Bridget Tippett, a hygienist with Leiken & Baylin Dental Care on Frederick Road, and her daughters, Sophie, and Ruby, spent 10 days in Kingston, Jamaica, cleaningteeth, providing fluoride treatments and caring for those who need it in that impoverished Caribbean country.

The 10-day trip in late July and early August was through the auspices of the national Christian Dental Society and it definitely made an impact on each of them.


"I am used to being pampered and it was hard to see the living conditions of the residents. I feel grateful for everything in my life," said Sophie, a freshman at Catonsville High.

They worked long days in a church converted into a makeshift clinic, where they were joined several other groups to provide medical care to hundreds of residents.

The clinic provided several stations — an internist, a pharmacist, an optician, a gynecologist and the dentists.

Each day, they woke at 6 a.m. and worked until 7:30 p.m.

"It was so hot, we were sweating through our clothes," said Bridget, who cleaned the teeth of almost 25 patients each day.

"It was both wonderful and awful," she said. "People arrived at 4 a.m., traveled for miles and sometimes the line was so long they could not be seen.

"I felt bad for even taking a short break to eat, there was such a need for help."

Ruby liked assisting her mom in the clinic, even though the working conditions were challenging,

"The lighting was poor, so I held the flashlight while my mom worked," said Ruby, a junior at Catonsville High interested in child development who also spent a few days working at the vacation Bible school set up for the kids.

Her sister not only helped with the dental clinic, but with the others as well and made lots of friends among the patients and kids from the mission's organization.

The days were long and sometimes difficult.

"I broke down once, but there were supportive volunteers in our group that helped me," Sophie said. "I would do it again, no question."

They stayed in a local apartment unit they shared with a local lizard.

Bridget returned to her Catonsville home, where husband Rob and her 11-yer-old son, Sam, were waiting, exhausted, but thankful for the experience.


"We're all so proud of Bridget on a day to day basis, but this reinforces why Bridget is such a special person. She sacrificed her summer vacation to help people with a desperate need for care," said Dr. Scott Baylin.

Thanks, Tippett ladies, for being wonderful ambassadors and representing Catonsville so well.

Clearing the trail

The No. 8 Streetcar Path took a beating from Hurricane Irene. Three large trees fell across the path and hundreds of limbs fell to the ground.

"Within a few hours of daylight on Sunday morning, John Dingle and Eric Nye (Sugar Court residents whose property backs up to the trail) had already cut up the trees with their chain saws and cleared the path," according to an email from Maureen Sweeney Smith, a Catonsville Rails to Trails board member who joined a neighborhood crew to restore the trail it to its pre-hurricane condition.

Claudia Bohnert of Dutton Avenue cleaned the garden behind her house, which she maintains along the trail.

Rick Smith and Maureen stacked fallen limbs and used a commercial blower to clear debris from the asphalt.

Thanks to the Montrose Manor resident who cleared and swept the trail near the complex.

Catonsville Rails to Trails is also working to improve another trail, The Short Line in east Catonsville. It received massive damage, with 18 trees knocked down along the 1/2- mile trail from Maiden Choice Lane to the rear wall of Charlestown retirement community.

Several other trees were knocked down from Maiden Choice Lane to Shady Nook, behind Western School of Technology and Environmental Science.

This trail has been closed.

If you have a chain saw and can help, contact Maureen at sweeneysmith@comcast.net or 443-326-5476.

For more information about the trails, go to http://www.catonsvillerailstotrails.org.

Hillcrest Elementary good to go

Hillcrest Elementary PTA's "Green Initiative" is twofold this year.

The first part is the completion of an outdoor classroom in the outside courtyard in the middle of the school. It was created when the county added onto Hillcrest two years ago.

Originally, the design called for the enclosed outdoor area to be paved. However, some very motivated parents convinced the county to allow the school on Frederick Road to turn that area into an outdoor classroom.

Jeff Plusen, a local landscape architect, worked with the project committee to design the courtyard space.

Local business and individuals supported the project through donations.

The second part of the Green Initiative is a new fundraising plan, Invest in Hillcrest.

After a subcommittee of the PTA determined that fundraising efforts involving sales were ineffective, it was decided to find a better approach.

The solution was a direct-giving campaign in which every dollar raised went to support PTA-funded programs at the school.

"Parents donate the same amounts of money as they have in the past, but the PTA gets to keep all of the money," said committee chairwoman Bambi Stevens.

This was an improvement over the sales campaigns in which, on the average, 50 cents of every dollar paid for the merchandise sold.

Direct giving is "green" because it is more efficient for three reasons:

• Contributions go to the school

• It eliminates the amount of wrapping paper or low-nutrition foods

• One donation and it's done. Parents aren't harassed by multiple requests, which use a lot of paper.

And there is no guilt for parents who feel they must buy something they really don't want.

Last year's first direct giving campaign was the PTA's best fundraising year ever.

The Courtyard Committee plans to purchase garden benches, plants and host educational programs in the courtyard space.

Go to http://www.hillcrestelementarypta.co or contact Bambi at bwstevens@nilesbarton.com or Rachel Weker at rachel.weker@gmail.com for more information.

The Caton sisters

Join the Catonsville Library's Reading Club for a discussion about "Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sister at Home and Abroad" by Jehanne Wake, on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room. Refreshments will be served.

The book, published in 2010, is wonderful biography of Marianne, Bess, Louisa and Emily Caton.

Our town was named after their father, Richard Caton.


Their grandfather was Charles Carroll, the only Catholic and longest-surviving signer of the American Declaration of Independence.

"The eldest three sisters moved over to Britain shortly after the Napoleonic wars and were some of the earliest American women to enter British society," according to the author's website (www.jehannewake.com).

Cheryl Thurber, a historian and former college professor who facilitates the book club discussions, will provide background information on the author and bring her own knowledge to the discussion.

What's cooking

Here's a unique educational culinary opportunity for cooks looking to increase their skills.

Oak Forest resident and chef extraordinaire Ona Cavey is offering gourmet cooking classes in her beautiful kitchen.

She will teach students how to 'seize the kitchen', rather than have their kitchens control them.

"Good skills, flavor pairings, prepared pantries, including fridge items, are all keys to successful and tasty meals," she said.

October and November classes will include:

• Grilled pizza from scratch,

• Holiday meals,

• Holiday finger foods and appetizers,

• Food gifts and baskets,

• Comfort foods.

There will be a special children's class Oct. 21.

Classes are for anyone who wants to create good, wholesome foods and to improve and broaden their existing culinary skills.

"My goal is help people reach theirs," she said.

Contact her at Ocavey@verizon.