Couple sparks movement to support homeless families

Arnold Harvey, a 58-year old Gaithersburg, Maryland based sanitation worker and his wife, Theresa Harvey, exhibit kindness and generosity year-round. Through God’s Connection Transition (GCT), a nonprofit that they founded in 2007, the couple and several family members touch the lives of those in need. They distribute food and household items through their warehouse located in Gaithersburg. This holiday season, GCT expands their community work to reach vulnerable populations in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore, by providing toys and Christmas dinners.

Around 2006, Arnold, now a 24-year employee of Waste Management Inc., began his morning shift at 2 a.m. working in Silver Spring and around the District line. The father of five noticed men, women and sometimes children sleeping in unexpected places like alleys, doorways, under stairs and behind trash cans. Arnold, an Army veteran who served in the military for eight years, began offering encouraging words. While building friendships, Arnold discovered that the majority of homeless people he encountered experienced hardships, during the first signs of the economic down turn. Harvey and his wife took action.

“One day we said we’re going to start giving out sandwiches. The shelter wouldn’t open until a certain time of night and would be closed until that evening or morning. They were at the mercy of whoever would feed them or until they were able to go back to the shelter. We made it a habit of giving out sandwiches in evenings, several times a week or on weekends. If it was cold on Sunday mornings, before we did anything, we would take coffee oatmeal, coats, blankets, coffee—whatever we had,” Arnold said.

In late 2007, the Harveys sold their stocks, dipped into their 401(k)s and took out loans to buy goods and assist strangers who had fallen on hard times. They organized a food pantry in their garage before moving to a small building. When GCT obtained their 503(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2009, businesses and individuals started noticing their work and mission. An estimated 5,000 families are assisted monthly through GCT and their partners and referral network consisting of 13 churches, shelters, senior homes, pantries and soup kitchens.

Families who need food to tide them over for a few days are often local, although many people seeking help come from various locations.

“We do an interview by appointment with them to see if they’re eligible to come in and shop once a month. They receive up to ten bags of items each time they come in and shop. It’s set up as a grocery store with meats, vegetables when available, diapers, shampoo, lotion, dish soap, baby food…clothing. It’s got everything in it,” Arnold said. “Our daughter, Angela Harvey, works for us. She put her career on hold as a journalist, after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2013, and runs day to day operations as the operations manager. She wants to make sure that the organization is set up for years to come. My son-in-law, Raphael Clement, is the director of operations. We’re so thankful.”

Theresa and Arnold work full-time jobs. Arnold delivers items and organizes GCT’s warehouse on his only day off. Arnold’s compassionate nature that sparked a movement to help others is partially tied to his own upbringing.

“I grew up with a divorced mother of 12 in the inner city of Kansas City, Missouri. We stood in government food lines. We lived in houses that we shouldn’t have, but it was all our mother could afford as a single parent.”

The late George W. Brown married Arnold’s mother, the late Beatrice Brown. George reportedly moved his new family to the suburbs and instilled a work ethic into his stepchildren, several of whom elevated themselves through military service.

“I made a promise to God. ‘If you see us through this, I will do whatever I can to help anybody else,’” Arnold said.

GCT is currently working on obtaining grant funding. To learn more about the nonprofit or to make a donation, visit: or by calling 301-355-5144.

Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular rings in 2015 at the Inner Harbor

— A new year is almost here! Celebrate the beginning of 2015 with family, friends, live music, fireworks and lights. Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular takes place Wednesday, December 31, 2014 from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Starting at 9 p.m. Baltimore-based band “Under The Covers” will perform a unique blend of high-energy Top 40s covers at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, located at Pratt and Light streets. Following the performance, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and event-goers will count down to the New Year.

At the stroke of midnight, colorful fireworks and lights fill the sky above downtown Baltimore. The annual Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular is presented by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. Additional support is provided by Visit Baltimore, Southwest Vacations, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and The Gallery. WJZ-TV 13 is the media sponsor.

The fireworks and light show are produced by Image Engineering.

Engineering is comprised of a team of artists, videographers, engineers and creative thinkers at its headquarters in Baltimore. Since 1979, they have completed over 500 projects in the field of creative multimedia shows for clients such as Rihanna, Jay Z, America’s Got Talent and multiple professional sports franchises in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

For the full experience, residents and visitors can view the fireworks from along the Inner Harbor promenade. The show can also be seen from the neighborhoods of Federal Hill, Locust Point, Canton, Harbor East and Fell’s Point.

In addition, WJZ-TV 13 will broadcast the celebration at 11:30 p.m. on CBS Baltimore.

Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Metro Subway, Light Rail and Bus are the best ways to get downtown for the holiday celebration. Metro Subway and Light Rail service is extended for one hour after the event. For information on MTA services and schedules, visit:

For more information about Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular, visit:

Indie Soul Book Review: AND Then There Were None by Clay Thomas Williams

Indie Soul Book Review: AND Then There Were None by Clay Thomas Williams

Self-published author Clay Thomas Williams’ book, “AND Then There Were None,” is a real page turner. Indie Soul and The Baltimore Times take pride in reviewing independent authors and introducing readers to new talent.

The main character Octavia seems to have a dream life with a wonderful husband who would do anything for her. Still, she is not satisfied and looks for love somewhere else. What she does to find that happiness will blow your mind.

The book has a lot of plot twists that will keep you guessing until the end. Williams provides the reader with a message that sometimes the thing that is best for you is right in front of you. Pick up your copy and find out for yourself. For more information visit

CSM hosts ‘Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls’

The College of Southern Maryland hosted 150 area middle school students Wednesday, December 3, 2014 for the “Cool Careers in Cybersecurity for Girls Workshop,” led by the National CyberWatch Center K-12 Division’s Educational Technology Policy, Research and Outreach program (ETPRO).

The goal of the workshop was to introduce female students to the academic and career opportunities available in the cybersecurity field. With a scenario described by ETPRO Executive Director Dr. Davina Pruitt-Mentle and with guidance through problem-solving exercises from cybersecurity professionals from organizations in the D.C. Metro Region, the students learned about the challenging investigative work that is part of this field. CSM Vice President of Academic Affairs Robert Farinelli told the middle schoolers, “All the doors are open for you as you graduate high school when you take as many math and science classes as you can. Don’t let people talk you out of taking math because it is too hard. The ‘hard’ is what is good.” He also invited the students to CSM’s annual Women + Math conference for students ages 13 and older scheduled for April 18, 2015. For information on Women + Math, visit

Indie Soul: Opera legend Jessye Norman

On Friday, December 5, 2014, The Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Walters Art Museum partnered to bring opera icon Jessye Norman to Baltimore to discuss her memoir “Stand Up Straight and Sing!”

The Walters Art Museum was near capacity to hear the music legend as she discussed everything from how she was introduced to music to the civil rights movement and many more issues covered in her book.

When asked by the audience about her thoughts on the protests in Ferguson, Missouri she did not hesitate and responded, “Keep doing it! It is what’s needed. And if I could join the protesters today, I would!”

The event was hosted by Tom Hall of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

For more information about future events at the Enoch Pratt, visit: and at the Walters Art Museum, visit:

Indie Soul welcomes your questions and comments.

To contact Phinesse Demps, call 410-366-3900 ext. 3016 or 410-501-0193 or email: Follow him on Twitter@lfpmedia.

LETTER: Dreaming of a green Christmas


This year, I’m dreaming of a green Christmas— where animals aren’t abused, the planet isn’t polluted, and humans are healthy and light. Here are five reasons to eat a vegan feast— and not animal flesh— for Christmas:

  1. ‘Tis the season for peace and goodwill: Only a Grinch would cause animals pain and suffering.
  2. Meat production contributes to climate change. The North Pole won’t be a winter wonderland if Santa’s wearing Speedos and polar bears are clinging to melting ice floes.
  3. Gathering around a great tasting meatless meal is much more fun than gathering at the hospital to visit someone who indulged in too many meaty meals.
  4. Vegans tend to weigh less than meat-eaters. You never want to grow too big to sit on Santa’s knee!
  5. Versatile vegan foods generally cost less than meat. A little extra “jingle” makes everyone jolly.

If you’re yearning for a green Christmas, too, see for festive vegan recipes and product suggestions. And have a merry, green Christmas!

Heather Moore

The PETA Foundation

Norfolk, VA

Sauerkraut: A traditional Baltimore side dish

— Why is sauerkraut a traditional holiday side dish in Baltimore? Where did it originate?

Sauerkraut, which means “sour cabbage” in German, is pickled cabbage. Fermented foods have a long history in many cultures, with sauerkraut being one of the most well known instances of traditional fermented cabbage side dish. It is believed that it was introduced to Europe in its present form more than 1,000 years ago after an invasion of China. It took root mostly in Eastern European countries and German cuisines. Eastern Europeans in particular eat a lot of sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut was introduced in the United States, particularly in the northeastern area. In Pennsylvania, it is eaten with pork on New Year’s Day. This tradition was started by the Pennsylvania Dutch, is thought to bring good luck for the upcoming year.

Serving sauerkraut in Baltimore at Thanksgiving is an old tradition rooted in the homes of the city’s German immigrants. In 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, about a quarter of Baltimore’s population was German. Sauerkraut was a staple on the table and so it became a common part of Thanksgiving meals across the city whether or not your family was German.

Baltimoreans prepare sauerkraut with pigtails, smoked pigtails, or neck bones. Sauerkraut may be purchased in the refrigerated section of the supermarket in bags or on the shelves in jars or cans. Some markets will have crocks of sauerkraut.

An excellent cook, Phyllis Watkins purchases sauerkraut in bags and prepares it with smoked pigtails for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Phyllis’ Sauerkraut with Smoked Pigtails


Phyllis Watkins prepares sauerkraut for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Smoked Pigtails

2 lbs. sauerkraut

1 peeled apple

Salt and pepper

Dark Brown Sugar

Cook pigtails until tender almost coming off the bone. Add sauerkraut, and then add a peeled cored apple. Add salt and pepper to taste; finally add a dash of dark brown sugar. Simmer until ready to serve.

Marylanders encouraged to “Shop Maryland for the Holidays” at local shops and stores

— With Thanksgiving Day a delicious memory, Marylanders are busy checking off items on their holiday shopping lists. Comptroller Peter Franchot once again encourages residents to “Shop Maryland for the Holidays” as he begins his 2014 shopping tour at locations throughout the state.

“Holiday time is about being with good friends, family and the communities we call home. What better way to promote holiday cheer and goodwill than shopping in the many terrific local shops and businesses in the places we live,” Comptroller Franchot said. “By shopping at local businesses, you support the more than 500,000 Marylanders employed in our state’s retail sector.”

The Maryland Retailers Association (MRA) says this holiday is important to retailers in communities throughout Maryland.

“Retailers depend on shoppers during the holidays. It is their busiest time of year,” said Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. “Retailers appreciate the support and give back throughout the year by supporting local activities, providing employment and paying taxes. MRA urges consumers to shop locally for their holiday needs to support the people employed— who may be family, friends or neighbors— and to show their support for those retailers who provide so much to the community.”

Hyattsville (Prince George’s County), Bethesda, (Montgomery County), Easton (Talbot County) and Cambridge (Dorchester County) are among the first of many planned stops on the Comptroller’s annual tour promoting local retailers and community shopping areas. He also will visit merchants in restaurant owners in Annapolis (Anne Arundel County), Baltimore City, Catonsville (Baltimore County), Cumberland (Allegany County), Hagerstown (Washington County) and Prince Frederick, (Calvert County). In past years, the Comptroller has also shopped in, Ellicott City, Hunt Valley, Leonardtown and Salisbury.

Comptroller Franchot also reminds consumers that in-state shopping puts citizens’ hard earned money back into their communities and supports local businesses that employ friends and neighbors. He also believes “shopping locally gets consumers the best product, service and experience for their dollar.”

For those who prefer to shop from home, the Comptroller reminds Marylanders to support local store owners by making sure you buy from a Maryland business website.”

The gift of time

I often wonder about how we can best nurture our children. What will our children remember most about their childhoods? Will it be the lessons that I tried to impart to them about being a “good” person? Will it be what I formally taught them in terms of their academics and proper study habits? Will it be the outings to get ice cream after school, or taking naps together on a Sunday afternoon?

It is difficult to say sometimes what decisions and behaviors impact our children the most. On Mother’s Day, both my son and daughter brought home hand made cards from school. My son’s card said, “Happy Mother’s Day. I love you because you are a good coocer.” (“cooker” or chef). I was taken aback, as I never really thought my son was interested in food or what I made for him…but apparently, he noticed.

My daughter’s card was slightly more extensive, but included a section saying, “I love my mom because she got a toy out from the car after I left it in there by mistake.” I clearly remembered that incident. It was bedtime, and my husband was out of town. After hours of stalling and requests for water, stories and snacks, I was done. Done. My daughter was upset because she left her favorite stuffed doggie in the car, and said she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without it.

The thought of having to go downstairs, open up the garage, unlock the car, and locate the missing toy (and all of its associated garments) was about to send me over the edge. But I paused for a moment and saw the situation from her perspective. She missed her stuffed animal and wanted it for reassurance and comfort. She had no ability to go to the car and accomplish this herself, the way she could choose her own book or go downstairs to get her own glass of water. So, I set my frustration aside, and I did it. I had no idea that weeks later, this would be her example on a Mother’s Day card of what she appreciated most about me.

I think on a moment-to-moment basis, our kids love receiving gifts, or being spoiled with treats. But when it comes down to it, they value our time and presence the most. They value time spent doing activities together, whether it’s reading, going for a walk or driving back and forth from school. But, I am not sure the choice of activity matters. For a child, I think being in the presence of an adult who loves and treasures the little person next to them, is invaluable.

I am painfully aware that spending time with me won’t always be number one on my kids’ priority list. Already, my daughter prefers to close the door to her bedroom and read alone, rather than next to me in the kitchen or family room. My son is starting to ask about sleeping over at his friend’s homes. They will grow up in front of our very eyes, so gradually that we will wake up one day and not realize when our little ones became grown, adult beings. We will wonder where the time went, and where we were when it passed us by. We will miss the requests for one more story or snack before bed.

When we speak of mindful parenting we speak of being aware of the present moment. Sometimes, when you are exhausted and have a screaming, sleep deprived, hungry child who is mid-tantrum at Target, the present moment is not so wonderful. The last thing we want to do is immerse ourselves in it. In those moments, we can be aware that being a parent is not always roses and rainbows, but that there are also moments of difficulty and sacrifice, and moments where our deepest emotional reserves become depleted.

But if we can find a sliver of gratitude, even the tiniest bit or an iota of compassion for ourselves and our children we can create a space. We can create a space to step back and observe the child in front of us, the parent within us, and all of the mixed beauty and frustration that can accompany that journey that we embark on together. We also create a space to realize that, thankfully, this moment won’t last forever…and, at the same time, tragically, this moment won’t last forever.

Dr. Monisha Vasa is a board certified General and Addiction Psychiatrist in private practice in Orange County, California. She is the author of the new non-fiction children’s book, “My Dearest One.” For more information, visit:

The Buick Club of America builds community around the classic

Owners of all cars are proud, however, people who own a Buick are a unique and enthusiastic group indeed.

They assemble as The Buick Club of America, but you don’t have to be a Buick owner to join the club; you just have to love Buick.

My grandfather once said to me as a child a Buick is the most luxurious car you can own.

He would have been a member of The Buick Club of America if he had been aware such club existed. Established in 1966, this non-profit organization is going strong, continually growing.

It has a specific and simple mission: the preservation and restoration of automobiles built by the Buick Motor Division of General Motors Corporation.

The Buick Club of America is a highly active club with online and real-life interactions for those who love Buicks.

You can locate upcoming national Buick events online at The Buick Club of America website.

There’s contact information about each of the chapters and regions and a hearty forum that discusses matters of Buick performance, and a way to buy and sell Buicks and their parts. This highly engaged forum will keep you discussing Buicks for hours.

You can also join the club online and receive regular magazines and newsletters about what The Buick Club of America is doing as well as updates on Buick the brand and the car.

There’s an equally active group on Facebook for The Buick Club of America that’s comprised of more than 3, 400 people who chat daily about the beauty of Buick.

Check out a few of the beautiful posts that have created excitement among the Buick enthusiasts on Facebook:


The group is about community and story sharing:

They share videos. Here’s an interesting documentary about the history of Buick


Buick – History Documentary (1995)


They post their classics:

You’ll find all sorts of rarities posted by followers:


Where did it come from?


How do you measure brand loyalty?


Found some Buick nostalgia via an old ad too:

The Buick Club of America offers an outstanding experience for Buick owners and admirers alike!