Per the Office of Senator Van Hollen: U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Jamie Raskin and David Trone (all D-Md.) announced $530,000 in Department of Homeland Security grants in Montgomery County, MD to develop violence prevention programs focused on LGBTQ+ youth.

The federal investment comes through the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2023. This funding will help the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) develop programming to address the risk of violence and negative mental health outcomes faced by LGBTQ+ youth in D.C. and Montgomery County. SMYAL’s program will provide in-school support and resilience programming for LGBTQ+ youth, training for school staff and youth service providers and support for parents and caregivers.

“The rise of targeted violence against LGBTQ+ communities demands additional investments to protect young people at risk. We know that education and training have the power to provide much-needed tools to counter hate and bias,” said the lawmakers. “Funding for these education programs and in-school supports will help expand resources so all Marylanders can feel safe in school and their communities.”

The TVTP Grant Program, administered by the DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the sole U.S. federal government grant program dedicated to helping local communities develop and strengthen their capabilities in combatting targeted violence and terrorism.

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Per Montgomery County: Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Partnerships today announced the winners of this year’s Show Your Pride! LGBTQ+ decal contest, which was open for submissions in early June. Bethesda resident Vinnie Yankowski was named winner of the youth category and former Silver Spring resident David Spengeler won the adult category.

“Anti-LGBTQ+ bias is surging across the U.S.,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “It’s more critical than ever for Montgomery County to stand behind our diverse LGBTQ+ communities. These decals are a symbol of who we are as a county—everyone is welcome here, and this is no place for hate.”

Submissions were grouped into youth (23 years and under) and adult (over age 23) categories, de-identified and scored by a committee comprised of members of Montgomery County’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board and LGBTQ+ community members. The committee selected three adult and three youth finalist designs that were shared during pride month events and on social media for public voting.

“Hands are the perfect way to express a sense of community and inclusivity,” said Yankowski of their design. “By holding hands and coming together, we can all celebrate what it means to be ourselves.”

 

 

Design created by Vinnie Yankowski, youth category winner.

Spengeler drew upon his experience as an immigrant to the U.S., creating a design he describes as simple and effective. Based on his observations of living in Montgomery County, he said, “I have never seen such a public LGBTQ flag like the one in Silver Spring at Veterans Plaza. I am happy to contribute my design to make it even more inclusive.”

 

 

Design created by David Spengeler, adult category winner.

Each category winner received a $1,500 prize and the winning designs will be printed and distributed for use by businesses, nonprofit organizations and County agencies to show their public support for Montgomery County’s LGBTQ+ communities.

Designs were required to include the County seal, as well as the words “Montgomery County Pride” to reflect inclusion of trans and gender expansive communities and to demonstrate the concept of intersectionality.

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According to Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass, Montgomery County Police have received reports  of signs and flags being vandalized in Silver Spring. Glass tweeted the following:

Earlier today MCPD received reports of Pride flags, Ukrainian flags and inclusive lawn signs in Silver Spring being desecrated.

My husband and I live in this neighborhood. As the first openly LGBTQ+ councilmember, I am sickened by these acts of terror.

This is personal.

 

I am deeply disturbed that the community I call home has been targeted by dangerous acts of hate and vandalism.

Like communities across the nation, we are seeing alarming rises in hate crimes targeting the LGBTQ+ community, communities of color and other vulnerable residents.

 

These incidents occurred one day after the council voted unanimously to establish an Anti-Hate Task Force, which will lead the efforts to ensure that everyone feels safe living, praying and being their authentic selves in our community

 

Our work must continue to ensure our LGBTQ+ community feels safe and protected.

This is revolting and will not be tolerated in Montgomery County.

We will post an update if additional information becomes available.

 

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Below are five things to do in Montgomery County, MD this weekend: 
1. Foodie Fridays Speaker Series
Friday, June 23: 6:30pm
Josiah Henson Museum and Park (11410 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda)
Per Montgomery County: Food lovers of all interests are sure to find something fitting their tastes this summer and fall as Montgomery Parks will host its “Foodie Fridays” speaker series this summer at Josiah Henson Museum and Park in Bethesda. The series will be held on the fourth Friday of each month, with the series opening at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, June 23.  Foodie Fridays will feature farmers, educators, community organizers, food lovers and changemakers. Each session will be a conversation about a different food-related topic. Admission of $10 per person includes light refreshments and one alcoholic beverage for adults 21 and older with identification. It also includes a ticket to the Josiah Henson Museum (a $5 value) that is redeemable during regular museum hours.

The topic of the first Foodie Friday falls on June 23, will be “Cultivating Traditions.” Local growers will discuss how and why history, ancestral and traditional knowledge and culturally important foods influence their farming practices.
“Food is a powerful signifier of place and time and influences us for the rest of our lives,” said Emma Layman, assistant manager of Montgomery Parks’ Community Gardens program. Everyone remembers the foods from their childhood or homeland, long after they have moved away. Our Cultivating Traditions panel will discuss how local growers’ desire to connect with their heritage has influenced their farming”

2. Rockville Pride
Saturday, June 24: 1-4pm
Rockville Town Square (131 Gibbs Street, Rockville)
Per the City of Rockville: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. The commemorative month also recognizes the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history—locally, nationally, and internationally. The City of Rockville has issued proclamations declaring LGBTQ+ Pride Month since June 2017.
The event is free and open to all ages, and will feature:

  • Live performances.
  • Information booths and dialogue.
  • Arts and crafts/children’s activities.

3. Heritage Days Events
Saturday-Sunday, June 24-25
Countywide
Per Montgomery County: Montgomery County “Heritage Days,” an annual free, countywide festival highlighting historic, cultural and outdoor recreation sites that offering special programs including exhibits and demonstrations, return for the 24th year on Saturday-Sunday, June 24-25. More than 30 sites will have live music and activities for all ages. Heritage Days present the opportunity to enjoy many small sites that are not regularly open to the public. In addition to Civil War and agricultural history, Heritage Days have the stories of local railroads and trolleys, African American communities, life along the C&O Canal and astronomy. Heritage Days also highlight local arts and culture, as well as outdoor recreation, including biking, hiking and walking tours. Many venues will offer musical entertainment, activities and crafts for children and refreshments.

Among the special sites that will be part of this year’s Heritage Days are the King Farm Dairy MOOseum in Rockville, the Germantown Bank Museum, the Brookeville Academy, the Edwards Ferry Lockhouse 25 in Poolesville, the National Capital Trolley Museum in Colesville, the historic Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville and the Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park in Olney. For a complete list of Heritage Days activities, go to Heritage Days.

4. Kentlands Baby Bar Grand Opening Celebration
Saturday, June 24: 10am-1pm
375 Main St., Gaithersburg
Kentlands Baby Bar will hold its Grand Opening Celebration this Saturday. “Please join us for a fun day of face painting, balloon animal making, and t shirt decorating while checking out the newest baby friendly spot in Kentlands!” Carolynne Nowrouzi, founder/owner of Baby Bar, was raised in MoCo. She wanted to provide a space where parents can go with their young children to enjoy a space where they can each grab a bite and just play. The space will offer “food, fun, and socializing” where “you enjoy a coffee and a bite, while your little ones get yummy food and a baby-friendly place to play!” Baby Bar Kentlands will offer fresh fruits and veggies and will have options for babies (puréed or chopped), food for kids like grilled cheese, egg bites, croissants, and more, and food for adults like bagels, muffins, fruit bowls, and more.
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat, 09:30 am – 02:30 pm. Sundays closed.

5. Pride in the Plaza
Sunday, June 25: 12-8pm
Veterans Plaza (1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring)
Per Montgomery County: In honor of Pride Month, Montgomery County will partner with Live in Your Truth Programs, a local LGBTQ+ arts and culture organization, to host its third annual “Pride in the Plaza” event. Pride in the Plaza will feature an LGBTQ+ focused resource and vendor fair, a bilingual Drag Story Hour and the championship finale of “Live in Your Truth Program’s Drag Duels” series. The day will conclude with the third annual Pride in the Plaza Mini-Ball, a free voguing competition with cash prizes.  The mini-ball competition, sponsored in partnership with the Capitol Ballroom Council, will begin at 5 p.m.

Veterans Plaza is located at 1 Veterans Place in Silver Spring. Free parking is available in the Ellsworth Drive parking garage adjacent to the plaza. The event is free, and registration is optional. Free tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pride-in-the-plaza-tickets-612427526217

 

 

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Per the City of Rockville: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. The commemorative month also recognizes the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history—locally, nationally, and internationally.

The City of Rockville has issued proclamations declaring LGBTQ+ Pride Month since June 2017.

Event Info

Rockville celebrates Pride Month in June. The City of Rockville’s Human Rights Commissionwill celebrate the seventh annual Rockville Pride in Rockville Town Square on Saturday, June 24, 2023.

Saturday, June 24, 1-4 p.m.
Rockville Town Square
131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD 20850

The event is free and open to all ages, and will feature:

  • Live performances.
  • Information booths and dialogue.
  • Arts and crafts/children’s activities.

For ADA modifications, please contact the city’s ADA Coordinator at 240-314-8108, [email protected], TTY 240-314-8137 or Relay 711 by June 1.

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Per Montgomery County:

 

Dear Friends,
For this week’s video, we selected a portion of a long interview I did with the County’s Chief Administrative Officer, Rich Madaleno, for Pride Month. We discussed the ways in which Montgomery County has been on the forefront of change on LGBTQ issues for more than 20 years. I am proud to be a part of the effort on the Takoma Park City Council when it became one of the first places in the nation to force hospitals to recognize same-sex partners so they could visit loved ones. Rich is a former Maryland lawmaker who fought proposed gay marriage bans in Annapolis and led the effort that resulted in Maryland becoming the first state to pass a gay marriage law by popular vote. The longer version of our conversation is on the Montgomery County YouTube page.

Air Quality Triggers Code Red & Purple Alerts

Who could have foreseen our area impacted the way we have been by these wildfires in Canada? It seemed to blow in gradually and get progressively worse toward the end of the week. This

Airnow Fire & Smoke map from Thursday is produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Park Service, NASA, Centers for Disease Control, and other partners. It shows a heavy concentration of unhealthy air over the DC region.

This week we responded as needed with the extremely bad air quality. MCDOT dropped bus fees to help people avoid walking as much as possible. The Recreation Department canceled all outdoor activities when our air was considered unhealthy or very unhealthy. A reminder went out to our community to utilize recreation centers, senior centers, libraries and regional service centers during normal operating hours to limit exposure to the air on Thursday. Outreach teams from the Department of Health and Human Services helped spread that word to our homeless community.

MCDOT also limited its work crews and temporarily halted all outdoor projects currently being worked on for the day except for those handling emergency situations.

I appreciate how quickly our teams responded and coordinated our response and coordination alert the public to the risks, providing support and reacting in ways to protect our employees and residents is a testament to how well this government works together in response to incidents that require immediate action.

If air quality conditions worsen again, use the airnow.gov website to determine what the air quality is like in your zip code. Here are some tips for staying safe when conditions are code red, purple or maroon:

  • Wear a high-quality (N95 or KN95) mask when outdoors. This is especially important for people with respiratory illnesses, as well as older adults, children and teens.
  • Those with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens should avoid all outdoor activities. Outdoor activities should be moved indoors or cancelled.
  • Everyone, regardless of age or health status, should avoid long or intense outdoor activities. Consider moving activity indoors or rescheduling.
  • Those that must work outside should reduce work if possible and wear a mask while working.

No matter the air quality reading, if you are feeling lightheaded, dizzy or having trouble breathing while outdoors, go inside and see if that helps you feel better. If you continue to cough and do not feel better, contact your doctor or call 911. Do not drive yourself to the hospital because prolonged exposure yourself to harmful elements in the air may cause you to pass out. Remember, in some cases, these air conditions are hazardous so anyone who already has health challenges like asthma, heart disease, COPD or is pregnant, could be more susceptible to serious complications. Children and the elderly are also more likely to be impacted by unhealthy air than adults in good shape.

All Signs Point Toward Strong Tourism This Summer

The summer season will be in full swing in just a few weeks once school is out. Even though it may seem like the beaches have an advantage over Montgomery County during the summer months it is important to remember how important tourism is to the local economy.

In 2019, Montgomery County was the most visited county in Maryland with more than nine million visitors. They left a nearly $2 billion impact on the local economy. We are trying to get back to those visitor numbers and surpass them now that the emergency phase of COVID-19 is behind us. Initial signs are good with occupancy rates up nearly 10 percent statewide in 2022 and room reservations up 28 percent across Maryland.

Sports like soccer help contribute to Montgomery County’s tourism revenues. It is the No. 1 reason families get a hotel room for the night in Montgomery County with more than one million rooms booked last year.  Kelly Groff, president & CEO of Visit Montgomery, joined me on my weekly media briefing to talk about the effort to attract new visitors to our area now that more people are traveling again.

In the three years since that high watermark for visitors, we have added the Tastemakers Trail to give anyone with an adventurous palate many reasons to venture into Montgomery County to discover wineries, distilleries and breweries that have been overlooked. Ms. Groff said information about the Tastemakers Trail is the third-most visited section of the visitmoco.com website, with the most interest coming from the Baltimore area and New York City.

Next week we will be adding to the Tastemaker’s Trail with Crossvines in Poolesville. It will offer a unique opportunity for visitors to learn to make wine, participate in the process or just enjoy the fruits of everyone’s labor.

I proposed this project about a decade ago as a way to help support economic development in growing grape and wine production industry as well as the Ag Reserve. It will also provide educational opportunities for visitors and students Montgomery County develops “wine country” and Agri-tourism industry. When you visit you might see people golfing or enjoying dinner or celebrating a wedding. Crossvines will be different things to different people. The grand opening ceremonies will be Monday, June 12, and the facility will be open to the public soon afterward.

Another important update to pass along comes from our Alcohol Beverages Services. The department will open a new store in Gaithersburg Square on Thursday June 15, under the Oak, Barrel & Vine concept. This is the third Oak, Barrel & Vine store to open in Montgomery County. Some of the features of these redesigned stores include large wine tasting areas, event space, expanded selections of small format items and a dedicated space for non-alcoholic beverages.

ABS will celebrate by offering special tastings and sale prices on Maryland made products from the day it opens through the weekend of Juneteenth.

Two weekends from now, we will be in the middle of a multi-day Juneteenth celebrations that span across the County and include the Silver Spring Blues Festival in Downtown Silver Spring on Saturday June 18. On that same day Freedom at the Rock, a special event at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, will have live music, films and awards from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. We will have more on all the Juneteenth events in my update next week.

Community Grant Award for Long Branch 

Earlier this week, I, along with Council President Evan Glass and Councilmember Kate Stewart, celebrated a grant for the Long Branch Business League to help promote businesses in the Long Branch community.

The money comes from the County’s Office of Grants Management and are intended to help with things like community events, self-promotion and unifying the look of the area.

The $125,000 provided through this grant will help enhance the Long Branch area and add to what makes areas like this so special.

The effort to help promote and encourage more people to discover Long Branch began more than a decade ago. Our community partners like MHP have brought businesses together to help them help each other. Since then, we have seen community gatherings consistently fill the calendar for the mutual benefit of business owners and the surrounding community.

More than 95 percent of all businesses in Montgomery County are small businesses. This grant is a way to support them and encourage them to continuing investing in our community. We want to follow the models that have worked elsewhere to help create more than just one main street in Montgomery County. It is better if each community has its own area that is drawn to for concerts, festivals and block parties.

I want to thank the County Council for supporting this idea and the small businesses of Long Branch. This helps us be an affordable and welcoming community today and for a lifetime. We plan on awarding similar grants elsewhere in the county later this summer.

Measles in Montgomery County 

You may have heard that late last week Montgomery County Health and Human Services Department leaders notified the public about a  confirmed case of measles.

While measles is highly contagious, it is also preventable via vaccination. Fortunately, the vast majority of Montgomery County residents are vaccinated, except for infants under the age of 1 as they are not eligible yet for the measles vaccine. Pregnant women, infants younger than 1 and those who are immune compromised are most at-risk of serious complications from the measles.

Measles symptoms include a fever more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit; runny nose; cough; and red, watery eyes. Usually, one to four days after the early symptoms, a red rash appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.

There were five confirmed measles cases reported in Maryland in 2019 (part of a nationwide trend of outbreaks), but there have been no measles cases reported since then. People are considered immune to measles if they were born in the United States before 1957, previously had measles or have had two measles vaccine shots.

While the window for transmission of measles has passed for this situation, it is a good reminder of the importance of vaccinations. The public health team has been in contact with exposed individuals, and it appears there has not been any spread. This is a testament to the effectiveness of vaccines and the importance of having high rates of vaccination in a community. It is also a peek into the world of our Department of Health and Human Services staff who track and investigate communicable diseases such as measles. We applaud their swift response.

COVID Update 

Our COVID-19 count continues to be quite low. At last count, there were less than a dozen people hospitalized with COVID-19 in our local hospitals and no one was in intensive care. This is something we will continue to monitor it and hope to keep sharing good news with you on the COVID front.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich

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Per the City of Rockville: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. The commemorative month also recognizes the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history—locally, nationally, and internationally. The City of Rockville has issued proclamations declaring LGBTQ+ Pride Month since June 2017.

Event Info:
Rockville celebrates Pride Month in June. The City of Rockville’s Human Rights Commission will celebrate the seventh annual Rockville Pride in Rockville Town Square on Saturday, June 24, 2023.

Saturday, June 24, 1-4 p.m.
Rockville Town Square
131 Gibbs Street, Rockville, MD 20850

The event is free and open to all ages, and will feature:

  • Live performances.
  • Information booths and dialogue.
  • Arts and crafts/children’s activities.

For ADA modifications, please contact the city’s ADA Coordinator at 240-314-8108, [email protected], TTY 240-314-8137 or Relay 711 by June 1.

Event Sponsorship: Click the button below to view the sponsorship levels for the seventh annual Rockville Pride event. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Tyree Davis IV at 240-314-8112 or [email protected].

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Per Montgomery County: Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, Council President Evan Glass, Maryland Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Woods, Councilmembers and members of the Montgomery Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly joined LGBTQ+ community leaders today to commemorate Pride Month by raising the Progress Pride Flag outside of the Executive Office Building in Rockville.

Speakers arrived in Montgomery County’s first #RideWithPride Ride On bus, which is wrapped with the Intersex Progress Flag and will be serving residents across the County throughout the month of June in honor of Pride. Learn more about the #RideWithPride bus on the Montgomery County Department of Transportation website.

Spearheaded by Council President Glass, this is the fifth year Montgomery County has formally recognized June as Pride Month. As the first openly LGBTQ+ member of the Montgomery County Council, Glass initiated this commemoration to promote inclusion and acceptance across the community.
“This is our 5th anniversary of raising the flag to signify the celebration of Pride Month, which is an opportunity to recognize the many contributions that our LGBTQ+ residents make every day and help shape who we are as a County,” said County Executive Elrich. “Unfortunately, there continue to be far too many unacceptable actions of discrimination, isolation, threats of violence and assaults that are happening around the Country and here in Montgomery County. I was proud to be a part of the Takoma Park City Council more than 30 years ago when we were one of the first in the nation to recognize same sex partnerships so that partners could be there for each other in the hospital at a time when most places refused to honor those relationships. We will continue to use this month to increase awareness and understanding and help people understand that at the end of the day we are all people. The more we understand and accept each other as human, the stronger we will be as a County and community.”

“During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically,” said Council President Evan Glass. “Everyone should be able to live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, violence and hatred based on race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, age and disability status. Pride Month is an opportunity to reaffirm our obligation to uphold the dignity of all people and protecting the most vulnerable among us.”

Montgomery County upholds the values of acceptance and inclusion of community members of all identities. Amid alarming rates of anti-LGTQ+ hate and attacks on LGBTQ+ rights across the nation, Montgomery County has strengthened protections of LGBTQ+ rights, including the passage of the LGBTQ+ Bill of Rights in 2020, and remains committed to protecting and uplifting LGBTQ+ residents. The flag raising ceremony recognizes the positive impact that LGBTQ+ residents have made in Montgomery County, across the state of Maryland and worldwide.

The Progress Pride Flag is an inclusive symbol that celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. The flag includes black and brown stripes to represent marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color and pink, light blue and white stripes, which make up the Transgender Pride Flag.

Council President Glass will host a series of community events celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Month. See the full list of upcoming Pride Month events.

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