All posts by Hearts & Homes for Youth

January 2023 Happenings

A Warm Welcome to New Foster Parents

Michelle and Troy Willis live in Glen Burnie, MD (Anne Arundel County), in a house with 2 spare rooms for foster youth. They have a passion for DIY projects, arts and crafts, and new technology (so their home is absolutely lovely). Michelle enjoys shopping, hiking, skiing, watching movies, and spending time with children. Troy likes games (board and video), skateboarding, snowboarding, sports, and spending time with family. Both Troy and Michelle are laid back parents who also excel with clear expectations, creative consequences, and proficiency in working with a child’s biological family. They are both lovely, empathetic, and warm individuals.

January Foster Parents of the Month

We are thrilled to announce Carolyn and Kenneth Bartee as January foster parents of the month. Carolyn and Kenneth are compassionate and nurturing foster parents. They are trauma informed and always willing to put their own personal feelings and needs aside to provide the best possible care. Thank you, Carolyn and Kenneth for being exemplary foster Parents. We appreciate you!

Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? If you would like more information, please email Annie Brandicourt at: or call Annie at (231) 412-7812.

We’re Thankful for Community Support!

It was wonderful to receive this generous donation from the Gamma lota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. They stocked us up with umbrella strollers and baby care products for the young mothers in our Damamli Program. Many thanks go to Jazmyn Colon-Johnson for organizing this donation drive for us!


We’re especially grateful to Narrisa Johnson. She started her own organization, Gooddeed NJ, LLC to give back to the community. Hearts & Homes is the first organization to receive a very generous financial donation from Narrisa. She’s pictured holding the sign with her son hiding behind her. 🙂

Kimberle Searcy from the Jack and Jill Club of PG County dropped off many toiletry bags for young women coming into our programs. She is shown with a sampling of them.

The purpose of the Jack and Jill Club is to provide social, cultural and educational opportunities for youth between the ages of two and nineteen. Find out more at:

Calling all Social workers

A magnificent team of Hearts & Homes social workers visited the University of Maryland to recruit graduating social workers at the UMD job fair. The need for social workers is great and we’re hiring!

Hearts & Homes is a fantastic and rewarding place to work, and we provide great benefits. Find out more at or email your resume to Nicole Smith at:

December 2022 Happenings

Wishing all of our friends a Happy New Year!

Thank you for Holiday Gift Drive and End of the Year Contributions

Our Hearts & Homes kids were super excited to receive their many holiday gifts from all who participated in our Holiday Gift Drive. Everyone was so generous, and each child in our care had many of their wishes fulfilled! It touches our hearts to see the love extended by the community to our children. Many, many thanks to all our Wishmakers!

Adam Abramowitz & Andrea Goldin, Alan & Sue Krueger, Arlene Brens, Barbara Jordan, Beltz Family, Carey Miller, Charlene Bolden, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – Savage Mill & Columbia 2nd Wards, Concord St. Andrews Church, Council of the Great City Schools, David Moon & Melissa Coolidge, Dan Vallone, DLH Corporation, Edelman Financial Engines, Education Week, Elevation Ministries, Fred Pugh, Jannette Hasan, Kingdom Fellowship A.M.E. Church, Lindsey Auriemma, Mike & Nan Whitehurst, Michelle Steffes, Mindy Steffes, Montgomery County Planning Dept., Paley Rothman Attorneys, Shacarra Johnson Meridian, Silver Spring United Methodist Church, Stephanie Haynes, Susan Massey, Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church Women’s Ministries, Vivianna Rivera

We also are very grateful to everyone who contributed to our End of the Year Campaign. Your financial donation helps us provide our deserving kids with the best care.
All of us at HHY are overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and generosity!

Welcome New Foster Parents!

We are super excited to welcome the wonderful Shontel and Mike Bracewell to our foster parent team! Shontel and Mike are a kind and welcoming couple who are excited to jump right into therapeutic foster care. Shontel is warm and intuitive, while Mike is laid back with a great sense of humor. Mike enjoys sports of all kinds, relaxing on the couch, and doing fun activities with Shontel. Shontel loves shows, shopping, festivals, family time, community activities, and watching movies with Mike. They have a very adorable and friendly labradoodle named Coko. Please join us in welcoming Mike and Shontel to Hearts and Homes!

Hearts & Homes Receives an Award from Montgomery County


Hearts and Homes had the pleasure of being honored by County Executive Marc Elrich for all the hard work we do in the community. It was a privilege to have lunch with him and his team and talk about the needs of the kids and families we serve. They also participated in our Holiday Gift Drive providing us with many gifts for our kids. Thank you, Marc Elrich and team, we appreciate you!!!

Yum! Crumbl Cookies for kids! We graciously accepted this yummy cookie donation from Crumbl Cookies in Waugh Chapel. Many thanks to them for thinking of us and sharing their wonderfully delicious cookies!

October/ November 2022 Happenings

FUNraiser at Topgolf

Thank you to all of our generous sponsors who helped make our 2022 FUNraiser a great success, especially our Premier Sponsor, Standard Technology! We had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones, playing the game of Topgolf, eating yummy food, and dancing to the tunes of the Dynamic DJ Entertainment. We appreciate all who came out to support us.  You may view photos of the event at:

Become a Wishmaker

You can grant a child a wish by participating in our Holiday Gift Drive. Each child in our care creates a list of items that they wish to receive. If you would like to participate, we will send you the name, age, and wishes of the child you choose to help. Any help you give will send a message of care and support to our young people. Contact Hazel Eguia at for more info or to participate.

A Happy Welcome Back

Welcome back to HHY Ms. Diane Johnson! Ms. Diane was a foster parent with Hearts and Homes pre-COVID, but took some time away during the pandemic to attend to her family and her own health. We are so pleased to announce that Ms. Diane has returned to Hearts and Homes, ready to foster another child and to continue her growth as a foster parent! We are lucky to have her back.

We Celebrate Success

One of the young mothers in our Independent Living Program struggled significantly with hygiene and daily independent living skills. She had a hard time keeping her apartment clean. Our staff provided hands-on training to help her learn the skills needed to effectively parent and provide for herself and her child. Recently she was successfully discharged from our program, and she and her child found a safe and stable housing situation that meets their needs.

 A 16 year old young man struggled all last year to attend school consistently. With the support of his foster parent, his clinical case manager, and other staff members, he has made huge strides in improving his attendance. This past school quarter, he not only attended almost all classes, but passed all of them.

Our Volunteers are Awesome!

It was great fun to have the volunteers from Aronson, LLC come out and spruce up our JumpStart Program. They painted many rooms and gave the kitchen a good cleaning. We greatly appreciate all of the help and support that we receive from Aronson! Many thanks to Clint Woofter for organizing the event.

Foster Parent of the Month

We are excited to announce Martha and George Benyella as the October foster parents of the month. The Benyella’s are exceptional foster parents who deeply care for the youth in their care. They are great advocates and provide a safe and loving home environment. They promote extracurricular activities, sports, and performing arts. They ensure that the youth have ample opportunities to grow and thrive. We can always count on them to provide respite care. Thank you, Martha and George for being a part of the HHY team. We appreciate you! 

August 2022 Happenings

Foster Parents of the Month

We’re excited to announce the foster parents of the month of August – Jonelle and Denzel Wimbush. The Wimbush’s are compassionate, nurturing, knowledgeable, and kindhearted foster parents. They are always willing to help out other foster parents by providing respite, and they go above and beyond to ensure that the youth in their care are given ample opportunities to learn and thrive.  From trips to Disney Land, family gathers, one on one talks, the Wimbush’s are extremely committed to providing a sense of normalcy and a healthy family dynamic to all the children in their home.  Thank you, Jonelle and Denzel, for all that you do. Your dedication and hard work do not go unnoticed.

It’s Back to School Time!

We celebrated the end of August with a back-to-school picnic for our kids. They enjoyed basketball, jump rope, pizza, and received a backpack filled with school supplies. We’re grateful to DLH Corporation for supplying us with over 70 backpacks for the 20th year in a row! Our youth are happy to be well prepared to start their school year. Many thanks to DLH!

Woof, Woof!

Big thanks to Bark Social for hosting Hearts and Homes. Bark Social is a social club for dogs and dog lovers. We had a blast tabling, and raised funds for our foster kids, introduced ourselves to some people interested in fostering, and got to pet a lot of cute dogs. Check them out at

Summer Fun

Our Mary’s Mount girls enjoyed a day at a summer bash and got to ride horses! They also were able to attend a magic show and try their hand at some tricks.

Our Avis Birley home has partnered with Pets on Wheels. They come to the program bi-weekly with a friendly therapeutic animal. This provides our young men another therapeutic outlet and teaches them about caring for animals. They look forward to this visit and have truly loved the experience.

Don’t Miss Out on the FUN

Would you like to enjoy a fun evening and support children at the same time? Please join us for our Annual FUNraiser at Topgolf in Germantown on November 3.  Topgolf is a sports entertainment complex that features a high-tech golf game that everyone can enjoy. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy! Come play with us and experience great food, drinks, music, and a silent auction. All proceeds from this event go directly to the children in our care. Visit for more info and to register. We hope to see you there!

July 2022 Happenings

Wishing everyone a fun and safe summer!

New HHY Foster Family
We’re excited to welcome a new foster family to the HHY Foster Parent Team! Kim O’Brien and her daughter Angeleena, along with their dog, chickens, lizard, cat, and two goats, are ready to welcome a foster teen into their home with love, fun, and Laughter. These two have experience fostering in the past and make a fantastic dynamic duo that serve to welcome any foster teen into their home. We are thrilled to have them as part of the HHY family and look forward to putting their foster family skills to use in the near future. Welcome Angeleena and Kim!

We Love Our Volunteers
Thank you to the Law Firm of Paley Rothman for helping us freshen up our Kemp Mill home. They did an amazing job with their excellent painting skills, and were lots of fun to work with. We appreciate their support for our youth!

It’s Summertime!
It’s always challenging to keep teens busy during the summer months. Here’s what some of our teens are doing this summer:

• Working part time at Popeye’s along with a part time construction job
• Working at McDonald’s
• Attending an afterschool program at the Montgomery Recreation Center
• Training and starting to work as a pet caretaker
• Taking financial literacy classes
• Spending some summer time with a sibling after being separated for a year
• Attending an archeology class
• Taking a vacation with family at Virginia Beach

We hope you and your family are having a great summer!

Staff Appreciation
We were excited to honor our dedicated staff with a staff appreciation party at Topgolf in Germantown. Topgolf has great food, drinks, and the game is super fun to play! Thank you to the board members who came out to celebrate with us. Look for info to come about the FUNraiser we’re planning to have at Topgolf in the fall.

Thank you, Mr. Boddie!
Fred Boddie has been with our agency for 11 years. During the day he‘s a full-time teacher for the Montgomery County School System. When not teaching, Fred shares his time with the young men at our Avis Birely home. He has been a tremendous support and mentor for our youth, and is always in good spirits and willing to help when needed. We are truly grateful for Mr. Boddie and all he does for our young men.

Save the date, November 3, 2022, for our FUNraiser at Topgolf in Germantown.
More info to come!

June 2022 Happenings

Rex Smith 1938 – 2022

It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of one of HHY’s founders, and former CEO, Rex Smith. Rex spent most of his life and career uplifting young people and the community. He made quite an impact in his over 40 years of human services, and he will be greatly missed!


Our Avis Birely therapist, Rhiannon, started Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) with one of the youth in her program, Tony. Tony and Rhiannon completed the TF-CBT model this week with amazing results. On Tony’s Pre-Trauma Screening, he scored 22 points, which is indicative of frequent and intensive trauma related symptoms. After completion of the model and completing the Post-Trauma Screening he scored only a 12, reflective of much lower frequency and intensity of his symptoms! Thank you, Rhiannon, for your dedication and hard work in helping Tony through this treatment process!

Foster Parent of the Month
We are happy to announce that this month’s Foster parent of the Month is Angela Claggett! Angela has been a foster parent with HHY for 2 years. She’s a passionate advocate for the youth in her home by providing a stable and structured home life. She is always willing to go the extra mile to help children accomplish their goals. Angela is resourceful, direct, and hands on. Thank you for everything you do Angela! We appreciate you!

Fun with Staff at Avis Birely

At HHY, we are always looking for fun and creative ways to encourage and support our awesome staff. They work day and night to provide the best care for our kids. This month the staff at our Avis Birely Therapeutic Group Home had an entertaining paint and sip team building experience. Aren’t their pictures cute?!


Join our Team!
We are hiring! You can make a difference in the lives of youth throughout Maryland who are overcoming adversity! Explore career opportunities at Hearts & Homes for Youth. We have the following open positions:
Social Workers, Life Skills Specialists, Senior Counselors, Full Time & Relief Residential Counselors.
Click here to Apply!

APRIL/MAY 2022 Happenings

Celebrating our Young Mothers on Mother’s Day

We celebrated the young mothers in our Damamli Independent Living Program with a Mother’s day Lunch. The girls were treated to a delicious meal at Matthew’s 1600 in Catonsville, MD. They also received gift bags filled with goodies. We are proud of our young mothers!



Rob and Linda Hermann, Foster Parents of the Month for April

We are thrilled to announce the Foster Parent of the Month – Linda and Rob Hermann. These two are an incredibly dedicated couple who have been with Hearts and Homes for over 20 years! Their empathy, consistency, wisdom, and years of experience make them incredible foster and adoptive parents to all the children in their family. We are so lucky to know them and to have seen the positive impacts they have had on foster children over the years.

Hearts & Homes Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Thank you to all of our sponsors and the golfers who participated in our 10th Annual Charity Golf Tourna-ament, especially our Premier Sponsor, Standard Technology, Inc.! We were thrilled to see all of our old friends and make new ones. Thank-fully it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day. Congratulations to our First Place winners, Halpern Financial; Second Place winners, HUB International; and Third Place winners; Paley Rothman, Attorneys at Law.

Click here to see the photos from the Event!

Thank You Sandra Queen!

Sending a big shout out to Sandra Queen an HHY counselor. Ms. Queen has been with our agency going on 9 yrs. She has been an integral part of our Kemp Mill program. She takes on additional tasks and shifts whenever asked and is a true team player. Ms. Queen always has the youth’s best interest at heart and motivates them to achieve their goals. We are truly grateful to have her.

On to College!

Deshaun has been with us for 7 months coming from Baltimore County. He has been able to attend school on a reduced schedule and work a job while at our Jumpstart program. Program manager, Dion West, took him to University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne for the Engagement Day for Future Freshman at the end of April. Deshaun had a great time and wanted to make it official. Shortly after he received his acceptance letter for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore! We are so happy and excited for him in this next chapter of his life! We wish him the best in all his future endeavors!

A Positive Outing

The young men in our Avis Birely Program were able to attend a motivational event by Tony Hoffman, From Prison to the Olympics. He shared how he reformed his life by setting goals, developing healthy coping skills, and healthy friendships which helped him reform his life.

March 2022 Happenings

March Was Social Work Month!

We celebrated our Social Workers during Social Work Month. A fun night was had by all at the Walrus Oyster and Ale House at Columbia Mall. Our highly qualified team of social workers are vital to the work we do, providing much needed care and support to the youth we serve. They actively engage our youth in individual, group, and family therapy leading them to brighter futures!

We love Our Social Workers!

Speaking of Social Workers, Rhiannon Richards has gone above and beyond in her role as the Social Worker at our Avis Birely Therapeutic Group Home. In the last few weeks there has been a significant transition in leadership at the program, leaving Rhiannon as the remaining consistent face of the program. She has picked up additional programmatic duties to ensure continuity of care for the youth. She has also been providing additional therapeutic support to the young men as they work to adjust to the change in leadership. Rhiannon’s dedication to the wellbeing of our youth is truly admirable, and the agency is lucky to have her as part of the Social Work team!

A Heartfelt Welcome to Our Newest Foster Parents!

Welcome Martha and George Benyella! The Benyellas  are an exceptionally loving couple excited to open their hearts and their home to a foster child in need! As the parents of five adult children, the Benyellas are motivated to continue on parenting and giving back to their community. Both George and Martha are most looking forward to providing steady care and consistent nurturing to any child placed in their home. However, George is particularly excited to play sports with a child while Martha is looking forward to teaching a child how to cook and having lots of good laughs together. Hearts and Homes is so excited to welcome Martha’s warm energy and George’s patient listening ear into our foster parent family!


We are super proud of Marcus, a young man in our foster care program. He competed in his middle school’s spelling bee and won! He then participated in the next round and won again! Now he’s on to the National Spelling Bee contest. We wish him the best and will cheer him on to success!


Don’t forget to sign up for our Charity Golf Tournament!
May 23 – Norbeck Country Club