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The Kent County News: Franchot honors Reed, historical society

CHESTERTOWN — Women's History Month played a central role in Comptroller Peter Franchot's visit Monday to Chestertown, where, at separate stops, he recognized the work of former home health care provider Barbara Reed and viewed an exhibit at the Bordley History Story commemorating women architects in Maryland. Previously the owner and operator of Loving Touch Home Care LLC, Reed received the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award from Franchot at a ceremony held in the Gibson Center for the Arts at her alma mater Washington College. Attendees at the ceremony included the college's president Kurt Landgraf and other members of the administration; Mike Arentz, a representative from Congressman Andy Harris' office; Ryan Snow from Gov. Larry Hogan's office; Chestertown Councilman Marty Stetson; Dixon Valve and Coupling Inc. CEO Richard Goodall; Benchworks CEO Thad Bench; Kent County Economic Development Director Jamie Williams; and others, including Reed's family. Reed '98, who has since sold her business and is moving into the addiction treatment field, was nominated for the comptroller's award by Clay Mitchell. Mitchell spoke at the ceremony about the care Reed and her staff provided his mother as she was succumbing to a terminal illness and his father, who also had fallen very ill. "We needed someone who really knew what they were doing with care to help us and assist us with the process of death with my mother as well as caring for my father," Mitchell said. "When you say that someone delivers care, you know that they deliver health care. But it was more than that with Barbara. She delivered care and she cared about what she did." Mitchell said Reed's employees likewise reflected her philosophy of how to care for people. "The night my mother died, Barbara was there. And I cannot imagine going through the process of what that night was without her there," Mitchell said. "Our whole family thanks you, Barbara, for that." In presenting the award, Franchot, who served in the state legislature when Mitchell's father, R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. was the speaker of the House of Delegates, spoke about the importance of aging in place in health care. "You exemplify the principles of William Donald Schaefer had," Franchot told Reed. "I established this award to honor what he represented, which is whenever anyone approached him and asked for a dollar, he always pulled his wallet out, give them $5." Reed thanked her family and friends who were present, the Mitchells, the college and all her supporters. "Loving Touch was named Loving Touch because I wanted to stay humble to what it's like to enter someone else's house and respect their space, but know what I've been trained to assess. But you kind of have to do a dance, know when to lead and know when to follow — but always keeping it safe," Reed said. "This is just so special to me," she said of the award. Franchot said Reed saw the unique aging population and its needs for high quality in-home health care, starting Loving Touch in 2013. He said she not only provided care, but ensured it was top quality care at that. "Barb, your dedication to providing quality care to some of the most vulnerable people in your community demonstrates an awareness and compassion that is incredibly rare. Frankly, it's not that rare. Because most of us feel that, we just don't get good leadership, in my humble opinion. And I'm not talking about party or ideology. I'm talking about just humanity," Franchot told Reed. "So Kent County is lucky to have you as an advocate and a caretaker over the past five years. And you have set the precedent it takes to improve the lives of those around us." Landgraf said Reed is a "shining example" of what everyone at Washington College hopes alumni become. "She's made our Washington College family very, very proud and I want to thank you for that," Landgraf said. Franchot began his visit to Chestertown with a stop at the Bordley History Center. There he recognized the group for its decades of work and got to see an exhibit at the Bordley History Center celebrating the state's female architects. Historical Society First Vice President Barbara Jorgenson showed one display featuring a letter an architectural association wrote to one such woman, saying she should seek the "advice and judgment of her good father" before attending a meeting of the group in which she would be the only lady present. "We basically airbrush out women from our history," Franchot said, who later spoke about how his mother riveted windshields onto aircrafts at a Sikorsky factory in Connecticut during World War II. In recognizing the Historical Society, Franchot spoke about the important role it has has played in Kent County and the broader region. "This is in celebration of more than 80 years of collecting and preserving artifacts documents and information to aid in the interpretation of all aspects of Kent County history. Your efforts fostered a knowledge and understanding of the shared heritage within the community and started a restoration effort that led to the establishment of the Chestertown Historic District. With deep appreciation for your current exhibit featuring trailblazing women of architecture in Maryland, warmest wishes for continued success and many years ahead," Franchot read from the proclamation he presented to Historical Society President Steve Frohock. Board member Erik Gulbrandsen showed Franchot another project the Historical Society is preparing to launch, an online version of its walking tour guide for Chestertown. He said for decades, the tour guide has been available only in a printed trifold brochure. "Once we launch it publicly, you'll be able to go on your computer or your iPad and get all the information about the tour," he said. "Over time, we'll add different tours, different sites, different information as it becomes available." Jorgenson said the Historical Society is seeking a grant of about $23,000 from the Maryland Historic Trust to cover structure work on the Bordley center. Franchot instructed his staff to send a note to the grantors. Arentz brought greetings from Harris, "who would much prefer to be at this kind of event than be in D.C. voting as he is now." He said the congressman's office would likewise be happy to give a letter of support for the grant. "Kent County, and Chestertown in particular, is just a gem of Maryland and of the world. It's a unique place and I love coming here myself," said Arentz, who lives in Queen Anne's County. Snow brought greetings from the Hogan administration. "And these organizations are the cornerstone of an amazing community like Chestertown and we're thankful for everything you do (to) support tourism and economic development in the community," Snow told the Historical Society members.

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