Annapolis welcomes new citizens on July 4th

— Join Historic Annapolis in welcoming forty new citizens into the American family at a naturalization ceremony on Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

The free event, which has become an Independence Day tradition, will be held on the rear terrace of the William Paca House and Garden, home of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, at 186 Prince George Street in Annapolis. William Paca, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Thomas Stone were the four Maryland men who signed the historic document in 1776, and all of them lived in Annapolis at different points in their lives. 

Robert C. Clark, President and CEO of Historic Annapolis, will host the ceremony. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials will administer the Oath of Allegiance to the candidates for citizenship. 

The NJROTC unit at Annapolis High School will provide the color guard, and the All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis will lead the singing of the national anthem and perform a selection of patriotic songs.

Squire Frederick Taylor, Town Crier of Annapolis, will officially open and close the program. 

Seating for the outdoor ceremony will be reserved for the new citizens and their invited guests, with limited seating and standing room available for members of the general public. 

Following the naturalization ceremony’s conclusion, the William Paca House and Garden will be open free of charge from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the restored two-acre colonial garden on their own, and guided tours of the home’s first floor will begin every fifteen minutes from 11:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. 

The Historic Annapolis Museum at 99 Main Street and the Museum Store at 77 Main Street will both be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on July 4th. The Museum’s new exhibit, “Freedom Bound: Runaways of the Chesapeake,” highlights the stories of nine slaves and servants who attempted to escape from bondage between 1728 and 1864.

Health Department offers free HIV testing

— The Anne Arundel County Department of Health will provide free and confidential testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, on National HIV Testing Day, Thursday, June 27, 2013. Free HIV testing and counseling services will be available from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Ashbury United Methodist Church, 87 West Street, in Annapolis; Bay Ridge Apartments Community Center, 1 Bens Drive, in Annapolis; and Hall United Methodist Church, 7780 Solley Road, in Glen Burnie. Free food and giveaways will be available. For more information, call 410-222-4498. Also, follow the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Program on Twitter at @HIVXpressions.

The Department’s HIV/STD Prevention and Care Program encourages HIV testing for anyone who has ever shared needles, syringes or drug paraphernalia; had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sex with someone who had an STI; or had unprotected sex with a person who had unprotected sex with others. All pregnant women should have HIV testing as part of their regular medical care.

In 2011, Maryland had the third highest rate of new HIV diagnoses for any state or territory in the nation and the fourth highest rate of estimated adults living with diagnosed HIV. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than one million people in the United States are living with HIV. One in five people do not know they are infected. Medical treatments are available to help people living with HIV; but, to receive treatment, individuals must first know if they have the virus.

For more information about year-round free HIV testing and HIV/AIDS services at the Annapolis, Glen Burnie and Parole health centers, visit the Department’s website,, or call 410-222-7108.

Mother of Redskin Quarterback RG3 delivers message of hope, inspiration at homeownership workshop

— The mother of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III urged families attending a homeownership workshop on Saturday, April 13, 2013 to live within their means focus on their dreams and never, ever give up— even when faced with adversity.

“No matter how low you start out in life or how many times you’re knocked down, you can get back up again,” Jacqueline Griffin told a standing-room only audience at HomeFree-USA’s Keys to Success workshop sponsored by Bank America, with support from DHCD. “I know how hard it is when you’re striving, when you have goals, and something happens. It’s not what you go through, but how you go through it.”

Griffin described how she and her husband believe in living frugal, faith-filled lives and raised their family with the same values. When her famous son hurt his knee after a Rookie of the Year season with the Redskins, she said, he turned to his parents and asked “Now what?”

“We told him, ‘now comes the test for something greater,'” she said. “I know not everybody is going to be an RG3,” she said, “But whatever your dreams, you have to nurture them.”

Secretary Skinner joined Mr. and Mrs. Griffin and Capitol Heights Mayor Kito James at the daylong workshop in the Washington suburbs. The Griffins recently moved to the Washington region at their son’s request.

HomeFree, like counseling agencies throughout Maryland, is helping prospective homeowners prepare for a strengthening economy, noted Secretary Skinner. After the collapse of the national housing market in 2007, members of the MD HOPE Counseling Network focused on foreclosure prevention. Today, counselors are helping families repair their credit, organize their finances and put themselves in position to buy the home of their dreams.

Programs such as the Maryland Mortgage Program can help families take that first step to homeownership through competitive rates and significant down payment and settlement cost assistance. Learn more.

“Buying a home may not be as far out of reach as you think,” Secretary Skinner said. “And now is a great time to buy— with interest rates at, or near, historic lows and sales prices may never again be as low as they are now.”