Opioid crisis theme at Chesapeake Charities awards luncheon

Stevensville MD - Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford recognized the outstanding work being done to combat the heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis, including that of Bernie Fowler, Jr. at Chesapeake Charities’ packed awards luncheon last month at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.

Bernie Fowler, Jr., founder of Farming4Hunger in Charles County, was honored as Philanthropist of the Year. Fowler, who employs and trains recovering addicts and former inmates to grow food and feed the hungry, accepted the award and talked about how he was inspired to do something because of his painful experience with his daughter’s heroin addiction. “At Farming4Hunger we understand that hunger comes in many forms,” Fowler said, “We realized that we had to incorporate alcohol and drug addiction recovery into our programs.”

More than 190 people from the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties listened to stories of heartbreak and hope in the heroin and opioid epidemic. “This crisis is on everyone’s mind,” said Chesapeake Charities Executive Director Linda Kohler. “We thought it made sense to use our annual event as a kind of forum for the community to focus on solutions and share a message of encouragement and inspiration.” This was the 2nd annual Celebration of Charity event hosted by Chesapeake Charities.

The event program also included tributes to Samaritan House of Annapolis as Nonprofit of the Year and Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble as Volunteer of the year. Mike Goldfaden, Executive Director of Samaritan House, heads up the men’s 25-bed long term residential recovery program. Goldfaden said there is at least a 30-day waiting list to get into Samaritan House and that they plan to double the size of the facility in 2018.

Joe Gamble talked about the shock of learning that high school students he had once coached had become heroin addicts, the desperate parents who asked him for help and how he started the “Talbot Goes Purple” campaign with Talbot Rotary to raise awareness in the schools about the dangers of prescription opioids.

Keynote speaker Lisa Hillman told the story of her family’s experience with her son’s drug addiction and recovery. She advised families of addicts to tell someone about the problem and consider joining Al-Anon. Hillman pointed out critical areas for change: longer treatment times for addicts, more transitional housing to move addicts back into society, earlier education about addiction at the 5th, 6th and 7th grade levels.

Chesapeake Charities Board Chair Audrey Scott announced that Chesapeake Charities has established The First Responders Fund to support heroin and opioid emergency response efforts for local fire, police, emergency and medical personnel. Provisions will include equipment, supplies and training needed to protect first responders. For more information about the fund or to apply for funding, contact

A community foundation located in Stevensville, Maryland, Chesapeake Charities supports a wide range of charitable causes including arts, education, health and human services, animal welfare, and the environment. All of its 85 component funds have a common cause – a passion for making a difference in their communities. Chesapeake Charities serves organizations in eight counties: Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot. They have invested more than $9 million in the Chesapeake Bay region since 2005.

For more information, contact Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020 or, or visit Chesapeake Charities is accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.


Photo captions:
(1) Bernie Fowler, Jr. received the Philanthropist of the Year award from Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford (Photo credit: Executive Office of the Governor, Joe Andrucyk)

(2) The Fowler family at A Celebration of Charity awards luncheon, (L-R) Lora Fowler, Bernie Fowler, Jr., Rose Fowler, Betty Fowler, Bernie Fowler, Sr., Cody Fowler, Mona Monsma and Lauren Fowler. (Photo credit: Bob Gosselin Photography)

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