THUMBS UP: Graduates frequently receive recognition in this space and the 26 Carroll young people who graduated from the Summer Youth Work Experience — a state program funded through the Division of Rehabilitation Services arm of the Maryland State Department of Education that helps those with disabilities acquire work experience — on Thursday are certainly deserving.
But so, too, are the multiple agencies throughout the county that participate in the program, notably the Arc of Carroll County as well as Change Inc., Target Community & Educational Services, Abilities Network, Goodwill Industries, Mosaic and Step and, especially, the businesses in the community that give these young people a chance. Once such business is Playtime Child Care Center in Westminster, which employed 17-year-old Daisha Robinson, who has a learning disability, throughout the six-week program and then offered her a permanent position. Another is Jimmy John's in Eldersburg, which employed 19-year-old William Davis, who has Down syndrome, for six weeks and offered him a permanent position when the program ended. Those types of stories are not rare. Places of business find through the Summer Youth Work Experience that the people involved with the program bring value. And the program works for both employer and employee. "It's kind of given him a purpose," Kathleen Davis, William's mother, told us, regarding his job. Jimmy John's manager Timothy Willett, who is deaf, told us: "It's hard out there in the real world. A lot of the time [people] don't give you an opportunity." Kudos to those who do.
THUMBS UP: A few McDaniel College students who were frustrated by how expensive textbooks have become picked up the equivalent of about $13,000 on Thursday night that might help save fellow and future students some money. The entrepreneurial trio of Brandon Cortese, Hunter Metcalf and Dajuan Price brought their vision for bookSwap to the sixth annual Carroll Biz Challenge finale, a "Shark Tank"-like showcase for local startup businesses sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, and won. They took home the grand prize, worth $7,500 in cash, plus other prizes — consulting, marketing, retail space and more — that valued at nearly $13,000 for their idea, a platform for college students to socially interact and sell and buy used textbooks or school supplies with a mobile application. All three described winning as "surreal." Additionally, UpAbove Media, an aerial photo and video company with 3-D modeling capabilities, won the People's Choice Award of $1,000 based on text voting from the Carroll Arts Center audience, which set a record for the largest Biz Challenge crowd. The other finalists included Torched Timber, dedicated to custom-crafted burnt wooden items; Arcadeology, a playable, museum-like experience of arcade games; and Ride With Pride, which provides transportation for Carroll countians with disabilities. Congratulations are due to the winners and all of the finalists, and we look forward to seeing some ideas grow into successful businesses.
THUMBS UP: Saturday, Aug. 12 marks the conclusion of National Farmers Market Week and it offers one last chance to patronize a number of farmers markets in Carroll. Mount Airy Farmers Market master Alice Settle-Raskin told us National Farmers Market Week "promotes a flourishing environment where direct local farmer- and producer-to-consumer relationships and the agricultural community can thrive." Mount Airy's weekly market takes place on Wednesdays and drew a nice crowd this week. One customer, Stefanie Holt, of Mount Airy, said she visits the market every week. "I just love the produce. I like knowing that it's really fresh and I like supporting local people," Holt said. While Mount Airy's market is concluded for the week, several other community markets will be open Saturday. So look for the Hampstead Farmers Market, 8:30 a.m. to noon on the carnival grounds of the Hampstead volunteer fire department; the Downtown Westminster Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to noon on the Conaway lot at Md. 27 and Railroad Avenue; the Carroll County Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Carroll County Agriculture Center in Westminster; the Taneytown Farmers Market, 9 a.m to noon behind the Taneytown Police Department; and the Finksburg Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3006 Old Westminster Pike. Patronizing these markets is a great way to support mom-and-pop businesses. And, of course, a great way to get some tasty, often healthful, menu items.