Category Archives: Hearts & Homes events

January 2024 Happenings

TFC Skating and Dinner Delight!

We organized a fun get-together for our TFC family last January 27th at the Merriweather District in Columbia where we celebrated not only our kids but also our dedicated foster parents. We are thrilled to share the excitement and joy our foster kids experienced at the Burst Ice Skating Rink. The kids laced up their skates and hit the ice with enthusiasm. It was a day filled with laughter and unforgettable memories. After the delightful fun skating, they had a delicious meal at Busboys and Poets with their Foster parents. Thank you to all our HHY families and staff who joined the festivities!

HHY Holiday Party!

We would like to share the joyous occasion of our late holiday party, held last January 18th at Pizzaman in Columbia, MD!  Despite the unconventional timing, the event was a tremendous success, bringing together our wonderful team for an evening filled with laughter, camaraderie, and festive cheer. The venue was adorned with sparkling decorations, creating a magical and festive atmosphere and the holiday spirit was palpable as colleagues shared laughter and joy and enjoyed the photo booth, raffles and delicious spread of food and beverages. Thank you to our board members who also joined us at the party! We can’t wait for next year!

Frolicking Flurries!

Building a snowman is not just about the outcome of how it’s going to look but also about the joy that comes with the process. It’s a timeless activity that brings people together and adds a touch of magic to the winter landscape. Our Avis Birely program embraced this sentiment, spending quality time together enjoying the snow and building a snowman.
Check out the photo!

HHY Employee Highlight!

Nicole Smith, LCSW-C
Nicole earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland-Baltimore. She is our Chief Administrator & Clinical Director and she has been with us for 3 years. She leads a team of dedicated social workers in providing comprehensive and compassionate care to our youth facing mental health challenges. She is very passionate about helping youth gain the skills and confidence needed to become successful adults. Nicole has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2017 and became a Board Approved Supervisor in 2020. She is a Certified Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer. She also provides individual therapy to kids and young adults in a private practice setting.

We Appreciate the Donation!

We received huge bins filled with hygienic products from Montgomery County (MD) Alumna Chapter. Their commitment to making a positive difference is truly commendable. We are immensely grateful for their support in providing these items to our HHY families. We look forward to keeping you updated on the positive outcomes made possible by our donors!

December 2023 Happenings

Look what we Achieved in 2023!


We cannot successfully serve our kids without the help of our community partners and supporters. With the accomplishment of our End of the Year campaign, we raised a significant amount that will be used to run our programs and will help us build more needed services to support the kids we serve. Looking back at 2023, it was a great year, and we are sure enough that with your support we can build a more positive impact in 2024!

Successful Holiday Gift Drive!

We are so thankful for the abundance of gifts we received for our kids and programs at Hearts & Homes. Our kids had an amazing time during the holiday season. Thanks so much to all our Wishmakers! This holiday gift drive wouldn’t have been possible without your help!
Takoma Park SDA Church Women’s Ministries, DLH Corporation, EDUCATION WEEK, Montgomery County Planning Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Adam and Andrea Abramowitz, Melinda Coolidge and David Moon, Edelman Financial Engines, Rebecca McGinnis/Silver Spring United Methodist Church, George Iden/Concord St. Andrews Church, Tonya Harris/Council of the Great City Schools, Kingdom Fellowship AME Church, Barbara Jordan, Nicole Harkin and Brent Lattin, Fred Pugh, Vivianna Rivera, Nicole Herron, Minkoff Company, Charlene Bolden/Elevation Ministries, Dan Vallone, Carey Miller, Michelle Steffes, Mindy Steffes, Susan Massey, William and Marian Lally, Chris Chandler, Susan, Kim Reyes, Julie Tomlinson, Peggy Diggs, Ed Epping, Suzanne Joy, Gale and John Perryman, AmberLace Moore, Jennifer Sevier, Eric and Julia Rutledge, Chris, Emily Wag, Maureen Richmond , Lamia Matta, Laura and Melinda Hutton, Alan Schulman, Scott Marko and family.

Decorating for the Holiday!

Our kids had so much fun decorating for the holidays! This is another simple activity that keeps them entertained and helps them motivate to celebrate the holiday and engage with other kids at the program. Check out one of the trees they’ve decorated!

We Appreciate the Donation!

We received boxes of Bombas socks and Bombas Gripper Slippers Socks for the holiday season from Ticket to Dream and are being provided in partnership with Bombas! You can visit their website at
They also sent us boxes of Jazwares Toys Mix (Coco Melon, Squishmallows, etc.) You can check their website here:

October-November 2023 Happenings

We are so proud of Poetic!

Last week, Maryland Association of Resources for Families & Youth (MARFY) hosted their annual Youth Achievement Awards ceremony, along with their 50th Anniversary celebration. This year, HHY nominated Poetic for her outstanding improvements and accomplishments, including earning a scholarship to Morgan State University. She is an inspiration, and we are proud of her achievements. We are so grateful to the Wimbush family who are Poetic’s foster parents. They have done so much to support Poetic during her journey!

Successful Theme Days!

We celebrated theme days at the office where we wore our favorite sports team, pajama day, “wear pink” day, Halloween costume and much more to come! Pls. check our photos taken during those fun days!

Veterans Day

We will honor Veterans Day 2023 this month in November and pay tribute to all military veterans who have served our country. We will recognize and express our gratitude for the service and dedication rendered to us and their sacrifices, bravery, and patriotism. Celebrating Veterans Day provides an opportunity for us to show appreciation for veterans and recognize their contributions to the nation. Whether visiting Veterans Memorials, attending parades and ceremonies, volunteering, thanking a Veteran, displaying the flags, donating to Veteran causes, or even barbecuing outside or hanging out indoors with family, hopefully you get to enjoy this federal holiday off with people you love.

Native American Heritage Day

Aside from celebrating Veteran’s Day this month we will also celebrate the National Native American Heritage Day on the day after Thanksgiving. We will honor American Indians across the nation, its vibrant cultures, traditions, and heritages and recognizing their many contributions. Join us in celebrating the strength and resiliency of Native Americans and acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.

Holiday Gift Drive

Pls. support our kids and grant their wishes by participating in our Holiday Gift Drive. Each child in our care creates a list of items that he or she wish to receive. If you would like to participate and become a Wishmaker, 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 301-679-1383 or email  for more info or to participate.

HHY Employee highlight!

Marlisa Ashley, Senior Counselor
Marlisa Ashley was born and raised in Sampson County, NC where she remained for her elementary school years. She enjoys shopping and spending time with her loving, devoted family. In her early 30’s she decided to pursue her interest in nursing and aiding special needs children and adults. She is currently working with teenage youth at HHY by providing them support to prepare them to make positive life decisions and to become independent adults.

We Appreciate the Donation!

THANK YOU @tickettodream @Bombas @famousfootwear and @crocs for your beyond generous donation! Our kiddos were super happy with their new kicks and socks! This donation was made possible by our friends at Bombas, Crocs & Famous Footwear!

September 2023 Happenings

Fun time at our Damamli Office!

Ms. K, our new Lead Life Skills Specialist, held an introductory group and facilitated a Jeopardy game around cleaning and hygiene at our Damamli office in Catonsville.  Over half of our girls and some of their babies were in attendance. She also shared an informative topic that benefits our parenting and pregnant mothers. It was a fun way of learning about the importance of hygiene and a great way of spending quality time with our Damamli mothers and babies!

Back to School!

Our kids had a successful first week of school! We had young people starting in elementary, middle, and high schools this year. One of our young people is starting at Morgan State University. What an incredible achievement! We are so proud of her and how far she has come while being in her current foster placement.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

We will celebrate the Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor indigenous American peoples and to commemorate their histories and cultures.  It will be observed on the second Monday of October. It is where we celebrate the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples and  recognize them as the first inhabitants of the Americas including the land that became the United States of America. We will celebrate their survival and contemporary experiences as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.

Another Success Story!

The HHY community has something serious to celebrate! One of our foster youth, Cameron, has officially been adopted by his foster mother, Tristin. The two are pictured on the right, along with Tristin’s other son. This is why we put in the effort, energy, and passion into the work we do. We are so happy for this beautiful family!

HHY Team Building

Our Program Manager at Avis Birely group home, Mr. Kenneth, treated his staff to brunch last week as a THANK YOU for all they do for the program, the agency, and most importantly, for the kids!


HHY Employee Highlight!

Sandra Queen,  Residential Counselor
Sandra is affectionally known as Mama Queen. She began her career at the age of 16 as a daycare assistant through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Program. It was there that she found a passion for helping disadvantaged and misunderstood youth. Over the years, she has worked as a Program Coordinator for five years at a DC group home. During her time there, her duties included overseeing the daily operations of five group homes, facilitating monthly meetings with housemothers/ managers, and coordinating activities for youth and staff. She’s fortunate to having been referred to Hearts & Homes over 10 years ago and has worked her way up to the position of Residential Counselor. For Sandra, it was fulfilling for her to see some of the youth graduate from the programs and become productive citizens. In addition to working with youth and giving them a sense of family, she also enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and working as a Special Police Officer for a private company.

We Appreciate the Donation!

We received boxes of Bombas socks, Sesame Street gift boxes & tubes in new patterns and styles from Ticket to Dream. They are being provided in partnership with Bombas! There is a wide assortment of sizes – infant, baby, toddler & adult. You can visit their website at

They also sent us a back-to-school essentials of new makeup, hair care & skin care from Project Glimmer to send our teens back to school feeling their best! These self-care items are from high-end brands like Peter Thomas Roth, Living Proof, Rare Beauty and more. Please visit their website at

August 2023 Happenings

Great Time at the Beach!

Our staff took our young ladies at Marys Mount and our Helen Smith girls to Ocean City, Maryland for a fun beach day! They enjoyed themselves at all the fun rides, games, food, and of course, the sand! We are blessed with people in the community who donated to Hearts & Homes towards experiences and activities for the youth we serve. Our kids and the staff are all so grateful for your support!

Shoutout to DLH Corporation!

Every year DLH Corporation donates Back- to-School backpacks filled with school supplies for our youth. They have been committed to donating these backpacks for the last 20+ years. This is a great start for many of our  students who attend the first day of school by providing the critical supplies needed for learning.
Aside from donating backpacks, DLH Corporation also sponsored a 3-on-3 basketball tournament for the boys at Avis Birely Group Home and JumpStart Semi-Independent Living program! Staff and supporters were quick to throw on jerseys and be part of the fun. Everyone had a blast and Team Blue won the tournament. Special thanks again to DLH Corporation, Mackie’s Southern Barbecue, and all the volunteers who joined us to make this a memorable summer event.

Thank You Stein Sperling!

Stein Sperling hosted a barbecue party for our girls at Helen Smith and Marys Mount. We are thankful for their continued support for our programs for years. It was a fun day trying the hula hoop and enjoying good food and great company!

Send us an email at if you want to know how you can support our next event!


Celebrating 65 years of Ben’s Chili Bowl!

Some of our young men went to celebrate the 65th anniversary of original Ben’s Chili Bowl last August 22nd on U Street in Washington DC. Ben’s Chili’s showed their appreciation by feeding everyone who came. There was music, friendship, and overall good vibes with special appearances by G-Wiz, Doug Williams, and the Commanders’ cheerleaders. The boys didn’t waste any of their precious summertime by enjoying some chili dogs, burgers, and all manners of good eats!

“I Have a Dream”

Some of our young men spent the day in Washington, DC during the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. It was a great time spending the afternoon learning more about this iconic piece of history. Thank you to our staff for taking the initiative to give the boys this experience!

July 2023 Happenings

 It’s Luau time!

The young ladies at Mary’s Mount Therapeutic Group Home are kicking off the summer! They set a table outside for games and they dressed up in their luau attire. It was a quick and easy way to get in the summertime spirit!

Summer Kick Off!

The foster families and pregnant/parenting teen mothers went to Baltimore’s National Aquarium and they all had a blast! Thanks to Baltimore’s National Aquarium for donating tickets to HHY! It was a great opportunity for some of them who had never gotten a chance to visit the aquarium to enjoy some of the local’s favorite activities. It was great for our foster families to connect during this outing, and for staff to spend some quality time with our families – all while enjoying the marine life!

Fun day at the Busch Gardens

Check out these photos of the boys from Avis Birely Therapeutic Group Home enjoying their day at Busch Gardens. They had such an amazing time enjoying their summer vacation!


Great Partnership with  @commthriveslab

Thank you to this INCREDIBLE team from UMD for coming to our office and training our staff on such an important topic. The research is beyond important! We are so glad to have such a great partnership with UMD Community Thrives Lab!


HHY Employee Highlight!

Ash Callaway,  Program Manager
I grew up in Princeton, TX and I have two little girls, 13 and 10 years old. I was in the Army for 8 years. Since then, I have worked in project Management as well as supporting adults with disabilities. I am passionate about outreach and caregiving work because I have lived with discrimination for being queer, disabled and having been homeless. It’s very important to me to help those that society overlooks and help to change attitudes so that no one is overlooked in the future.

Some interesting facts about me: I have worked as a romance story writer. I built a literal pirate raft and rode it down a river dressed as a pirate. When I was in Thailand, I drank cobra as part of a bonding ritual with Thai soldiers that I was training.

Interested in Foster Care?

Let us know or share this with someone who might be!
Foster Parents Receive:

* Ongoing training
* 24-hour support
* Program activities and events
* In-home clinical services
* The opportunity to provide a teen mom or adolescent
youth with love, nurturing, guidance and the chance to
heal from past hurts.

We are always looking for individuals and families who are willing to open their hearts and homes to children in need.
To learn more Please Email:

June 2023 Happenings

Congrats to our Graduates!

We are proud to announce our graduates! We have youth that graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt HS and Richard Montgomery HS, and we have graduates from Loiederman MS. This is a wonderful accomplishment for many of our youth who have faced many challenges. Thank you to our incredible staff and phenomenal community support in leading these kids to a brighter future.

A Fun Day for our Youth

Our Avis Birely program has a list of incentives for the youth that they can choose from for showing positive impact and good behavior. One of our youths chose to have lunch with our Program Director, Robin Colbert and CEO, Chloe Bernardi. They went to Franks Burger in Wheaton and had a great time. He has lots of summer plans which includes a trip to Six Flags, Bush Gardens, and he’s excited to celebrate his birthday in July!

Our TFC Success Story

After being placed with the Johnson family for two years in foster care, Kevin was legally adopted. The Johnsons have done so much for him providing stability and structure but most importantly, showing Kevin what unconditional love feels like. Words cannot express how happy we are to share this incredible story!

Exciting Summer Ahead!

We have an exciting summer coming up for the youth in our care! In July, Stein Sperling will hold a BBQ cookout for our Helen Smith and Marys Mount programs. We are also going to schedule our 3 on 3 basketball tournament for the boys at our Avis Birely program and this is hosted by DLH Corporation. Our Damamli and TFC youths are going to an Aquarium, amusement parks, volunteer excursions, cookouts, and more! Interested in hosting or donating to help with our kids activities and outings? Pls. click here to donate. Any help is greatly appreciated and will bring a big impact to our youth!

Healthy Meal from our HS Garden

Helen Smith girls are making good use of their garden.  They picked these squash and zucchini and had a delicious farm- to- table lunch vegetable medley!


Save this Date – May 6, 2024

Hearts & Homes Annual Golf tournament is scheduled for May 6, 2024! We had a remarkable and successful tournament this year and we are already looking forward to next year’s exciting event. Thank you so much to all our sponsors, staff and supporters who joined us for our annual fundraiser golf tournament. Hope to see you at Norbeck Country Club next year!


We Appreciate the Donation!

We just received boxes of diapers last week from Ticket to Dream. They are being provided by Dyper, a  responsible diaper company delivering plant-based products. We are grateful for these generous donations that will help our babies at our Damamli/TFC program. You can learn more about Dyper by visiting their website –

May 2023 Happenings

HHY Charity Golf Tournament !

What an incredible day of golfing at Norbeck Country Club! We had an amazing time with all the golfers, staff and volunteers who were enjoying the beautiful day playing golf, enjoying the food and drinks and networking. The money that was donated and raised goes so far to help our kids and gives HHY the ability to keep improving all our programs. We congratulate our top 3 winners: The TekSynap Team, Truist Team and Kayla Kania’s Team. Many thanks to all our sponsors and the golfers, donors, HHY staff, board members, and the staff at Norbeck for making this year’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament a great success.

May is National Foster Care Month

We celebrated our foster parents for National Foster Care Month, and we recognized the dedicated people who promote compassionate and  stable homes for children. Although not all our 30+ families could attend, we were thrilled to see most of them and hand out some awards to acknowledge all the work, effort, and dedication they provided to our youth. Interested in learning more about fostering? Reach out to

Help our Foster Kids!

There are so many ways to support our cause and our kids. CASA workers are infinitely important in the lives of our kids. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer appointed by a judicial officer to provide advocacy for a child who is under the jurisdiction of the courts due to abuse or neglect. The CASA serves as the “eyes and ears” of the judge for children in foster care.

The littlest things sometimes mean the most. please send us a message at  if you want to talk more about how you can help!

It’s Prom Season!

Some of our young ladies and young men were able to enjoy prom at their respective high schools last month. Helen Smith Group Home staff got their young ladies ready and looking like princesses! They all looked fabulous and they all had fun! Special shout-out to Rev. Dr. William E. Butler and First Lady Sonja Butler from Queen’s Chapel UMC for helping our young men from JumpStart Semi-Independent Living Program prepare for their prom and shoutout to Mr. Dion West, Program Manager for helping capture the weekend moment for his youth.

Happy Mother’s Day!

We celebrated our pregnant and parenting teen mothers from our Damamli Independent Living Program for Mother’s Day! These young ladies have faced many obstacles in their lives, but certainly show what it means to be a mother. It was a pleasure for HHY to celebrate them for all they have achieved – and for what’s to come!

Thanks to Adam!

Thanks to Adam for his kind donation to one of our foster kids! Adam was our long-time supporter and was recognized when he was a kid at one of our events for his outstanding work to help the kids at our programs.

April 2023 Happenings

Many Thanks to our Volunteers!

We are so grateful to all the incredible volunteers from Rebuilding Montgomery for renovating our homes. Rebuilding Montgomery has helped more than 2,600 homeowners throughout Montgomery County and engaged more than 50,000 volunteers who have dedicated their time and talents to helping their neighbors. They helped three of our group homes with modifications and improvements – from renovating our bedrooms and bathrooms, and helping with landscaping, etc.  Now the houses look nicer and more functional, and we could not have done it without the support of these amazing volunteers. They have  greatly helped our agency and the youth we serve!

Spring Fling alert!

Avis Birely Therapeutic Group Home hosted their first annual Spring Fling to kick off the season, and the rain didn’t stop them! They grilled, played games, and even had an impromptu water balloon fight – kids vs staff! Many thanks to our incredible staff, board members, and Pets on Wheels for helping the boys put this together. And our biggest thanks to the boys for having this idea to get us out of the office to socialize in the spring breeze!

Foster Parent of the month!

HHY loves supporting our foster parents! HHY staff and fellow foster parents celebrated Ms. Betty as our foster parent of the month of April for her outstanding advocacy for the child in her home! She is truly amazing! Interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent with us? Email:

What success looks like

Jumpstart: Giovanni purchased a new vehicle – a white Honda Accord. Gio and Emmanuel are scheduled to graduate this year.
Helen smith: Hannah is scheduled to graduate and will be adopted at the completion of school.
Mary’s Mount: India has gotten a summer job as a lifeguard at six flags.

It’s National Pet Day!

April 11th was National Pet Day! The youth in our group homes do not have the opportunity to have pets so we partnered with “Pets on Wheels” to bring pups to the program to allow them to engage and pet these cute animals. The kids had an amazing time!


HHY Employee Highlight 

Kenneth Studstill, Program Manager
Kenneth is a veteran who enjoys sports, movies, and museums. He has worked with juveniles and at-risk youth for 30 years and continues to guide young men and women with developing life skills and strategies to deal with confrontation. He has extensive experience with crisis intervention and conflict resolution and is pleased to be using his knowledge of residential facilities and their operational procedures as the Program Manager at Hearts & Homes for Youth.

Join our Team of Social Workers!

Ms. Nikki and Ms. Lucy travel near and far to recruit. If you know any social workers, we are hiring! Email our Clinical Director, Nicole Smith, at to learn more about this amazing opportunity for licensed Social Workers (LBSW and LMSW) and if you have any questions regarding these positions.