Food Is Medicine: Microgreens and Wellness

Food Is Medicine: Microgreens and Wellness

The Green Anarchist, Annapolis, MD

The medicinal value of food is something that is greatly overlooked in our modern age of microwave meals and drive-throughs. Lavon Sajona and Michel Fretin believe that fresh, nutritious, and healthful foods should be easily accessible to everyone. They own The Green Anarchist, located in Annapolis Maryland. This minority female and veteran-owned urban farm specializes in growing farm-to-table microgreens.

Growing up in the south, Lavon learned from her grandmother at a young age the importance of growing her own food in the garden. Her grandmother taught her that food not only provides nutrients, it also heals ailments within the body. She had high blood pressure and diabetes and chose food over medicine to solve her problems. “She controlled it with food,” says Lavon.

Lavon’s partner, Michel Fretin, had a different source of inspiration. His sister passed from cancer, and he wanted to assist others in similar situations by providing them with wholesome foods to nourish their bodies. He realized the need for fresh, nutrient-rich produce that was easy to eat and incorporate into a healthy and balanced diet.

Michel, a former restauranteur, believes in the enjoyment of the food, as well as receiving many of the nutritious benefits it can deliver. These microgreens offer many interesting combinations for foodies and chefs alike. Michel and Lavon describe an apple and pear tart a la mode served with microgreens on top and flambeed. “There’s just so many great things you can do with them if you want, you can just let your creativity and imagination run wild,” says Michel.

Microgreens provide a way for people to get more nutrients than mature vegetable greens in a smaller amount of food, and they can be grown in many locations. When comparing the nutrient levels of microgreens to regular vegetables, Lavon says, “They are 40 times more nutrient dense than the mature best local counterparts. So, what I mean by that is, a broccoli microgreen is more nutritious in that state of growth than a full mature head of broccoli, which is incredible!”

These young vegetable greens only grow to their second set of leaves before they are harvested for use in all types of culinary fare as well as juices. Their aromatic flavor and concentrated nutrient content even come in a variety of colors and flavors. Due to their short growth period, they can be grown indoors in settings that enable them to be quickly distributed to the local community without needing to travel too far.

Michel and Lavon took the opportunity to bring more nutritious food to the local community by farming microgreens. As Michel sees it, “Our food supply chain is very antiquated, and food is planted so far away from cities. We wanted to be a catalyst to provide more nutrient dense food to the community.” The Green Anarchist uses only pure organic materials and no pesticides when growing their microgreens to eliminate impurities.

To back up their approach, current research has shown that antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of various types of cancer. The microgreens grown by Lavon and Michel are vegetables rich in polyphenol, an antioxidant considered by various research studies to lower the risk of cancer. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997428/)

We are grateful to Michel and Lavon for providing some of The Green Anarchist’s microgreens to Wellness House members to aid in their healing. These microgreens will be utilized to teach individuals diagnosed with cancer and their families about proper diet and nutrition along their journey.

Successful Cancer Treatment Isn’t Just Medical

Successful Cancer Treatment Isn’t Just Medical

Wellness House of Annapolis receives a much-needed contribution from one of its largest sponsors, Maryland Oncology Hematology – Annapolis, to help bolster their individual and group therapy support services for the community.

Wellness House of Annapolis welcomed MOHA on April 22, 2021 for a visit and a tour of the House.

[ANNAPOLIS, MD, May 4, 2021] — Wellness House of Annapolis (WHA) is excited to announce Maryland Oncology Hematology – Annapolis (MOH-A) as a new Top Sponsor for their dynamic psychological support services program. These vital counseling programs are free and have helped thousands of cancer patients, their families and caregivers in the Annapolis area navigate through the functional, emotional, and spiritual adjustments necessary to maintain their quality of life during their cancer journey. “Our patients have benefited from the holistic support of Wellness House for many years. As I walk the halls of this house, I feel the warmth of the family memories, supportive moments, and sense of well-being the Wellness House has offered so many of our patients. It is an honor to be able to financially support an organization that has been so welcoming to patients, especially during this difficult pandemic time,” says Dr. Carol Tweed, M.D. of MOH-A.

The local group of physicians at MOH – Annapolis cancer care center treat patients in a new state-of-the-art facility that provides infusion services, chemotherapy, biologics, and an on-site lab, all in one location. The doctors feel strongly about the support services at WHA and believe it indispensable to the holistic health and treatment of cancer patients in the community. “Relaxation techniques, meditation, massage, and therapy can help patients and families cope with symptoms from cancer and the treatments used to treat their cancer. We are very fortunate to have Wellness House of Annapolis right here to partner with us in their care.” – Dr. Jeanine L. Werner of MOH-A.

About Wellness House of Annapolis

WHA has been a beacon of hope for cancer patients and their families. For over 14 years, WHA has been providing free support, education, and counseling services to help individuals and families who have been touched by cancer recover their health and well-being in a nurturing home-like environment. WHA is a 501(c)3 that provides over 35 free programs and services to cancer patients and their loved ones from diagnosis to survivorship. These programs include yoga, meditation, reiki, seminars on progressive treatment options, counseling, support groups, and children’s programs. “Relief from physical, psychosocial, and spiritual problems can be achieved in over 90% of advanced cancer patients through palliative care” (World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer).

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Mary Jermann, Executive Director, at (410) 990-0941, or email mary@annapoliswellnesshouse.org.

Filling the Gap in Oncology Care

Filling the Gap in Oncology Care

“For nearly a decade, my patients have been part of the Wellness House family and community.”

Dr. Carol Tweed, Maryland Oncology Hematology

That is just one of the many reasons she is looking forward to formalizing the partnership between Maryland Oncology Hematology and the Wellness House of Annapolis.

“Quite frankly, as dedicated as we are to the patients,” Dr. Tweed says, “as oncologists we cannot fill these gaps due to being in a clinical setting. Instead, we are focused on medical discussions so often that we really can’t fill these non-medical gaps.”

Dr. Tweed started her journey in oncology, growing up in a household of scientists in a small community in West Virginia. Her town had a beloved, favorite oncologist, and many needing medical guidance related to cancer went to him. What inspired her most was his decision to return to his hometown to serve his community after he completed his medical and oncology education. She describes this as something very special and rare. After spending one day with this incredible man, she was inspired to pursue a medical career in oncology because she understood the impact she could have on people’s lives.

While in high school, Dr. Tweed’s own father was diagnosed with cancer, and she came to the realization that many of the doctors were not bringing enough resources to the table for his treatment. She describes another experience from her high school days, where she was motivated by an article written by a doctor who explained the process of something called apoptosis. This critical process involves the death of cells within an organism that occurs as part of its normal growth and development. He went on to explain that if someone could figure out how to kill cancer cells through natural apoptosis, they would be able to cure cancer.

The culmination of these events in her life ultimately led to her career as an active clinical researcher and principal investigator on numerous national and international clinical trials, and as an oncologist at Maryland Oncology Hematology. Because of her personal experiences, Dr. Tweed brings a unique perspective to her own patients. She understands the significance of the offerings of Wellness House as they complement her medical care. She fondly describes an experience with families who responded to her suggestion to contact Wellness House, where they received support and comfort and the much-needed counseling and respite care.

“The Wellness House offers all of the facets of support that oncologists and oncology clinics [don’t typically] offer a patient, no matter how dedicated or invested we are in their care. It offers a lot of the heart, counseling, advice, and input of other patients and family members who have been through this… as well as so many resources for patients’ family members that really help a patient feel supported as they go through this difficult process.”

Wellness House of Annapolis is not just a place, but also a concept that offers a broad and rather complex support system for individuals diagnosed with cancer. Whether it’s the physical programs, including yoga classes, healing touch and massage to name a few, or the individual and family counseling sessions, Wellness House is a safe space where patients and family members can rely on for years after cancer treatment.

Wellness House is enthusiastically looking forward to our new partnership with Maryland Oncology Hematology where we can continue to fill the gaps in services not being filled by medical facilities. These services are essential for the overall wellness of the individuals and families experiencing a cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Carol Tweed has been an oncologist for over 15 years and with Maryland Oncology Hematology since October of 2020. She attended Duke University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Biology, and a concentration in molecular biology. She received her medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and completed her Internal Medicine Residency and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

United Breast Cancer Foundation

United Breast Cancer Foundation

As anyone will tell you, finding the right partner can be a challenge. This is true both personally and professionally. It is rare when one comes along that fits like a glove, though, but that is what Wellness House has found with United Brest Cancer Foundation. 

Founded in 2000 and going national in 2005, United Breast Cancer Foundation serves women, men, and families across the country who have been affected by this horrible disease. Beth Reichart is Director of Operations for United Breast Cancer Foundation and has been with the organization for over 16 years.  

“United Breast Cancer Foundation offers a variety of family and patient programs, including our breast screening program, which allows us to provide early detection services to women and men. We also offer our individual grant program, child sponsorship program, and the Audrey B. Mastroianni college scholarship, to just name a few.”

UBCF offers programs for people who are currently managing breast cancer, as well as those in remission. “Let’s say somebody’s managing metastatic breast cancer and they have kids who are at home. We have our individual grant program and the child sponsorship program that they can apply to for support.  One of the great things about UBCF is we can assist our clients through more than one program at a time.” 

UBCF’s individual grant program offers support to people who are in need of certain financial assistance.  

“Things like housing assistance, utility bills, COBRA, medical insurance coverage, and treatment expenses. We also offer help with alternative therapies and holistic treatments through our holistic care program. We also help with breast reconstructive surgery.” 

Children are an important focus for UBCF, “Children living at home who are directly impacted by breast cancer can receive support through our child sponsorship program. We help with things like school supplies, healthy food, sports registrations, even medical, dental, and counseling services. If you need it, we have done it.”

UBCF’s care does not end at high school. Their college scholarship program helps students who have suffered a loss of a parent due to breast cancer. Many of these students have gone on to receive degrees in the medical field, and in turn pay it forward, back to UBCF, once they are in practice.  

So where does Wellness House of Annapolis fit into UBCFs plans? “Aside from sharing our incredible programs with Wellness House and their community, the opportunities are really endless.  We are very excited to explore partnering with Wellness House’s excellent holistic program.” 

Beth also saw the direct link and connection with Wellness House from the start. “It has been a really synchronistic and interesting relationship that has developed with Wellness House. I went to the house and met with an amazing group of intelligent and caring women. 

“We are two amazing organizations helping folks in need, the sky is the limit.”  

About UBCF 

UBCF is committed to offering breast health and wellness services focused on cancer prevention, screening, treatment and overall wellness. UBCF’s mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer and does so through seven life-supporting patient and family programs available to women, men and families nation-wide. UBCF never denies services to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, income or medical insurance coverage. Tax-deductible contributions may be made towards UBCF’s programs. UBCF accepts  Donor Advised Fund  contributions and  vehicle donations  as well. Combined Federal Campaign #77934.  https://www.ubcf.org  

Vanessa’s Army

Vanessa’s Army

Vanessa Gibson pictured above.

As you can imagine, being an assistant principal always brings challenges and Vanessa Gibson is up for the challenge. When she was diagnosed in February of 2021 with stage 3 breast cancer, she knew that now was not the time to back down. In fact, it never crossed her mind.

Vanessa always knew she was at risk for breast cancer. It was prevalent on both sides of her family. “I have a family history of breast cancer. My mom’s mom passed away from breast cancer. My father’s sister passed away from breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 38 and passed away at age 40, it was stage 4 by the time they found it. She never had a chance. As a result, I have always been an advocate for breast cancer awareness. I had my first mammogram at age 31. I always said, ‘This will not happen to me.’”

Vanessa’s reality quickly changed in December of 2020 when she noticed something strange about her body. The texture of her skin was the red flag that prompted her to call a medical professional. “I made an appointment in January to see my doctor. She agreed there were changes to my skin’s texture and set me up for a mammogram and an ultrasound.”

Vanessa went in on February 2nd for the scheduled procedures and had a biopsy performed.

It only took one day to receive the results. “I got the call on February 3rd with the diagnosis: stage 3 breast cancer, invasive ductal carcinoma. Two weeks later, I began treatment.”

Vanessa is now in the process of receiving 6 rounds of chemotherapy, followed by what she believes will become a double mastectomy, and after that, radiation. In preparation, she already took a leave of absence from her role as an assistant principal at the school.

That amount of chemotherapy is a lot for anyone to handle, but Vanessa Gibson is not just anyone, and she is not taking this diagnosis lying down. She is not feeling sorry for herself either. Vanessa is a natural born fighter and she’s ready to fight. If you talk to her about her diagnosis, she will tell you she has an entire team of people supporting her that includes family members, friends, students, and parents.

“I am not alone in this. I have an entire army fighting with me.”

Vanessa is a woman with a big personality, wonderful laugh, and an infectious smile. According to Vanessa, there is one thing that helps identify her and that is her hair, it’s big and curly. It is a huge part of who she is, her personality, and of her identity.

Of course, part of chemotherapy is losing one’s hair, and this was something that caused Vanessa to struggle, she felt losing her hair would mean losing a part of herself. As her hair began to fall out, she first cut it short, but clumps continued to fall out. Finally, she knew it had to go.

So, what did Vanessa do? She threw a party of course.

Vanessa decided to throw both a Facebook and Instagram live party simultaneously while broadcasting her head being shaved. A friend offered a barber, but Vanessa knew this would be more personal than that. She would not just give up her hair to anyone, she wanted to be in control of letting it go. Vanessa asked her mother and brother to do the honor of shaving her head.

Just after her diagnosis, Vanessa learned of Wellness House of Annapolis and its services. She immediately became a member. It was because of her appreciation of the unique offerings of the organization that she decided to use her Facebook Live event to raise money for Wellness House of Annapolis.

Wellness House of Annapolis is a nonprofit situated on 200 bucolic acres of Mas Que Farm where members come to experience true respite from the day-to-day challenges of living with a cancer diagnosis. All programs and services are offered for free to individuals diagnosed with cancer, their family, and caretakers. The organization raises funds to support its free offerings through fundraising, donations, and grants.

To Vanessa, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring awareness to breast cancer while supporting the mission of Wellness House of Annapolis. She said, “Wellness House is this great organization. So, when I decided to go live, I thought, ‘Why not have people donate to this amazing cause?’”

“To take an event that could be seen as a negative and turn it into something beautiful. I think in life there are moments that can be challenging, and the question is, do we search long enough to find that one thing that can make it beautiful?”

She put a donation up on her Facebook page for the event and set a modest goal of $200. Vanessa was sitting in chemo the day of her hair cutting event and had not even started the live stream yet when she realized the goal of $200 was met. Vanessa thought, “If I can raise $200, maybe I can raise $500,” and she raised the donation limit.

As she still sat in chemo, her target of $500 was hit. When the livestream began, she set the limit to $1,000. Boom. Friends and family began donating, matching each other, and cheering on Vanessa as her brother began shaving her head.

Then, it reached $2,000.

Then, $3,000.

Vanessa ended up raising a grand total of $4,275.00.

“It’s humbling to see the amount of love that was shown, and I know it’s going to a great cause. It also underscores the power of the internet, and the ability to get your message out.”

Vanessa is not done, nor does she think her challenge is harder than the challenges of others. “If this is my path, then so be it. I’m ready to walk this path.”

Wellness House of Annapolis cannot thank Vanessa, her friends, and her family enough for hosting this incredible live event and donating all the money raised. This organization cannot do what it does without support from individuals like Vanessa, her friends, and family. It is people like Vanessa Gibson that make Wellness House of Annapolis what it is, a true reprieve from the challenges of a cancer diagnosis for individuals, their families, and caretakers.

Vanessa Gibson is an assistant principal and certified make-up artist living in District Heights, MD. She sees the inner beauty in everyone and believes in building women’s self-worth so that their beauty translates from the inside to the outside. Check out her website at: www.vanessasroyaldesigns.com or Instagram at: @msvgibson.

Voices from the House – Why Volunteer?

Voices from the House – Why Volunteer?

The new year is a popular time to make resolutions or intentions. You may be looking for a new approach to being happier, healthier, more productive, or finding a way to show gratitude. I can offer from experience that volunteering is a satisfying resolution to explore.

Check out this article on how important volunteering can be to health and well-being. There seems to be a magical elixir which connects helping others to helping yourself.

On a personal level, my initial connection with Wellness House began with my husband, Paul’s diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2012. His treatment consisted of external radiation and was very successful. He’s doing great.

Then in 2013, my 10-year younger sister began an arduous 3.5 year battle with lung cancer. She lived in another state, and couldn’t take advantage of the services of Wellness House. During certain times of treatment, I became her caregiver. She was fiercely independent, so by her choice my stays were limited.

In 2015, I volunteered as a house hostess because I felt the need to absorb the strength and support of the House and hoped to find ideas for my sister to explore. I attended the Caregiver Support Group and met others in similar situations. Sadly, she passed away on June 20, 2016. My bond with Wellness House was set.

Volunteering means so much to me. Everyone is different and brings unique skills and interests to the table. The Wellness House has many needs and volunteers can find a satisfying place. For me, it has been organizing the book club, occasionally writing blogs, and working on research. When the time is right, I plan to return to being a house hostess.

Due to the challenges of Covid, all events are online and as we have seen, the excellent programs being offered are bringing members, volunteers, and staff together – face to face on Zoom. If you would like to volunteer in any way, please contact the Wellness House team at admin@annapoliswellnesshouse.org

Currently Recruiting for:
  • Administrative Support                                                                                                                                                          Data entry, scanning, electronic filing, follow-up phone calls… If you love supporting an administrative role, we have it all! Of course some of these tasks will need to wait until we can safely return to the house… but much can be done from afar. We would really appreciate someone or a couple of people  who are computer savvy and would like to help with scheduling, and various ongoing projects, which can be done from home with internet access and a computer. 
  • Prayer Chain Support                                                                                                                                                      Wellness House understands the need for connection and positivity. That type of support comes in many forms and we want to embrace them all! If you are interested in participating in a Wellness Prayer Chain (on either end of the chain) offering positive energy or receiving positive energy in a way that suits your spiritual practice.
  • Wellness House Well-Wisher                                                                                                                                      Sometimes you just need someone to talk to, someone to listen… and those people who are there for you are so important! We are looking for well-wishers to connect with members who need that kindness and compassion.
  • ZOOM Meeting Support                                                                                                                                                Recurring support starting meetings, and recording member attendance.

If you would like to help support any of these roles, please send us an email at admin@annapoliswellnesshouse.org (specifying what you are interested in helping with) and we will give you a call to discuss all of the details.                      We can’t wait to speak with you!

Voices from the House – The Power of Music

Voices from the House – The Power of Music

Terri Fevang - Program & Development Director

I’ve got a little secret…

On the outside, I am the Program and Development Director at Wellness House of Annapolis. I love designing and implementing programs that support the healing of the body, mind and spirit, and championing our mission to raise money so we can keep our resources free to those who need us. I am honored, lucky and blessed to be able to be here to help sustain and grow this amazing community resource.

But…

Inside, I am really a musician who constantly hears the music of the universe in my head. I am always interpreting the glorious sounds I hear in the hopes that I can bring this music to the world, and it will help people feel better.

I’ve been a musician pretty much my whole life…

My mother told me I started asking at the age of 3 to take piano lessons. My piano teacher wouldn’t let me start until I was 5. I studied until the age of 18. However, I always had my own ear, my own way of hearing the music, of interpreting it on the piano. I used to write flourishes to classical music I was learning, and my teacher would yell at me “You can’t improve Chopin”! It was never about improving. It was about what I was feeling as I was playing. I would hear other things in the music and my hands would just play it…lots of fun when you are playing your own music but not a great idea when you are preparing Mozart, Beethoven, or Chopin for a piano competition! Turns out judges like the music the way it was written.

Later in my life…

As I studied to become a therapeutic musician, I would realize why I always heard the music within the music. Music and sound are some of the most powerful healing tools on the planet. Our bodies are made up of constantly vibrating energy. The different frequencies of music and sound are interacting with the body on subconscious levels (your whole body hears, not just your ears). The power comes in recognizing what kinds of sounds resonate with you and listening with “intention”. Just like you are drawn to certain colors, or design, or books, or aspects of nature, music is a very personal thing. When you find your “thing”, you have found a part of your soul that, when tended to, can help you to balance your body, mind and spirit.

Try this…

Find a piece of music that you love, or even just like. Sit comfortably in a quiet place, play that music (preferably with headphones) and listen like you are a detective trying to establish all of the pieces of a puzzle. You might notice rhythm (what kind?) or a piano, or a string section, woodwinds, etc. Then focus in on what is really touching you and reaching deep inside to make you feel something. Identify the feeling, where it is in your body, and let yourself really feel it! Go with the feeling until it runs its course, and a feeling of peace washes over you. It may take a few tries to find the right music. That is okay! Because once you start listening with intention, you begin to relate to music, ALL music, as a friend, meeting you right where you are, and finding the places within you that need attention, kindness, love.

As we welcome a new year…

I invite you to walk towards music that makes you feel something. Embrace the call, the beauty, the pain, and allow the places deep inside you to be heard and healed. Cry, laugh, sing out loud! Singing is breathing, and breathing is life. You don’t have to sing on key to breathe! Just embrace the friends you will find in the music and feel better.

Once you begin this relationship with music, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

Wellness House Announces Generous Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz, in Honor of Cherie Loustaunau

With gratitude, Wellness House of Annapolis is pleased to announce a Memorial Donation from Michael Kurtz in memory of his wife, Cherie Loustaunau, and in honor of her commitment to the Anne Arundel Women Giving Together (AAWGT) and its mission.

In partnership with AAWGT, Michael Kurtz has awarded the $20,000 Cherie Loustaunau Memorial Donation to Wellness House of Annapolis to support our ongoing work in providing support, education, and services to help individuals and families who have been touched by cancer. A passionate and active member of AAWGT, Cherie was known for her love and support of nature and our environment, music, and our Annapolis community.

We are incredibly grateful for this gift making it possible for us to continue to serve our community free of charge, especially during these times.

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All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

All About Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Seminar

We had the honor of hosting Phebe Duff, certified MBSR instructor, who shared with our community an introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR is a person-centered educational approach which uses training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga as the core of a program to teach people how to take better care of themselves and live healthier and more adaptive lives.

We are excited to announce that MBSR will be offered to our community-at-large as an 8-week series starting on Thursday, February 18th – April 8th 2021!

Click here for more information.

See the 1-hour Facebook Live-streamed recording below, and experience this transformative practice today.

 

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Camp kicking off summer for children touched by cancer

Camp kicking off summer for children touched by cancer

Annual Camp Kicking Off Summer for
Children Touched by Cancer

This week Wellness House of Annapolis hosted its 8th Annual Paint Your Rainbow Summer Camp for over 30 children affected by cancer in their families, through a loved one with the disease. We were joined by wonderful – and generous – local businesses who gifted their time and resources for activities, including:

  • Therapeutic Song Writing with music therapist Sean Lane, Therapeutic Art with Artworks Studio, and Goat Yoga with Goat to be Zen Yoga
  • Exploring nature and critters with EcoAdventures, and reading stories with therapeutic dogs thanks to Caring Canines
  • Photography Scavenger Hunt with Wendy Preslan of NanaSue Photography, Irish Dancing with Junior LAOH Irish Dancers, and had Family Portraits thanks to Emily Schmitt Photography
  • Frozen treats thanks to Kona Ice, lunches thanks to Galway Bay, Papa John’s Pizza, Naval Bagels, Chick Fil A, Sam’s Club, and desserts thanks to Subway and Uncle Bob’s cookies

Campers learned mindfulness strategies, expressed themselves through art, and found new ways to resiliently cope with cancer in their families through music and friendship. They also identified strengths within themselves and others through photography. Thanks to generous community supporters, this was all at no cost to families at Wellness House of Annapolis.

For more on our camp, visit our Facebook page.