Park Potomac Master Association was named Charitable Community of the Year in the Community Association of the Year Contest. They are managed by Barkan Management, LLC, AAMC. This is the essay submitted with the community’s application.
By Bruce M. Fonoroff, Vice President, Park Potomac Master Association
Park Potomac Master Association Celebrates Ten Years of Helping Underprivileged Children in Montgomery County, Maryland
On August 25, 2018 more than 350 residents of Park Potomac and neighboring communities came together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their “Ice Cream Social for Charity,” ICSC for short. Part community volunteerism, part fund raiser, part block party, the objective of the ICSC is to collect new backpacks for underprivileged children so that they can start the school year confident, proud and ready to learn.
Park Potomac, built on 57 acres of former farmland off Route 270 in Potomac, Maryland, is designed as a mixed-use community, and is comprised of three distinct groups–elegant brownstones, high-end condominiums and rental residential units, and a variety of commercial entities (restaurants, shops, offices, and other businesses)–all of which come together under an umbrella organization called the Park Potomac Master Association.
Ten years earlier, in 2008, a group of individuals who had just moved into the new planned community were musing about how fortunate they were to be living in such comfortable surroundings. The conversation gradually turned to what they could do to give back to the larger community. Although by some measures Montgomery County is among the wealthiest in the nation, the fact is that over one in three county school children qualify for free and reduced-price lunches–a Federal government program for low income families. Many of these families struggle to provide the supplies their children need to begin the school year prepared to succeed. Someone in the group suggested working with an organization called Interfaith Works of Montgomery County to help underprivileged children…and an idea was born.
Interfaith Works (http://www.iworksmc.org/) provides a long list of emergency and empowerment services to low income county residents, including temporary and permanent housing, a clothing center, meals, and a variety of vocational services.
On Fridays in August, the IW Clothing Center opens for children from eligible families to “shop” in a welcoming room filled with backpacks of every style, color and size. Children can take their time to pick out the backpack that is just perfect for them. Over the last ten years the Park Potomac community has provided more than 8,000 backpacks, thousands of dollars in donations, and tens of thousands of other school supplies for children in need.
Ms. Monica Barberis-Young, the Director of Interfaith Family Services, writes: “The Park Potomac Community has become the one source I know I can rely on to assist the families that I serve. Park Potomac is by far the greatest contributor of school supplies to our Backpack Distribution Program. It is because of their annual Ice Cream Social that 2,490 Montgomery County children received backpacks this year. Park Potomac exemplifies goodwill and the notion that it takes a village to support and help our neighbors in need. As one parent puts it, “We are a low-income family and it is really hard to raise our kids in this situation. We work hard for our kids to have a good future and we want to thank your program for helping us.”
With Park Potomac’s support every child who leaves the Interfaith Clothing Center with his or her brand new backpack filled with age appropriate school supplies is on the way to a better start for the new school year, and a brighter future.