By Carlee Berkenkemper
Elm Staff Writer
Friday, Sept. 6 was the first First Friday during the 2019-2020 academic year, and despite some intermittent rain, the streets became crowded with Washington College students, faculty, and members of the town.
Campus favorite businesses, such as Twigs and Teacups and the Bookplate, stayed open until 8 p.m., and the Lockbriar & Daughter farm-made ice cream cart made an appearance serving black raspberry, chocolate, and pumpkin flavors.
A string quartet, comprised of advanced students from the Fiddlesticks Youth String Program, provided musical entertainment for the evening. The program was part of Chestertown’s National Music Festival Organization, and provides free instrumental instruction for local students in grades three through eight since 2013.
Caitlin Patton, executive director and strings instructor, said, “The kids have worked really hard, and I’m so glad they get to play, and people get to hear them. Hopefully, we can come back for more First Fridays in the future.”
Alongside the quartet reception, this month’s First Friday was unique with the involvement of Kent County Community Food Pantry, the Kent County Chapter of United Way, the Good Neighbor Fund, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, all of whom have volunteer opportunities for WC college students.
“From participating to sending our flyers, there’s a lot of ways students can help,” said Mariam Satchell of the Food Pantry. “We have the weekly food bank, we also have things like social media posts, and we have different events around the county, like Chester Gras.”
The Kent County Community Food Pantry, located at Christ United Methodist Church, opens its arms to the public every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
United Way, an international nonprofit that, according to their website, sets out to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good,” made their fourth annual appearance at First Friday to raise awareness and kick off this year’s campaign.
WC’s Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm has sat on the board of the Kent County United Way for six years.
“In Kent County, we raise money that is then distributed to various agencies that in turn help people, whether for domestic violence, poverty, and so forth. We try to raise awareness around issues that impact people in Kent county whether that be their health, wellbeing, or economic security,” said Feyerherm.
According to Feyerherm, WC President Kurt Landgraf agreed to match any donation that came from the faculty and staff.
“Because of him, we raised $43,000 of the $225,000 campaign, so about a sixth of the entire campaign,” she said.
Rosemary Ramsey Granillo of the Good Neighbor Fund said, “All of the churches come together and provide one-time assistance to residents of Kent County and Northern Queen Anne’s. Our volunteers sit at a table on Tuesday or Friday and interview folks who are coming to the social services who need a night at a hotel or need to cover medical bill or pay some back rent.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters, a one-on-one mentoring and enrichment program, is looking for “bigs,” or anyone 18 and older to pair with the “littles” — kids ages six through 16.
“Here on the shore, it is limited resources for our youth because funds are scarce,” said program member Erica Morton. She is hoping to attract more students from the College to volunteer.
“You can play basketball, you can take [the kids] dancing, it’s fun and they really look forward to seeing someone,” she said.
As for more free events, the Eastern Shore Food lab will be participating in the next First Friday after becoming a staple of the free community event last spring. October’s menu will consist of tacos made entirely from scratch. The tortillas will be crafted with local maize fully nixtamalized, meat will all be hand-ground from locally sourced farms, and food lab interns will even be preparing their own cheese.
Center Director of the Eastern Shore Food Lab Dr. Bill Schindler said, “The plan is at every first Friday we are offering incredible food, we are cooking entirely from scratch, and we are sending messages through that food. It’s a great way to see the food lab, experience the food lab, and get some of the best food you will have the entire year, right here.”