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Stretching $1M Around the Globe

St. Margaret’s Church funds hopes and dreams

Over the last 20 years, the congregation of St. Margaret’s Church in Annapolis has donated $2.3 million to help local causes but also to provide clean drinking water, medical care, educational opportunities and more to people all around the world.
      Amigos in the mountains of the Dominican Republic will soon see doctors and dentists thanks to a $10,000 grant to Somos Amigos Medical Mission from St. Margaret’s Church on the Broadneck peninsula.
     “One of our priorities is to restore to health the ill and heal the broken, without restriction to where it goes,” says Izzy Winn, grant coordinator at the church.
Those thousands are a small piece of a $95,000 pie served up to nonprofit agencies, organizations and communities by the Episcopalian congregation, one of the 30 original Anglican parishes in colonial Maryland.
     From Anne Arundel County to Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, St. Margaret’s has given away $2.3 million over the last 20 years in the form of nearly 300 grants. Given with great care and caution, the millions have helped fund hopes and dreams both near and far. Each charity that reaches the finals of the annual St. Margaret’s grant program has a volunteer liaison who visits and researches the group.
    Closer to home, Maryland’s Mission of Mercy got $7,500 to support a new mobile dental clinic and expanded free dental program. In Baltimore, $17,000 went to Acts 4 Youth, allowing expansion of a whole-child mentoring program to an additional school, serving 100 to 200 at-risk youths.
     “This program just blew us away,” says Winn. “The liaison for Acts 4 Youth, who works at Towson University, cannot stop talking about what an impact this group made on him. They are only 10 minutes from his office, and his world has changed because of discovering this program.” 
     Benefitting from other local and regional grants are Annapolis charities: Seeds 4 Success, $10,000 to launch the Eastport Boys Club, following the very successful Eastport Girls Club; Box of Rain, $6,000 to cover the cost of a year-long high school Charting Careers program for 12 students; Immigration Justice Network, $2,000 to for legal referrals.
     Anne Arundel County: Sarah’s House, $4,100 to for new kitchen appliances.
     Baltimore: Intersection of Change, $10,000 for Strength to Love II Farm in the Sandtown-Winchester and Upton communities employing and training ex-convicts as well as supplying locally grown produce in an urban food desert.
      Chesapeake Country ARC Central Chesapeake Region, $4,300 for parent support group and Sibshops program for siblings of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 
     The grant committee strives to send equal amounts of awards to groups working abroad. The 2018 awards also include $5,000 to Muhabura Integrated Polytechnic College of the Shiyira Diocese of the Anglican Church (Rwanda) for the new water filtration system on campus. The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Outreach Ministry gets $5,100 to build a playground at St. Marc’s Episcopal School, Jeannette, Haiti. In Leogane Haiti, $6,000 goes to Middleham and St. Peter’s Parish of the Diocese of Maryland (Episcopal) to help fund a school nurse, a model project administered by the Episcopal University Nursing School. In Honduras, $8,000 helps Siempre Unidos with food support supplementing medical care for 25 impoverished HIV positive patients. 
      All this is thanks to Edwin and Zoe Hall, who led a quiet life, drove a simple car and loved St. Margaret’s Church. When they passed away, they instructed that $1 million be bequeathed to their parish, much to the surprise of all.
     “The rector and the lay leaders of the church at the time showed great wisdom,” says the current rector, the Rev. Peter Mayer. “They decided to wait and contemplate what to do with all that money. And this was at a time when the church wasn’t doing great financially.”
      By the time the church decided to give the funds away, the sum had doubled to $2 million.
      Mayer, who has been with the church since 2010, praised the decision 20 years ago to put the endowment gift into a grant program.
     “The funds are so much more than a transaction,” says Mayer. “It is a transformation. We are changing lives. I think it says something about a church that is often seen as a small country parish, that we have such a global reach. We truly look beyond ourselves to the wider world.”