Cindy Perry McDonnell, of Elkridge, shows off her grand champion entry, "The Fairway" with a blue ribbon smile. Her bracelet took first place, grand champion and best in show honors in the hand weaving category (home arts department) at the 66th Annual Howard County Fair, in West Friendship, in August.. (Photo couretsy of Cindy Perry McDonnel / August 30, 2011)

Congratulations to Cindy Perry McDonnell, of Elkridge, for making a "grand" showing at the recent 66th Annual Howard County Fair in the Home Arts Department! Cindy was awarded first-place, Grand Champion and Best In Show ribbons for her bracelet entitled "The Fairway" in the hand weaving category. This is Cindy's the second year in a row taking a first-place ribbon in this category and she will be also entering her Best In Show project at the Maryland State Fair at the Timonium Fairgrounds. Congratulations, Cindy, and good luck at the state fair!

The Elkridge Adult Athletic Association awarded its annual scholarships to three well-deserving Howard County high school seniors at ceremonies in June and July. The 2011 EAAA Scholarship recipients were Rachel Slahetka (Long Reach), Sarah Lewis (Reservoir), and Robert Suchocki (Mt. Hebron). All three of the scholarship winners have solid plans college this fall and will use the funds to help defray their school expenses. Congratulations to Rachel, Sarah and Robert!

The EAAA is an all-volunteer organization, with approximately 20 full- and part-time members that has been active in the Elkridge community for more than 30 years. The group conducts fundraising activities (the annual EAAA Haunted Experience in Rockburn Park being one of their largest and most popular) throughout the year in order to give back to Elkridge and surrounding communities through programs like their scholarship awards. The scholarship funds granted to the 2011 recipients brings the lifetime totals to more than $75,000. For more information, email Dave Grabowski at eaaa11@yahoo.com.

One of the hats I wear on a regular basis is for the Howard County Office on Aging as an event coordinator, and I have been working on promotional materials for an event I would love to share with you. Whether you want to get a handle on a crowded kitchen, a disorganized closet, are drowning in papers, or just sick and tired of always losing your keys, you'll find the answer to your problem at a workshop entitled, "Unstuff Your Life!"

This 90-minute seminar is being held Sept. 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the brand new, state-of-the-art North Laurel Community Center and is being sponsored by The Howard County Office on Aging.

Andrew Mellen, chief executive officer of VirgoMan, Inc., brings his practical and useful strategies for creating order out of chaos to Howard County showing folks how to get and stay organized for good. With numerous appearances in print and telelvision, Mellen, dubbed "The Most Organized Man in America," brings more than 15 years of experience, skill and compassion to this powerful and engaging work. His simple, practical and effective methods and solutions guarantee success.

From hardcore hoarders to overwhelmed parents, and from harried executives to small business owners, Mellen has helped corporations, small businesses and individuals throughout the country get organized, simplify their spaces and their lives, and achieve a degree of efficiency, productivity and calmness that had previously eluded them.

Both fun and informative, this event will be jam-packed with useful tips, tools and suggestions and will also feature a discussion of alternatives and practices of particular interest to seniors and the "baby boomer" generation. The workshop includes an extended Q&A where practical answers are offered to real-life challenges. Think "Antique Road Show" meets "Let's Make A Deal," sprinkled with a little "Doctor Oz."

The fee for this workshop is $10 before Sept. 5 or $15 after. Tickets are available online at http://www.activenet.active.com/howardcounty (Look for Activity #A06750.500), or by calling the Howard County Office on Aging at 410-313-0380.

Don't forget to register for the "Give Where You Live 5K" to support the Elkridge Food Pantry. This fun run/walk is taking place Sept. 18 at 8 a.m. and 100 percent of the proceeds directly benefit the food pantry and garden. The Howard High School cross country team is gearing up to make a collective showing in support of this event, thanks to the support and encouragement of Nathan Ferrell, a Spanish teacher in the school's world language department and cross county coach.

The run/walk will take place at 5660 Furnace Ave. (in front of the Food Pantry building next to Melville Methodist Church). There will be a post-race celebration with music, food and family fun at the Volleyball House parking lot across the street (which is offering free parking for the race participants and their families).

Plan now to support a great cause in your own backyard and spend some time with neighbors and friends to help make this event a success! Don't forget: you must register by Sept. 9 to receive a free T-shirt. Sign up online at http://www.summersend5k.org.

Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer and the quintessential indicator that school has started again and football season begins. Fall is just around the corner and the pace of life picks up from the lazy, dog days of summer. And, in tribute to everyone in this great country of ours who have contributed to the high standard of living and to the economic and political democracy of the United States of America, I offer the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."

Happy Labor Day weekend!

And remember: Life is short. Enjoy every moment possible, stay safe, practice random acts of kindness, and remember to reach out to those in need. Please keep in touch and let me know what you'd like to share in this space. I always look forward to hearing from the great friends and neighbors of Elkridge and Hanover. Thanks and have a stellar week!