December 1, 2018 - Issue 128
Share your thoughts and priorities with County Executive-Elect Marc Elrich

Share your thoughts and priorities with County Executive-Elect Marc Elrich this Saturday 12/1 at Takoma Park Middle School at 3pm (7611 Piney Branch Road, Takoma Park MD). If you can't make it it will be live streamed by Montgomery Community Media

Sessions in Potomac and Bethesda are in the process of being planned. Check the transition website for info. 

Download the flyer and please spread the word!

See the coverage from the   11/17 session at Kingsview Middle School

Holiday Craft Show December 1

Looking for unique holiday gifts or décor? Montgomery County Recreation is hosting its 40th annual Holiday Craft Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, at the Bauer Drive Community Recreation Center.

The craft show will feature more than 60 local and regional artists and craftspeople selling original works of art, photography, jewelry, candles, holiday decorations, woodwork and more. See press release for details. 

Winter Registration Open for Recreation & Parks Programs & Activities

Visit ActivMontgomery to sign up for Montgomery County Recreation and Montgomery Parks programs and activities. 

Winterfest Bazaar Saturday December 8 at Universities at Shady Grove

The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business will be hosting its annual Winterfest Bazaar. 

60+ local, unique vendors, food and alcohol samples, Santa, and much more at the Winterfest Bazaar on Saturday, December 8th from 10:00am-3:00pm at The Universities at Shady Grove!

All proceeds from the event will be donated to the charitable foundations of Make-A-Wish, Toys for Tots and various Universities of Shady Grove scholarship opportunities. See details on website.

Public Meeting Nolte Local Park Community Garden Discussion December 4

Montgomery Parks is seeking public input on a proposal to install a community garden at Nolte Local Park.
Tuesday, December 4,  7 - 8:30 P.M. at  East Silver Spring Elementary School. See more details online  

Lifelong Learning Institute Open House December 7

Montgomery College's Lifelong Learning Institute will host an Open House: Free Mini-Lectures, Resource Fair, and Fun Activities on  Friday, December 7, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Center for Training Excellence: 900 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, parking around the building
Multiple workshops on art, brain fitness, careers, computers, history, politics, wellness, and more. Wear comfortable clothing, and bring a friend who is new to LLI to receive a gift. If you would like to help Montgomery College students in need, please bring a non-perishable food item (can or package). Spring registration will be available at this event. RSVP strongly recommended to help us plan; please email Linda Schrack or call 240-567-7809.  

Purchase with a Purpose at annual Holiday Market in Silver Spring in December 16
The Latino Economic Development Corporation-Empowered Women International is hosting its sixth annual Holiday Market in the Silver Spring Civic Building on Sunday, December 16 from 11am-4pm. Shop for unique gifts and support local immigrant, refugee and low-income women! There will be over 40 local women and artisans and food vendors. For more information and to RSVP, visit the Eventbrite page here.

Montgomery County Community Grants Information Workshops

The Montgomery County Community Grants Program is holding information workshops to launch the fiscal year 2020 (FY20) grants application cycle. Workshops are free, open to the public and identical in content. Representatives from the County Executive, County Council and Health and Human Services will be presenting important information on how non-profit organizations serving County residents can apply for grant funding.
Register online for the December session:

Wednesday, December 5
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Plum Gar Community Recreation Center - Social Hall
For more information on the Community Grants Program, please visit the County Executive Grants website and the County Council Grants website.

Third "UnNaugural"
Concert Tickets Now on Sale!

The third annual "UnNaugural" Concert featuring five singer/songwriters will raise funds for five local advocacy organizations in Silver Spring on Friday, January 18, 2019. 

Tickets and more information can be found at and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @UnNaugural.

Thank you for helping us build one of the world's most welcoming communities
Building a Wonderful, Welcoming Community

As someone who was born and raised just seven miles from where my office in Rockville is today, it has been a special joy of my life to be able to play a part in welcoming people who have come here to Montgomery County from every corner of the globe. I have had the opportunity to work with and for extraordinarily talented and committed people who have travelled here thousands of miles and come from other cultures. And I didn't even have to move.
I am so grateful to all of you who have contributed so much to making my home county such a better place. I so appreciate the amazingly creative and dedicated staff people with whom I have had the pleasure to work. Our Office of Community Partnerships is by government standards pretty tiny. But I am proud of all that we have done. With an attitude of collaboration and great energy, we have been able to have an impact on the lives of county residents far beyond what one might imagine looking at our small size on the county org chart.
I am most grateful to our wonderful County Executive Ike Leggett for his friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve. In a job like mine, I'm supposed to make the elected boss look good. In fact, it was usually Ike Leggett who made our Office of Community Partnership look good. When he was running for County Executive in 2006, I told people Ike Leggett was the right guy at the right time at the right place. As Montgomery County was transforming from the traditional, largely white bedroom community of my youth to the vibrant, multicultural community of today, I knew Ike Leggett by virtue of his demeanor and his background and his enormous political skill was the perfect person to steer us to a time when our county no longer had a majority race or ethnicity.
Harvard professor Robert Putnam famously proclaimed that the greater diversity in a community, the less neighbors trusted each other, the less people voted, the less they volunteered. Ike Leggett created the Office of Community Partnerships and charged us with bringing fresh faces and new voices to the table without forcing aside those who were rightfully there. Building a bigger table became the metaphor for our work. We have labored hard every day for twelve years to prove Professor Putnam wrong. We know we are stronger together. We know that politics doesn't have to be a zero sum game. We know we can build community by treating everyone from every different background with dignity and respect.
Under Ike Leggett's leadership and on the foundation of extraordinary leaders before him, we have built a special community. We cannot take it for granted. We can trust that our new Executive and Councilmembers will carry on our welcoming tradition. But we know that democracy takes hard work. We know we must be ever vigilant. There is still plenty to do to reduce the disparities that remain. Keep your sleeves rolled up and keep pushing forward. We all need to make sure the work of building one of the world's most welcoming communities continues.
Bruce Adams
Director, Office of Community Partnerships

If you need to follow up on OCP business, please email Diane Vu at To contact me, please send me an email at

Inaugural Ceremony for the Montgomery County Executive
& Members of the County Council - December 3 
The official swearing in of the newly elected Montgomery County Executive and members of the 19th County Council will be held on Monday December 3 at 11:00 AM at Strathmore. Tickets will be distributed onsite starting at 9:30 AM the day of the event with the doors to the concert hall opening at 10:00. There is no parking on site. Click here for details, including shuttle bus information
Inaugural Ball on December 3rd
This year's Montgomery County Executive's Ball is also the Inaugural Ball for our new County Executive Marc Elrich. Monday December 3rd at 6:00 PM at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center. 

Proceeds from the 33rd annual ball and raffle will support arts in education programs in Montgomery County. Last year, the Ball raised $300,000 for over 80 arts and humanities organizations across the County. You can purchase a ticket to attend, or if you want to contribute but can't come to the ball, buy a raffle ticket to support the arts, and have a chance to win a 2018 Prius. See website for more details.

Executive Ball banner
Save the Date and Plan to Be Part of MLK Day of Service
On Monday, Jan. 21, join thousands of other Montgomery County residents in celebrating the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving our community. The Volunteer Center will hold its annual MLK Day of Service event featuring a  wide variety of family-friendly service projects, plus a volunteer fair--at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, 1-3 pm that day. Participants will have the chance to help with everything from packaging food for the needy to making fleece scarves for hospice clients.

In addition, there will be multi-project service events in Gaithersburg (9-11 am), Silver Spring (10 am-12 noon), Germantown (1-3 pm), Rockville (10-12), and Olney (11-2). All sites, including North Bethesda, require advance registration. 
Find the sign-up links and details here.

Montgomery County continues the annual celebration of Dr. King's birthday at Strathmore that afternoon. This year's theme is "Women of the Dream".  Watch for more details coming soon!

County Executive Honors Austin Heyman
County Executive Ike Leggett thanked the members of the Commission on Aging at their November 29 meeting for their great work in making Montgomery County a community for a lifetime. County Executive Leggett recognized Office of Community Partnerships Senior Fellow Austin Heyman for five decades of service to the residents of Montgomery County. From his first role as a PTA leader to founding Interages to promoting initiatives to support Seniors and for the last twelve years as a Senior Fellow promoting community engagement by Seniors, Austin Heyman has been a community icon helping to make sure residents of all ages are treated with dignity and respect.

Photo of A Heyman and COA being honored by CE
Commission on Aging Chair Isabelle Schoenfeld, County Executive Leggett,
Austin Heyman, Council President Hans Riemer

League of Women Voters Panel on "Connecting Diverse Communities"
The Montgomery County League of Women Voters hosted a panel discussion on "Connecting Diverse Communities in Montgomery County" on November 19 at the Marylin J. Praisner Library. The panel was moderated by Claudia Canales, Latino Liaison from the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) and Diane Vu, OCP Asian Liaison provided an overview of immigration policies and county resources. Maya Zegarra, Immigration Attorney from Ayuda discussed legal and immigration issues facing communities and Mimi Hassanein, OCP Middle Eastern Liaison shared her perspective on the voices of the Muslim women.

Photo of LOWV panel on Connecting Diverse Communities

Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange Program

A team of four representatives from Montgomery County visited Germany through the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange, a reciprocal exchange program for integration practitioners and leaders from the United States and Germany who work to integrate refugees and immigrants into their local communities. The participants, who represent County Government, MCPS, and Impact Silver Spring, were part of a delegation with similar representative organizations from three additional U.S. cities selected to participate in this exchange in 2018. 

Montgomery County received a competitive grant to participate in this exchange. 

The Montgomery County participants will share their experiences and action plan at the Down-County Providers Network Meeting  on December 19, 2-4 pm  at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center in Wheaton, Md.
For more information about the Welcoming Transatlantic Exchange Program, visit: For more information about the upcoming Downcounty Providers Network Meeting, contact Kaori Hirakawa at

photo from Germany
The Montgomery County team: (from left) Carolyn Lowery of Impact Silver Spring, John Landesman of MCPS, Kaori Hirakawa from Gilchrist and Monica Martin of HHS.

December Workshops and Information Sessions
The Pro Bono Program provides FREE LEGAL SERVICES to low-income county residents in civil cases.  The Pro Bono Program provides two means for residents to receive free services - at a legal advice clinic or through the client intake line for referral to an attorney volunteer for direct representation.
 - The Montgomery County Maryland Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program Legal Clinics  continue to meet twice a month throughout Montgomery County ( Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center & Germantown meet only once a month). Each of our clinics are staffed by attorneys versed in different areas of practice including Immigration.
- The Pro Bono Program is committed to helping the residents of Montgomery County, MD.  Individual circumstances may vary and income cases we may not be able to assist everyone.
- Call the Pro Bono Program at 301.424.7651 between the hours of 9:00am - 3:00pm Monday - Thursday for additional information.

Free Citizenship Preparation Classes in Montgomery County
  • Montgomery College (MC) provides FREE citizenship preparation classes throughout Montgomery County, including locations in Rockville, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Multi-level classes are funded through a grant from United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) at various schedules to meet the needs of learners.

    Registration will begin on December 4 at 6pm or December 8 at 9am. To register, please bring your green card to Montgomery College, 11002 Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton, MD, 20902. Please check the MC Citizenship Website for more information or call 240 567 8839.
  • Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), a Maryland state agency, provides FREE citizenship preparation classes throughout Montgomery County, including locations in Gaithersburg, Germantown, Rockville, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Multi-level classes are offered on various schedules to meet the needs of learners, including weekends and evenings. Classes prepare students with the ESL skills and knowledge of U.S civics and the naturalization process to complete the federal citizenship exam and successfully become U.S citizens.

    Winter classes and registration will begin on January 5, 2019. To register, please, bring your green card and social security card to any class location. Walk-ins are welcome. Please check the BCCC website to see the full class schedule. Contact Citizenship Program Coordinator Yana Cascioffe for more information at 410-986-3201 or
Citizenship Information Sessions Presented by Montgomery College and Catholic Charities

Are you a legal, permanent resident preparing for the U.S. citizenship test and interview? Come to an information session and discover how Montgomery College and Catholic Charities may be able to help you for free! Information sessions: December 4 at 6pm or December 8 at 9am. See website for more information.
Citizenship Application Workshop hosted by APALRC
Become A U.S. Citizen - Free consultation with experienced immigration attorneys and assistance with naturalization/citizenship applications.  
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018 10:00am - 2:00pm. Long Branch Public Library. 8800 Garland Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20901.
    Please Call to secure an appointment (202) 706-7135
Citizenship Corner info sessions hosted by APALRC at Gaithersburg Library
Questions About Citizenship? Free consultation with an immigration attorney and assistance with citizenship applications.
  • 1st and 3rd Tuesdays (starting November 20, 2018) 6:00pm - 9:00pm. Gaithersburg Library's "Citizenship Corner" 18330 Montgomery Village Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20879.
All nationalities welcome! Please call for help: (202) 706-7135
Free Immigration Clinic hosted by AYUDA
This is a brief advice and referral clinic. If you meet with an attorney, the services you receive will be limited by time, expertise, and the information you provide. You will receive advice that is specific to your situation, but the attorney you meet with will not represent you after the clinic.   
Get a one-on-one meeting with an attorney. Ask your immigration questions!
  • All immigration documents
  • Your passport and the passports of your family members
  • Police reports, if you have been the victim of a crime or if you have been accused of committing a crime
  • Criminal court documents, if you have been accused or convicted of a crime, even if charges were dismissed
Upcoming Meetings of County Executive's Ethnic & Faith Advisory Groups

African Affairs Advisory Group (AAAG) Monthly Meeting will be held on 
Thursday December 13, 2018 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the  Silver Spring Civic Building,  1 Veterans Place,  Silver Spring.  For more information, please contact Josephine Garnem
Asian Pacific American Advisory Group has not set a date for the December meeting. For additional information, contact Diane Vu at
Caribbean American Advisory Group (CAAG) will meet on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD from 7-8:30 pm. For more information, please contact

Interfaith Working Group Meetings

Faith Community Working Group (TBD)

Neighbors in Need Working Group (TBD)

Religious Land Use Working Group (TBD)

Executive Committee (December 19, Rockville Library 10 AM-12 PM)

Contact Sierra Smith at 

Middle Eastern American Advisory Group (MEAAG) will meet next on Monday, December 10, 7-9 p.m., in the OCP Suite on the 3rd floor of the Rockville Library, 21 Maryland Ave. Youth and adults are welcome.  Please contact Debbie Trent at for more information.

Give Back Through Holiday Giving 
You can help make the holidays brighter for those in need by donating food, gift cards, toys, and other items to one of the agencies participating in Montgomery County's Holiday Giving Project which is collecting holiday meals and gifts for more than 9,000 local low-income households. To find these needs--and many more ways to help during this season--visit the Volunteer Center's online list of holiday donation and volunteer opportunities.

Holiday volunteer shifts tend to fill quickly, but there are always lots of ways to serve year-round. Find them on the Volunteer Center website where you can search for volunteer needs based on location, keyword, interest area, and more.
Mark your Calendar for English, Citizenship, and Basic Computer Classes!

The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center offers free and low-cost classes in Wheaton, Gaithersburg, Germantown, White Oak, and East Silver Spring.  Learn basic computer skills, practice your English, or prepare for the citizenship exam with us!  We can also connect you with many other county resources - and we can help you in any language. 
Registration for our winter classes will begin on January 8. Please check out our website for registration dates and more details.  Call us at 240-777-4940 or fi nd us on Facebook at GilchristImmigrantResourceCenter
Montgomery County and Gondar, Ethiopia Sister Cities

In January 2019 Council Member Craig Rice will lead a delegation of twenty Montgomery County residents on yet another historic and memorable trip to Gondar. For the first time in history, the group, including representatives from Montgomery College, will celebrate Martin Luther King Day at the University of Gondar. In addition, a new community park will be opened and dedicated to the people of Gondar.
To be part of the 2019 delegation to Gondar and for more information on how you can get involved, please contact Josephine Garnem at
Gondar Trip Flier
MCMF Fundraising Dinner

The Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF) held a fund raising dinner at the Argyle Club in Silver Spring on October 27 to raise donations to support its programs: Feeding the Homeless, Seniors and Youth activities, distribution of food itemsto the needy persons and families, and the Refugee Rehabilitation program. About 200 persons attended including County Executive Ike Leggett and County Executive-elect Marc Elrich. Both expressed appreciation for the work being done by MCMF to help the needy in the county. MCMF presented a letter of thanks to County Executive Leggett for his support and guidance and welcomed County Executive-Elect Elrich. Several representatives of other faiths and local charity organizations attended the function and also expressed appreciation for the work being done by MCMF. The Program was also attended OCP Director Bruce Adams and Special Assistant to the CE Chuck Short .

photo at MCMF event
MCMF Montgomery County Holiday Giving Program

129 families primarily from the Gaithersburg, Germantown and Rockville received Thanksgiving Gifts from the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF) as part of the Holiday Giving Project. This is the highest number of families served so far by MCMF during Thanksgiving. Families were served frozen turkeys and sides. The invited families expressed their happiness. MCMF will be serving 150 families with Christmas gifts as well.

MCMF holiday giving photo
Discussion on the State of the Census

On Nov. 6th, Keshia Morris, Census and Mass Incarceration Program Manager, joined CAAG for a discussion on the state of the 2020 Census. Highlighted was the importance of ensuring an accurate count which is critical to making sure our government works best for everyone. With dramatic underfunding and a possible citizenship question, the Caribbean community is at an especially high risk of being undercounted which means unequal representation along racial line. CAAG will be speaking out to ensure a fair and accurate census. Learn why the census counts

Affordable Care Act Information & Enrollment Fair

On November 28th CAAG hosted an ACA information and enrollment fair. A certified navigator was in attendance to discuss eligibility/general plan selection and representatives from the African American Health Program and Family Services Inc. joined for a conversation addressing many of the fears in immigrants communities that may lead to a decline in enrollment as a result of the current administrations proposed public charge rule. Qualified immigrants are encouraged to seek marketplace coverage without fear. The ACA open enrollment period runs through Saturday, Dec. 15th.   See if you're qualified and get enrolled!

ACA Info Event with CAAG
Group picture features multiple speakers and service providers who helped with the ACA enrollment Fair including Patricia Fisher from MedStar Family Choice, Andre Vainqueur from Family Services, Inc. of Sheppard Pratt Health System, representatives from African American Health Programs, Pastor Barbalho of Silver Spring SDA Church and Rosemarie Broadell of HHS. 
Multicultural Dialogue Series

The next session in the Multicultural Dialogue Series "Exploring Racism & Bias: Meeting the Divine in the Other" will be held December 9 at IMAAM Center beginning at 6:30 potluck and 7:00 program. See flier for details. And follow link to sign up

Interfaith Hunger Forum

The Interfaith Hunger Forum co-sponsored by the Neighbors in Need Working Group and Montgomery County Food Council filled the hall of the Interfaith Works Clothing Center. County Executive, Ike Leggett, commended the faith communities and partners in multiple hunger reduction programs for making progress on the 5 Year Strategy for Making Montgomery County Food Secure.  Heather Bruskin, Executive Director of MoCo Food Council described the need of 60,000 food insecure residents and the spectrum of programs offered by faith communities and nonprofits. Dan Sadler, Senior IT Specialist with Geographic Information Systems, presented the premiere of the digital map showing 665 faith communities with contact information for encouraging greater collaboration. Exemplary programs at Rainbow Community Development Center, MoCo Muslim Foundation and Critical Issues Forum Advocacy Act for Social Justice were presented plus a call to action by Rev. Dr. Gareth Murray.

Photo at Interfaith Hunger Forum
Interfaith Service of Solidarity

The Greater Washington Community Interfaith Service and Solidarity Gathering drew 5,000 people, both inside and outside, of Adas Israel Congregation, and more than 21,000 shared visually via the livestream. Speakers included Mayor Bowser, VA Governor Northam, MD Governor Hogan, JCRC Exec Dir. Halber, MoCo Interfaith Community Liaison Rev. Kaseman, HIAS Melanie Nezer, and area Rabbis, Cantors and interfaith leaders. It was important to be together mourning, releasing our anger, praying, singing and experiencing the love that heals and empowers. Pictures include musicians, speakers, congregants in and outside, and the largest group are the faith leaders standing in solidarity with their Jewish sisters and brothers for the Kaddish prayer for the mourning. We thank JCRC, the Jewish Federation and Adas Israel for organizing and hosting it.

photo from Interfaith Service of Solidarity
Display Cases at the Germantown Library

Throughout the month of December, the lobby display cases at the Germantown Library will feature various books, stories, and recipes from across the Middle East.
Arabic Classes

Looking for a fun Arabic class for your pre-schooler? Check out Kalimah Programs! A current program in Rockville runs through December 20th. This and so many other Arab American-related cultural and educational events and training programs are listed at the free portal  
Middle Eastern Community Members Attend Listening Sessions

Three MEAAG members attended the CE-elect's Listening Session at Kingsview Middle School in Germantown on November 17th, joining many other county residents of Middle Eastern heritage to express concern about hate crimes against Palestinian and other ethnic groups and call for the continuation and strengthening of public and nonprofit programs to bridge across the county's diverse communities and heritage countries.

Melodies of the Middle East photo from Melodies of the Middle East event

The Sandy Spring Museum was packed on November 11 during the Melodies of the Middle East event. The free program featured performers from Iran and Palestine as well as cuisine of the region. It was an intergenerational, full house! 

This event was planned by the Middle Eastern American Advisory Group, and featured Palestinian dabke dancers and musicians from Palestine and Iran. All of the performers were outstanding, and the dabke group even invited audience members to learn the dance. Members of the Advisory Group also brought delicious dishes from every Middle Eastern Country represented, thus making the event even more jubilant.

Thanksgiving Meals for 500 County families through Chores 4 Charities

Chores 4 Charities partnered with Nando's PERi-PERi in Gaithersburg, Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County Fire & Rescue and Montgomery County Councilmember-elect Will Jawando to distribute meals to over 500 County families for Thanksgiving on November 22.

Chores 4 Charities Photo

Have News to Share?

To submit your news and events of interest to those in and serving Montgomery County's emerging communities and neighbors in need, email complete details and/or a press release to the OCP Newsletter.
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