Weekly Message From the County Executive: Grants Will Be Provided to Nonprofits at High Risk for Hate Crimes

Per Montgomery County:

 

Dear Friends,

Saturday morning we awoke to the horror of the terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel. The loss of life is gut-wrenching. You can read my statement here.Over the past week, ordinary Israelis and Palestinians have paid an enormous price with no signs of letting up. Many County residents have lost family and friends this week, and our hearts and sympathies are with them.

Here at home, after speaking to community and religious leaders, we know that there will be increased needs for security. That is why we are expediting $100,000 of security grants for nonprofit organizations facing threats. We plan to process these requests as expeditiously as possible.

Additionally, we just announced another round of security grants of $900,000. Montgomery County is the only jurisdiction in the State and region committing its own funds to helping community groups feel safer where they gather and worship through our Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Groups can request up to $20,000 per facility if the money is used in the next year. Nonprofit organizations and houses of worship have until Friday, Nov. 10, to apply for these funds.

An informational session to answer questions about the grant opportunity is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 18. For more information about this grant program and others, visit our Office of Grants Management website.

As we move forward, we encourage our community to be remain vigilant. Please remember if you “see something, say something.” If there is an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. For suspicious activity, please use the MCPD non-emergency line at 301-279-8000.

The Montgomery County Police Department is committed to documenting every allegation of a hate crime or bias incident. MCPD’s Community Engagement Division monitors and tracks all hate-bias events in the County. It shares that information in a monthly report that can be found on the MCPD website. Those reports show that hate impacts more than just one group. Stopping groups behind these messages and incidents is work we have to do.

We also continue to provide support to organizations indicating a need for assistance with security. The County provides classes, assessments and training sessions specially designed for nonprofit and faith-based facilities. Our next training will be in Germantown at 7 p.m. on Nov. 29. You can register here. You can also request a walk-through of your house of worship or nonprofit to get advice on securing the facility at any time by contacting police, or email [email protected].

If you need support during this time, find resources at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/gilchrist/get-help/healthcare/mental-health.html Please take care of yourselves and each other.

A Fresh Look for Hillandale

I joined the Hillandale community on Thursday to celebrate a fresh look for a group of businesses along New Hampshire Avenue near Powder Mill Road.

Upgrades include better signage, a unified look for area businesses, a wall mural and improved lighting for the parking lot. The program encourages business and property owners to invest in improvements that help the community. Upon completion of the work, those owners are reimbursed up to 50 percent of their costs. Around $580,000 was spent on the Hillandale improvements.

I want to thank our Department of Housing and Community Affairs for working with business and community leaders interested in the program. Last year, we unveiled a similar project in Burtonsville (with the help of our State delegation) and received lots of positive feedback from the community. Over the next five years, the County will spend $3.5 million dollars through the facade improvement program to help neighborhoods across the County update properties that are more than 10 years old. These are changes that can help attract new businesses and show our communities that their tax money is being spent to help their neighborhoods.

East County will also benefit from the County’s plans for Bus Rapid Transit. The Flash currently runs on route 29 and the addition of a route on New Hampshire Avenue is being studied to help people get where they need to go with fewer stops and direct access to major areas of our County. Another addition will come from Montgomery College. I was pleased to help them in their plans to open a campus and education center in East County in Spring 2024. Signs for the education center went up this week.

Façade improvements are one way to help people feel better about their community, attract more customers to businesses and foster economic growth.

Donate your Bike on Friday, Oct. 20

On Friday, Oct. 20, our Department of Transportation will hold their annual Bicycle Donation Drive. They will be collecting pre-loved bikes outside of the Montgomery County Council Office Building Garage from 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

Bikes can be an important last leg to get to and from public transportation. Riding a bike is also great exercise and a climate friendly mode of transportation.

We have nearly 100 miles of bike lanes countywide with bike friendly shoulders and separated bike lanes. Those are in addition to more than 284 miles of paved paths. You can keep up with where paved bike lanes have been created and natural surface trails exist by checking the Montgomery County Bikeways map available here.

MCDOT also has a Bike Match Program that matches bike donors with recipients. Since the program began in 2020, and with the help of partner organizations such as Rockville Bike Hub and Rockville’s Terrific Kids, we have placed more than 600 donated and/or refurbished bicycles. If you are interested in taking advantage of those donations, visit our bike match webpage, read over the guidelines and apply.

Community Conversations on Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Resume

We have already had four successful budget forums where we engaged our community and asked residents to provide feedback and ideas about priorities for our next budget.

Next week our Community Conversations will return with a meeting on Monday, Oct. 16, at the Executive Office Building in Rockville. The audience will be Parent-Teacher Association leaders from around the County. This budget conversation is new this year because we want to hear directly from parents and others close to our schools about the needs that the budget funds could or should address.

This forum will be streamed live, but we ask that those participating in-person be active members of the PTA so the focus of this meeting is on our schools and kids.

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, we will be hosting a budget conversation for our communities that speak Amharic. That meeting will be on the Takoma Park/ Silver Spring Montgomery College campus.

All of our Community Conversations run from 7-8:30 p.m.

The budget not only reflects the County’s needs and concerns, but our community’s values and goals. Thank you to everyone who came out to these events in September. Join us at upcoming forums over the next several weeks; your voice helps shape our path forward.

60,000 Additional Free Computers to be Distributed to Low-Income Residents

We have great news regarding our efforts to close the digital divide in Montgomery County. Over the last year, our County has been spearheading efforts to get more computers into the hands of children and adults who need them.

I am happy to announce we recently received $23 million in grants from the Federal government to purchase 60,000 Dell Chromebook laptops for residents who do not have a computer. Last week, I transmitted a supplemental budget appropriation to the County Council so we can move forward and purchase these computers.

Funding for these computers comes from the “Federal Communications Commission Emergency Connectivity Fund” grant that was secured by the Montgomery County Department of Technology & Enterprise Business Solutions (also known as “TEBS”) and Montgomery County Public Libraries.

We thank Congressman David Trone for his letter of support, as well as our entire Congressional delegation for this funding.

This new computer distribution program is expected to launch next month. Eligibility for the program is limited to those with a Montgomery County Public Libraries card. For more information about who is eligible to get a library card and how to get one, follow this link.

Once we complete this upcoming distribution of 60,000 computers, Montgomery County will have provided a total of 119,000 computers in the County. That number almost matches the estimated 125,000 low-income families who do not have a computer. Computer and internet access are key equity issues. Of the computers we have distributed so far, 85 percent went to households earning less than $50,000 and 74 percent of the computers went to Black or Latino families. Black and Latino households are near twice as likely as likely as other groups we are targeting to not own a home computer. We want to change that.

While the need continues to be out there, this computer distribution has a large impact. As a result, most low-income families in our County will have digital access for homework, remote work or to find a job. This is a way of helping end the poverty cycle and it only requires a library card. That is incredible.

I was on a video meeting last month with Maryland Governor Wes Moore ahead of the launch of Maryland Digital Equity Coalition. It is the new statewide initiative aimed at making sure every person in Maryland has online connectivity. I agree with the comments Governor Moore, who said that access to the internet “is everything. It is water.”

We will share more information when these computers are available. Be prepared by getting a library card if you do not have one. To learn more about our computer distribution and affordable broadband access programs, visit this website.

Update on ‘The Landing’ Memory Care Facility in Colesville

The community was justifiably disappointed to learn last week that “The Landing,” a memory care facility in Colesville, is forcing its residents to vacate by the middle of November. Leisure Care has owned and operated the facility since it opened in 2019. The new owners are Omega Healthcare Investors and CommuniCare. These companies intend to close the facility for a year-long renovation and to open a higher-level skilled nursing facility at the site.

What is appalling about this deal is that 53 memory care patients and their families were only given 45 days to find new accommodations. This is inhumane. State law only requires 45 days, but the new owners could have—and should have—given these people in need of specialized care more time. There was no urgency to shutting it down in 45 days.

As anyone who has dealt with memory care patients knows, moving and changing locations can be traumatic and confusing, let alone when it is on such a short timetable.

Our County’s DHHS Long Term Care Ombudsmen Program is working with the patients and their families. Fortunately, a vast majority of families impacted (45) have secured a new facility. However, eight are still searching for a new home.

District 19 State Delegate Bonnie Cullison joined my media briefing this week and shared my disappointment with the situation. She said House of Delegates oversight committee members are already working to address this issue and she anticipates action during this next General Assembly session to adjust requirements in the law.

I agree. More guardrails are needed to help protect this vulnerable population from being forced into difficult situation like this because of a business strategy. I look forward to working with the General Assembly and lending my voice to this needed policy change.

Community Health Report

Our COVID-19 rates are currently declining and our County’s hospitalization rates have stabilized.

The new booster is becoming easier to find and we need folks to take this shot. Statistics show our vaccine numbers have plummeted in terms of adoption between the first two shots in 2021 and 2022, and the more recent bivalent booster shots.

Although we are still vastly outperforming the national averages, we have dropped off quite significantly.

The new booster is different than the previous booster and is designed to address the latest variants of COVID. You do not need to get the bivalent booster (they are no longer available). However, you should get the new boosters. As we move into winter and more indoor activities, we will find ourselves in more risky situations.

For anyone who has avoided COVID shots over the concern over the mRNA technology used to develop most of the current vaccines, you need to know that a new protein-based vaccine from Novavax was just approved. The technology for making protein-based vaccines, such as those for HPV or tetanus, has been in use for decades and those vaccines have long, well-understood safety profile histories. The new Novavax vaccine for COVID-19 will be available shortly.

It was noted to me this week that we are currently seeing higher rates of people getting their flu shots than COVID vaccines. Flu and COVID are both illness that can be quite serious, so both shots are important. Also important are the new RSV vaccines for older adults and those who are immunocompromised.

When it comes to COVID, we are clearly in different place than in the past. But we cannot be lulled into complacency. The virus is still here, it is still serious and potentially deadly and we must continue to protect ourselves and families against it.

To find out where you can get your shot, visit vaccines.gov.

Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival is Sunday, Oct. 15

Join me on Sunday, Oct. 15, at the annual Wheaton Arts Parade and Festival. The festive parade is a celebration of culture and artistic expression. The parade will close a small portion of Georgia Avenue for about an hour starting around 10 a.m. The festival celebration then moves to Marian Fryer Town Plaza in Downtown Wheaton and will continue through 5 p.m.

This parade shows off the creativity of our Wheaton and Mid-County arts communities. There will be opportunities to create and purchase and to talk with artists about their exhibits. The event is a wonderful way to conclude Hispanic Heritage Month. The theme for this year’s parade is “Art for Action.” Art can a great way to improve the lives of our neighbors and our communities. We could all benefit from the creative ideas and approaches that art provides to help solve our challenges. Join us for a fun day that should interest all ages.
As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich

County Executive

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Karen joined the Well-Paid Maids team as a cleaner in January 2021, and she was recently promoted to an operations manager! This well-deserved promotion is part of Well-Paid Maids' effort to deliver better customer service with responses to phone calls and emails seven days a week.

To celebrate Karen's promotion, we caught up with her to learn more about her time at Well-Paid Maids, the area's only certified living-wage cleaning company.

  1. Why Well-Paid Maids?

Karen: I saw the company was paying a living wage and had great benefits. Also, they were very flexible with my schedule, especially since I have kids.

  1. How has it been working at Well-Paid Maids?

Karen: I feel very appreciated at the company. This is the first job where I feel I'm able to speak about any issue and that management will support me.

  1. How has working at Well-Paid Maids benefitted you?

Karen: Because Well-Paid Maids pays a living wage, I can now spend more time with my kids and not work double shifts like I did at my old job.

  1. How do you plan to spend your PTO this year?

Karen: I look forward to traveling to El Salvador to visit my family there.

  1. How would you describe Well-Paid Maids as an employer in three words?

Appreciated, valued and opportunity

Submit your own Announcement here.

Washington City Paper is hosting its annual Best of D.C. contest -- and Well-Paid Maids is eyeing the Best Maid Service category. If you missed it: Well-Paid Maids has secured first place for the past three years. Can you help us snag gold again? Simply go to the ballot and write in your vote for the best maid service. In case you need a refresher before you vote, Well-Paid Maids is the only certified living-wage cleaning company in the D.C. area. We pay our cleaners, who are W-2 employees, at least $24 an hour and offer benefits like insurance, 24 paid days off per year and more. Voting is open until June 10 at 5 p.m., and the winner will be announced July 18. (We'll keep you posted!) Thank you for your support -- and if you still haven't booked a spring cleaning yet, now is the time!

Submit your own Announcement here.

Movie being filmed in McLean, VA, needs your support

A local community movie is filming in our area in June and needs contributions!

Local actors, teens, teachers, housewives, and retired residences are trying to make this film happen but we need your help.

This is an educational short story about teens learning how to navigate when they don't feel accepted by their friends and what to do to find acceptance. Yet this film isn't just for teens. In your life have you ever felt like you weren't accepted??

Come be a part of the audience for this film! Invite your friends. Be a part of this film being produced right here in our area.

This is a social impact film that will show locally and internationally at film festivals in 2025 and also at colleges.

More information can be found here. DONATE TODAY:

https://www.filmindependent.org/sponsored-projects/ultimate-bias/

https://www.silvanomarifilms.com/jis

This is a not-for-profit film and donations are tax-deductible.

Free Community Father-Daughter Dance

Fathers and father figures, create unforgettable memories with your daughter at our free community father-daughter dance on June 1st, from 6-8 pm. Hosted outdoors at Olney Baptist Church. This event offers a delightful outdoor experience complete with a DJ spinning tunes, interactive games, a charming photo booth, delicious treats, and exciting raffle prizes. Fathers/father figures and daughters of all ages are warmly welcomed to share in this special evening together. Join us for an evening of joy, laughter, and cherished moments!

In the spirit of giving back to our community, we are partnering with Quest to Feed Montgomery to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need. We kindly ask each attendee to bring along a non-perishable food item to donate during the event. Every contribution, no matter how small, will go a long way in supporting families facing food insecurity in our area.

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