Neighbors will talk to neighbors in new Northwest column NORTHWEST--Taneytown * Union Bridge * New Windsor * Uniontown

THE BALTIMORE SUN

My name is Michelle Hoffman, and I am the new Northwest neighbors columnist. I live in Taneytown with my husband and infant son. I am very excited about writing this column.

There is a great deal of camaraderie in this area. Since I grew up in a big city, I did not have the opportunity to sit on a back porch and talk to my neighbors. That is what I want my column to accomplish, neighbors telling other neighbors what is happening in their hometowns.

If you know of a neighbor working on a skill or craft, or if your organization has an event coming up, please contact me at 756-4180 any time, day or night, and I shall be happy to speak with you.

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Kitty Devilbiss-Marble puts a lot of love into the baskets she has been weaving for the past nine years.

"After every baby I take a new class," she laughed, trying to figure out the time of this particular class by the age of her eldest son, Tom, now 10.

"I had an excellent teacher," she reminisced fondly. "Her baskets were always traditional, so that's where I've been influenced. She was my inspiration."

The baskets Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble weaves reflect that traditional style. In all shapes and sizes, simple yet sturdy, they can hold anything from a candle to a baby. And they have.

"Both of my babies slept in a 3-foot-long field basket I made," she said. She recalled taking baby Sarah, now 6, to a craft show and letting her sleep under the table. Patrons kept flocking over to see "the baby in the basket."

"She was only 1 week old," said Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble, who is 35. "They thought it was so neat that I had her in a basket and I brought her with me."

Although baskets may be woven from many materials, Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble prefers to weave her baskets out of reed, a product made from the tough fibrous core of rattan. Rattan is a vine-shaped plant that is processed for basket-weaving. Reed has a definite grain and wood-like properties. It is purchased in coils of different lengths.

Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble uses 6-, 12-, or 15-foot lengths according to the project at hand. When wet, reed is pliable and forms easily. When dry, it strengthens, and holds the shape of the basket.

As director of the Taneytown Senior Citizens Center, Mrs.

Devilbiss-Marble periodically teaches seniors weaving skills. One woman won first place two years ago with a small woven basket she made at the center.

"She was so proud of herself," Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble said.

In her spare time, Mrs. Devilbiss-Marble likes to scout auctions for antique baskets.

"I go for something that appeals to me," she said. "I like things that are unusual."

One such basket is rectangular, and was once used to deliver flats of eggs. Now she uses it daily to store bread and cookies on a counter in her Uniontown home, mixing old with new.

The favorite basket at her house may be the old field basket that is being readied for use by a new addition to the family: a baby boy, due in July.

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Dust off your walking shoes and join the volunteers of the Bear-ly Used Boutique and the Carroll County Pregnancy Center in Taneytown for a five-mile "Walk-For-Life" Saturday. Proceeds from the walk will benefit the Carroll County Pregnancy Center.

The Bear-ly Used Boutique is a small thrift store. The items for sale are donated by private citizens, churches and organizations in the area. The volunteers who run the store do what they can with what they have.

The front window is always decorated, displaying clothing and a little of this, a little of that. It's simple, yet inviting.

But what you see is not always all you get.

Past the door at the rear of the store, it becomes the Carroll County Pregnancy Center. The center has been open for almost three years. It is a quiet hub of information resources for pregnant women. All services are free and always confidential.

The philosophy is pro-life, but the volunteer counselors (five women and two men) prefer to play more passive roles, talking to their clients like a mother, brother, or sister.

"We're not saying anything different than any parent is saying," said Gloria Szewczyk, the center's director. "But for some reason they're listening to us.

"We're not a parent, we're someone who cares, but we're not going to preach to them. We're not going to lecture to them, and we listen."

When a crisis arises, they said, the staff members will not hesitate to become involved.

In 1992, they saw 392 clients.

Material assistance is a big part of the store and the pregnancy center. Volunteers of both areas have a common goal: to make sure pregnant women and new mothers and families in need have what is necessary to provide for their children and themselves. This may include food, clothing, even help to pay utilities and rent.

Last year, the facility assisted 187 families.

Because the pregnancy center operates on donations, money is tight. Last year its budget was just over $12,000. The Bear-ly Used store was opened to generate funds for the pregnancy center, but even that help is not enough. A walk-a-thon was started last year to raise additional money.

This year, the second annual "Walk For Life" will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine. The five-mile walk will start at the Bear-ly Used Boutique at 3 York St. Walkers will circle Taneytown Memorial Park to Baltimore Street, circle Taneytown Shopping Center, and return to the boutique via Baltimore Street.

There will be refreshments along the route.

Those who only can walk part way also are encouraged to attend.

Pledge brochures are available at the Carroll County Pregnancy Center until the walk begins. The deadline for collecting pledges is May 29.

T-shirts with the center's logo will be given to all participants.

Last year, 100 people walked. This year, Mrs. Szewczyk hopes the number will double.

"It's a nice way of raising funds to help new moms," she said, "to give one day for one life."

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On Saturday, you can follow the Caribbean steel drum beat to the International Festival -- A Circle of Friends at the New Windsor Service Center. The third annual event will have 17 ethnic food booths, with food from 17 countries; 12 craft vendors demonstrating their skills; and eight program booths sponsored by the nonprofit organizations housed at the center.

The festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Headlining the entertainment will be the Trinidad and Tobago Baltimore Steel Orchestra, known for its Caribbean steel drum music.

John McCruden will play Scottish bagpipe music, and there will be three ethnic music and dance ensembles.

Children's activities include a geographic scavenger hunt, cow painting, goat milking and Bill Jenkins' "World of Music," where children can learn to play a foreign-made instrument.

So, if you have never tried a mutton sandwich, now is your chance. Remember to wash it down with a Nicaraguan banana milkshake, the preferred drink of prior festival attendees.

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On Sunday, Union Bridge Fire Hall is having a Mother's Day breakfast from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The menu includes scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, sausage gravy, hominy, pudding, biscuits, rolls, hot spiced apples, home fries, coffee and orange juice.

The cost is $4 for adults, $2 for 12 and under, and free for children under 5.

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