October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

— With breast cancer currently the second most common cancer in women, according to government health statistics, awareness and early detection are crucial for treatment outcomes. With this in mind, every October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness of the disease and funds for research and treatment.

While most women are aware of the disease, many fail to take steps to  detect breast cancer in its early stages, say the experts at the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

As such, each year in October, women are encouraged to create an “Early Detection Plan.” The benefits are proven; when breast cancer is detected early in what is known as a “localized stage,” the five year survival rate is 98 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. Having a plan is all about creating reminders to conduct breast self-exams, and to schedule clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history.

More free information about creating an Early Detection Plan is available at www.earlydetectionplan.org and by consulting your personal health care provider.

This October, make sure the women in your family are  active in helping to safeguard their own health and that of their loved ones.

‘One Maryland One Book’ author Reyna Grande tours Maryland

The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) welcomes 2014 One Maryland One Book author Reyna Grande to Maryland from September 28 – October 1, 2014 for a six-stop statewide tour to speak about her memoir, “The Distance Between Us.” Grande will start her tour at the Baltimore Book Festival, then travel to Washington, Carroll, Wicomico, Montgomery, and Charles Counties.

One Maryland One Book (OMOB), a program of the Maryland Center for the Book at the Maryland Humanities Council, brings diverse groups of Marylanders together in library, school, and community settings to share a common reading experience through book discussions and companion programming each September and October.

The 2014 book was chosen by a committee of librarians, educators, authors and bibliophiles in January from a list of over 100 titles suggested last fall by readers across the state inspired by the theme, “the American Dream.”

In “The Distance Between Us: A Memoir,” Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling, unvarnished, resonant” story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.

Poignant, heartbreaking and lyrical, The Distance Between Us powerfully captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.

To find discussions and other programs or author tour information visit www.onemarylandonebook.org.

Six local women to be honored at Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception

— The 19th annual Fannie Lou Hamer Awards Reception will be held on Sunday, October 5, 2014 in the Frances Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College located at 60 College Avenue in Annapolis from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Each year the event, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Annapolis, recognizes six women who have contributed to the advancement of civil and human rights in Anne Arundel County. This year’s honorees include: Rhonda L. Johnson, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Tryphenia Ellis Johnson, Continental Societies, Inc.; Pat Richardson, publisher, Capitol Gazette; Tracey Parker-Warren, Esquire, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Board; Connie West, Foster Parent; and Charyl “Whitney” Youngblood, Sojourner-Douglass College.

Tax-deductible tickets for the event are $35, which includes the awards ceremony and a reception with light fare. For tickets, call: 301-538-6353. Information at https://www.facebook.com/FootSoldiersMemorial

The Fannie Lou Hamer Awards recognizes women from various racial backgrounds who have excelled in their chosen field. Anne Arundel County is the only jurisdiction in the State of Maryland to recognize the birthday of Fannie Lou Hamer by hosting a tribute to her. The Fannie Lou Hamer awards are designed to honor women, who may not be household names, but like the late Mrs. Hamer worked diligently to improve civil and human rights in their community. Each year, a committee consisting of members of the community reviews the names of women who either live and or work in Anne Arundel County. Six women are chosen from the names that are submitted.

Pat Richardson of Annapolis, the publisher of the Capital-Gazette newspapers. Richardson was chosen because her publication has partnered with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Inc., in helping to create the award winning Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial in 2013, which recognizes participants in the 1963 March on Washington. Her newspapers also partnered with the Martin Luther King Committee to create the first and only Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in the state of Maryland located at Anne Arundel Community College.

Rhonda L. Johnson, of Gambrills, president, of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, North Arundel County Alumnae was selected because of the work she has done in promoting voter registration and voter education. Like the late Mrs. Hamer, she has sought to empower the community by encouraging citizens to participate in the electoral process.

Tracey Parker Warren, Esq., of Severn, is a lawyer that has served on the Anne Arundel County Commission on Women and the Human Relations Commission. Currently a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Warren helped to spearhead the successful campaign to create the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial.

Tryphenia Ellis Johnson, of Severn, was selected to receive the 2014 Fannie Lou Hamer Award because of her involvement with the Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In addition to supporting voter registration and voter education programs for the NAACP, she has worked with juveniles educating them on the criminal justice system.

Constance “Connie” West of Millersville was selected to receive the Fannie Lou Hamer Award because of her efforts at mentoring youth as well as being an active Foster Parent. She is a retired educator, who has decided to adopt children who are in need of parents.

Charyl “Whitney” Youngblood, of Edgewater, is a graduate of Sojourner Douglass College and has been active in the Annapolis Southern Maryland Alumni Association for Sojourner Douglass College. She has spearheaded numerous fundraising campaigns on behalf of the campus in Anne Arundel County.

Fannie Lou Hamer (October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977) was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader, the last of 20 children born to Mississippi sharecropper parents. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in that capacity. Her plainspoken manner and fervent belief in the biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and civil rights activist.

Hamer continued to work in Mississippi for the Freedom Democrats and for local civil rights causes. She ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965, and was then seated as a member of Mississippi’s official delegation to the Democratic National Convention of 1968, where she was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War.

She worked on other projects, including grassroots-level Head Start programs, the Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.

Hamer died at the age of 57. Her tombstone reads one of her famous quotes, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

The Annapolis-based Martin Luther King Jr. Committee Inc., founded in 1988, hosts two major events each year, the annual Fannie Lou Hamer Reception in October and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Dinner held in January to honor those local citizens whose leadership in civil rights has helped keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. The proceeds from these events are being used to pay off the debt incurred by building the Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial.

What to do if your wages are garnished

— If you’re falling behind on your debts, beware: You don’t want to end up one of the millions of Americans who get their pay garnished.

To avoid being hit, call your creditor or the firm collecting the debt and try to negotiate a payment plan, said Robert Hobbs, senior fellow at the National Consumer Law Center.

Explain the details of your financial situation and propose an amount that you can realistically pay each month.

If that doesn’t work and the creditor decides it wants to seize your wages, it generally needs to get a court order first. That means you have the right to appeal.

Look at the judgment and make sure everything is correct.

For example, if you moved residences and the judgment was served at your former residence, that could be grounds for stopping the garnishment.

If you see anything incorrect, consult a lawyer. This directory of attorneys specializing in garnishments from the National Association of Consumer Advocates is a good place to start.

If the judgment is correct, it may be a good idea to pay off the debt using a low interest loan. Taking a loan with a 5% interest rate to pay down credit card debt with a 36% interest rate could make a lot of sense, Hobbs noted.

And be sure that you’re not being garnished more than is allowed.

Under federal law, creditors can garnish a maximum of 25% of earnings or the amount of disposable income that exceeds 30 times the minimum wage — whichever is smaller. Read more about your rights on the federal level here.

Some states also have rules that provide stricter limits, so check with your state department of labor. Benefits like Social Security and welfare are generally exempt from garnishment as well.

If all else fails, the last resort could be to file for bankruptcy. You can’t discharge some kinds of debt in bankruptcy, like certain government debts. But you can probably get the wage withholding stopped.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys has a directory of lawyers.

“The most common reason people go bankrupt is because of a garnishment,” said Hobbs. “It’s not something to be done lightly, but it can get rid of most judgments.”