Feeding a need to help out

For 14 years, the town of Union Bridge has been putting on a monthly breakfast and other fundraisers to pay for its town hall building.

Last June, the $200,000 mortgage was paid off and the Town Hall Funding Committee decided to call it quits on the breakfasts.


But Bowling Brook Preparatory School, four miles away, did not want the breakfast end.

A week ago, Bowling Brook held a breakfast at its dining hall on the campus. The school served more than 400 people and is giving all profits from the breakfast to the town as a community service.


"It was decided to stop the breakfasts once the mortgage was paid, and we were all pretty tired because we did other things through the year, too," said Kathleen Kreimer, chairwoman of the Town Hall Funding Committee.

"People are so busy. It's hard to find volunteers, so when Bowling Brook said they'd take it over, we said, 'Wow,'" Kreimer said.

Bowling Brook Preparatory School, which is in Keymar, will sponsor the breakfasts, held on the third Sunday of the month, except in June, July, August and December.

Like the townspeople who hated to see the breakfasts go, the school wasn't ready to see the tradition end.

"The people in town had reached their goal of paying their mortgage but had also built up a clientele of 500 to 600 people that didn't want it to go away," said Mike Sunday, Bowling Brook's executive director.

"We receive support from the town through ambulance and fire service, and other things, and we talked about it, and with the culinary arts program planned, we thought to keep [the breakfast] up," Sunday said.

Bowling Brook is a 12-month program for 16- to 19-year-old male juvenile offenders. Community service is a large part of the program, along with academics. Students have been helping with the Union Bridge breakfasts for years.

Bowling Brook, with the town's blessing, had organized the Union Bridge breakfasts in October and November, but the breakfasts remained at the community center.


"We have a large and more modern facility for the breakfast," said Bill Clarke, the school's case management director. "We serve 200 meals three times a day here. And we've been sending 10 to 12 young men over there [to the town breakfast] to help out with serving and cleaning up."

Last Sunday was the first breakfast held at the school's dining hall. Even with having to send out for more bacon before 10 a.m., school officials and diners deemed the breakfast a success.

"We fed 417 people on top of 200 students and staff and made $2,400," Clarke said. "I think it went very well for our first breakfast, but there are some things we can do to make it better next time."

Kreimer praised the school's efforts.

"Most all the committee members and volunteers all went to breakfast Sunday and it was great," Kreimer said.

"It's a fantastic facility and the breakfast was really, really good. We thought it was nice to sit down and have them serve us. We didn't know how to act."


Other diners echoed Kreimer.

Jeff Dowery of Union Bridge, who attended the breakfasts in town, said, "It's a lot better and bigger - the hospitality is good, the atmosphere is kindness."

Sisters Helen Neuhauser of Owings Mills and Charlotte Gehr of Westminster have been attending the Union Bridge breakfasts for more than a year.

"It's very nice and clean, and the boys are so polite, and they're willing to help you," Gehr said. And the food was "very good," Neuhauser said.

For retired schoolteachers Cindy and Larry Schlude of Westminster, their first breakfast was "a pleasant surprise."

They liked the variety and quality of food and the friendliness of the students.


"We're really amazed at the politeness of the young men," Cindy Schlude said.

From the driveway to the dining hall, students greeted visitors, welcomed them to the school and wished them a nice day.

Student volunteers served the tables, making sure diners had everything they needed.

Brandon Maze, 18, and Hipausanna Ipalook, 19, both from Montgomery County, were among those serving the tables last Sunday.

"It's a lot of work, but fun - it's real good to give back," Maze said.

"It's fun," Ipalook agreed. "You meet and greet people, and everybody is so nice. It's a good time."


Union Bridge Mayor Brett Grossnickle said the town would probably decide on an individual basis how to spend the proceeds from the breakfasts.

The school turned over $1,200 to the town from the two fall breakfasts.

"I think it should be used for youth-oriented programs because of where it's coming from," the mayor said.