Maryland History Day

Mt. View Middle School eighth-grader Niklas Schnake, seen here with Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Kate Marks, of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, won second place in the Maryland History Day competition at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Niklas' project, a documentary called, “Sunny Days: Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television,” will now be part of the National History Day Competition, scheduled for June 10-14 at the University of Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Mitro Hood / May 13, 2012)

If you were asked to name venues in western Howard County that are available for meetings, conferences, retreats, and other gatherings, what would you suggest? Maybe Nixon's Farm or Circle D or the Glenwood Community Center? Did you think of Bon Secours in Marriottsville? No? Well, the good folks at Bon Secours would like to get on your radar screen.

Bon Secours Spiritual Center has billed itself as "Howard County's best kept secret," because of its secluded location at the top of a winding, wooded drive at 1525 Marriottsville Road. The warm staff have always delighted in bringing visitors "up the hill" and welcoming them to the beautifully landscaped facility, but they also acknowledge that some people may find the word "spiritual" confusing or perhaps even off-putting. Is this a destination just for religious groups?

In short, no. Although Bon Secours Spiritual Center is rooted in the mission of the Sisters of Bon Secours (a Roman Catholic group devoted to healing and compassion) and the facility does offer programs that are religious and/or spiritual in nature, the rooms and the grounds are available for use by groups of all types – businesses, crafters, students, hobbyists, etc. Consequently, the facility has rebranded itself as the Retreat and Conference Center at Bon Secours. Staff unveiled the new name and the newly renovated facility at a launch event on April 26.

The Retreat and Conference Center can accommodate up to 150 guests in its largest meeting room but also offers smaller spaces, including the highly popular "rocking chair room" for those seeking a cozier environment. Guests can enjoy traditional amenities such as dining and hospitality areas, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center, as well as more unique features, such spa rooms for groups that bring their own aestheticians or masseuses, and a chapel with a pipe organ for groups that wish to worship or perform music. The facility contains 70 overnight guest rooms, each with a full, private bath and Wi-Fi.


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Perhaps the biggest draw at Bon Secours is the scenery – more than 300 acres of land bordering Patapsco State Park, with plenty of walking and hiking paths. Tranquil gardens surround the Center, including a Zen-type "peace garden" and a one-acre labyrinth. Staff emphasize that the Center is open not just to those participating in paid events, but to anyone who wishes to enjoy the beautiful interior or exterior surroundings. They invite guests to "Reflect. Regroup. Recharge." Bring a friend, buy lunch at the Center, and make a day of it.

Bon Secours' phone number has remained the same: 410-442-1320. However, the website has changed to http://www.rccbonsecours.com, and the Retreat and Conference Center is now available on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Links can be found at the website.

On April 28, several local students participated in the Maryland History Day competition at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. One has advanced to the National History Day Competition, scheduled for June 10-14 at the University of Maryland.

Congratulations to Niklas Schnake, an eighth- grader at Mt. View Middle School, for earning second place at the state level with his documentary, "Sunny Days: Sesame Street and the Reform of Children's Television." Best of luck at the national event, Niklas!

On Saturday, May 19, marks the monthly opening of the Glenelg United Methodist Church food pantry. Although the facility continues to open from 9-10 a.m. on the third Saturday of every month for those in need of grocery assistance, GUMC has made two helpful changes.

First, those who would like to request assistance, but prefer to remain anonymous, can now call the church at 410-489-7260, and the food pantry will prepare bags of groceries for pickup at the front office. Second, the pantry is purchasing a freezer so that it can accept perishable food donations from both the Howard County Food bank and private donors.

GUMC would also like to thank the community for two sizeable donations this year: $1,035 generated through the benefit concert at the church on March 11, and 538 pounds of food collected by Boy Scout Troop 793 through the Scouting for Food drive on April 21. This generosity has helped support several local families.

Thursday, May 24 looks to be a busy day in our community. St. James United Methodist will be sponsoring a Red Cross Blood Drive from 2-8 p.m. at the church, 12470 Old Frederick Road (Route 99) in Marriottsville. If you can help give the gift of life, make an appointment by calling Jim Quindlen at 410-465-5134 or emiling jamesdq@gmail.com.

The Howard County Conservancy will also host its sixth annual Wine in the Garden party on May 24 from 5-8 p.m. Guests can browse a large silent auction, partake of fine food and wine from local establishments, and listen to bluegrass music against the lovely backdrop of the three-acre John L. Clark Honors Garden. This area houses native plants and garden elements named in memory of local loved ones. (In case of rain, the event will proceed indoors.)

Tickets cost $40 in advance or $50 after May 20. To purchase tickets online or preview the silent auction items, go to http://www.hcconservancy.org. The Conservancy lies between Woodstock Road and Bethany Lane, at 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99) in Woodstock, and the phone number is 410-465-8877.

Finally, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church will host its community feast on May 24 from 6-8 p.m. This month's menu will feature Italian food at a cost of $9 per person or $30 maximum per family; children 5 and younger eat for free. Proceeds will benefit the church's youth program.

St. Andrew's address is 2892 Route 97, in Glenwood, and the phone number is 410-489-4035. For more information, call Lynne Quinn at 410-442-5445 or email lynnequinn@comcast.net.