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Owings Mills: At Thanksgiving time, shining examples of those who serve others

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In this month of Thanksgiving, I just had to share two experiences that illustrate the giving nature of mankind.

The first occurred on Oct. 14 when the Harbour House had its ribbon cutting. Founded by the Harbour School, this transitional housing allows young adults with disabilities to live independently and to learn life skills.

The residents learn to manage a budget, cook, travel and engage in social opportunities. The resident managers develop a plan unique to each individual so that they can achieve success.

In attendance that day for the ribbon cutting, and tour of the house, was Christine Feldman, deputy director from the comptroller's office, state Dels. Steve DeBoy and James Malone, and County Councilman Tom Quirk and his senior aide, Cathy Engers.

Opening this house has long been a vision for Dr. Linda Jacobs (founder and executive director of the Harbour School) who after three years saw her dream become a reality. Overcoming financial obstacles and mounds of paperwork, the house in Catonsville was finally ready for its inhabitants.

A young man and a young lady currently reside there, and there are three more rooms available. The residents share the household chores, help plan and cook the meals and are responsible for their personal space. They must also be in school or at work a minimum of 6 hours a day.

Dr. Jacobs' philosophy is "Children learn most when they are taught the way they learn best." This could not ring truer as Harbour School graduates are performing at levels far exceeding their peers. For more information about the Harbour House, call Martha Schneider at 443-394-3760 or email her at mschneider@harbourschool.org.

The second event occurred that same weekend (Oct. 15-16) when members of Life Point Church left the building and embarked on a Risk Love weekend of service projects throughout the community.

Teams of volunteers picked produce at a local farm, worked at a horse rescue farm, cleaned seniors' apartments, organized storage closets, painted walls, made repairs, served food to the homeless, filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas child and participated in a host of other projects all over Baltimore and Carroll counties.

This is the second year for this service project, and members of the congregation look forward to this weekend of giving back. Even children as young as 4 or 5 lent a hand and worked beside their parents, digging potatoes or planting flowers. That many hands make light work and was evident throughout the weekend.

The smiles, and tears, on the faces of those who received help made the weekend worthwhile; everyone is looking forward to next year's projects.. Life Point Church is located at 1701 Emory Road (Route 91), and welcomes visitors to the Saturday and Sunday services.

Stevenson University may be having its inaugural football season but they know how to put on a show! At a recent game, waves of players came through the inflatable green stallion and raced onto the field amid wild applause. Many sported pink arm and leg bands, in recognition of October's Breast Cancer Awareness.

The Mustangs' cheerleaders shook silver and green pompoms and entertained the crowd with cheers and gymnastics. Spectators were treated to a free hat at their seat, and at half time many received T- shirts fired from the T-shirt cannon.. The marching band choreographed a routine, as did the cheerleaders and dance troupe.

The stadium itself is beautiful, with the artificial turf and surrounding woods, not to mention the history that was made there as a training camp for the Baltimore Colts and Ravens. Perhaps the nicest surprise that day was the professionalism of the players and their enthusiasm for the game. It was pure pleasure to watch them play as a team, and even though they didn't win that day, they gave it the old college try.

Last month found Irvine Nature Center dedicating its outdoor classroom, and none other than Emmy award winning actress Julie Bowen was on hand to cut the ribbon. Even though it was a cold and dreary day, spirits weren't dampened as visitors toured the new outdoor space, which is paradise for an inquisitive child.

There are two sand-play areas, a water-play station, music and movement area, a theatrical stage, a messy-materials area for building, and many places to explore. There is even a miniature greenhouse! All of these areas encourage imagination and co-operative play as well as utilizing gross- and fine-motor skills.

Site preparation began in November a year ago, and it took 36 groups and 700 volunteer hours to complete. AmeriCorps worked on the project for six weeks this past spring, and youth from local Boy and Girl Scout troops also logged many hours. This outdoor classroom is the first certified Nature Explore Classroom in the state!

If you have never visited Irvine, make a point to stop in for a visit one day. If you have little ones, the exhibits and gift shop will enchant them.

Liberty Post 122 at the corner of Painters Mill and Lyons Mill roads has some fun events planned, so mark your calendars for the Sons of the American Legion's Shrimp Feast on Nov. 19. Then plan to join the ladies when they serve a homemade pasta dinner on Dec. 2 from 6:30 to 9 p.m., followed by karaoke until midnight. Call 410-363-1696 for ticket prices and further information.

Cedarmere Elementary School is having its November fruit sale, so now is the time to order Florida navel oranges, red navel oranges, tangerines and red seedless grapefruit. With cold and flu season upon us, nothing helps ward off those nasty germs like some vitamin C.

Delivery dates are Nov. 18 (7-9 p.m.) and Nov. 19 (10 a.m to 1 p.m.). Call the Fruit Express hotline at 410-526-7060 by Nov. 12 to place an order. As always, the school will benefit from all purchases. Cedar mere is located at 17 Nicodemus Road.

This Veterans' Day, we are remembering all those who have served our country and sending our thanks to them and their families for sacrificing so much. A Happy Thanksgiving is also wished to everyone. May you be surrounded by family, friends and many blessings.

Call with your special news. My next column appears Dec. 15.

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