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Calvert Recorder: LEAP Forward organization presented prestigious award from comptroller

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) visited the Harriet Elizabeth Brown Community Center on Wednesday to present nonprofit organization LEAP Forward with the prestigious William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award.

Unofficially organized in 1998, Launching Educational Assistance Programs Forward is an organization that works to provide educational and financial assistance to economically disadvantaged youth. Rhonda Thomas, founder of the organization, was present at the community center to accept the award on behalf of the organization.

School board member Pamela Cousins served as master of ceremonies during the program. She referred to Thomas as a Renaissance woman and noted how many she has helped in Calvert County.

“We’re here to honor Rhonda but there are a lot of other people that I think Rhonda represents in our society right now. Rhonda has had a positive impact upon countless lives in Calvert County and the ripple effect can be felt across the state and region. You, Rhonda, are an inspiration for all of us," Franchot said.

Doris Cammack-Spencer, co-founder of Concerned Black Women of Calvert County, said she was thrilled to participate in honoring Thomas with the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award.

“The devotion and commitment to our youth from elementary to college is demonstrated in numerous services and programs Rhonda offers. I often say to her I don’t know when she sleeps. Rhonda founded LEAP Forward and truly she leaps,” Cammack-Spencer said, indicating the organization focuses on the skills needed to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Some of the programs and services offered by LEAP Forward are family-sponsored scholarships, college tours, internships and academic enrichment programs.

Thomas thanked everyone for coming to the program and credited the organization’s success to her strong support system.

“I’m just grateful and I thank God for the opportunity to serve. If you want to do something for us, then pray for us that we get the resources we need to keep doing what we’re doing and pray for our youth that they will take advantage of every opportunity that we present to them,” Thomas said.

After presenting the award, Franchot said he is happy to hire student interns from the LEAP Forward program and subsequently offer them jobs when they finish college.

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