In Memoriam: Alicia Church

After a hard-fought battle with cancer, Alicia Church passed away surrounded by friends and family on May 31, 2023.

I'm not quite sure where exactly to start as I write these words about Alicia. Writing about someone who is no longer here brings about a myriad of emotions and feelings, and attempting to quell those emotions and channel them into words is a difficult task on any given day. There are some things in this life that just become common to us. A scar on our leg from a childhood fall from a bike; an enormous tree outside of our home that appears to have been around for centuries, the neighborhood grocery store parking lot where we practiced learning how to drive our parent's car after the store had closed for the day. 

Alicia has been that for many of us at the Collaboration Council. Her constant presence, her distinctive laugh, her inquisitiveness, her familiar face. 

Alicia joined our staff in 2006 and was known by not only our staff, but also by many who have worked with us over the years. Her face often would be the first one you would see upon entering our office space; her voice was the one answering the main line if you called us. You received her email reminders about meetings or reminders for the timely submission of proposals. Whether or not you knew her, she was familiar to you if you engaged with us. 

Over time, scars fade, and trees fall, but much like the two, Alicia left an indelible mark on the lives of her colleagues throughout the years at the Collaboration Council. 

There are a lot more things that could be said about Alicia, but I believe that none of those words are more paramount than that she will be truly missed. 

-Elijah Wheeler

Celebrating Pride Month in Montgomery County

We invite you to celebrate Pride by joining us for Tha' Block Party Pride & Arts Festival on Friday, June 30, from 3pm to 7pm at Wheaton Plaza.

This free event, presented by young artists in the Youth Arts and Entrepreneurship Program at MoCo ReConnect, will feature free food, games, and local spoken-word and visual artists. We invite you to join us in celebrating and supporting our LGBTQIA+ youth community.

While the event is free, registration is encouraged. Please RSVP and join us for a fun youth-led Pride celebration!


On June 1, the Montgomery County Council kicked off Pride Month by raising the Pride Flag outside the Executive Office Building on Veterans Memorial Plaza in Rockville. County leaders first raised the Pride flag in 2019.

The County also debuted a Ride On bus wrapped with the Pride flag and displaying the slogan #RideWithPride.  

Also on June 1, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore proclaimed June as LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in the state.

Montgomery County Public Library

Summer Reading Challenge!

June 17 - August 31

The MCPL Summer Reading Challenge offers kids and teens a chance to fill their summer with great books and fun activities. Every child who signs up gets a free book!

Learn More & Sign Up

THANK YOU to Bombas!

You have probably seen promotions by Bombas promising "One purchased = One donated." Now youth in Montgomery County are benefiting from this corporate commitment to giving back. We're excited to share that through a new partnership with Bombas, we recently received a very generous donation of 10,000 pairs of socks for MoCo ReConnect, our Drop-in Center for youth ages 16-24.

Bombas is a comfort-focused, basics apparel brand with a mission to help those in need. The company was originally founded in 2013 because socks are the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters. Underwear and t-shirts are #2 and #3 respectively. While the brand started with and is known for its extremely comfortable socks, Bombas used its expertise in comfort to launch into apparel with t-shirts in 2019 and most recently, underwear in 2021. For every item purchased, a specially-designed item is donated to the homeless community. To date, Bombas has donated more than 75 million items to those at-risk, in need, and experiencing homelessness.

Thank you to Main Street Connect for gathering and sorting toiletries for MoCo ReConnect as part of their Juneteenth Freedom Day service projects.

On June 14, MoCo ReConnect and our partners at the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) celebrated 15 GED graduates who received their diplomas.

The General Educational Development (GED) program at MoCo ReConnect goes beyond preparing students for the GED exam by integrating social justice and life-skill themes to develop students' knowledge base and cultivate empowerment through reflection and investigation of their larger social environment. We believe this method empowers youth as agents in their learning, as well as their lives and communities.

Staff Training Focuses on Cultivating Community-Led Solutions

On June 15, Collaboration Council staff gathered for a training facilitated by Victoria Benson, Principal and Founder of Justice Alchemy. The training centered around a community Engagement to Ownership (E2O) Spectrum that provides a roadmap for exploring how we can do more to cultivate community capacity to participate in and lead decision-making processes.

One of the goals of this training was to look at ways the Collaboration Council can move more of our work up the E2O Spectrum toward collaborative governance: building authentic partnerships that ensure the capacity of communities to co-define the problems affecting them and co-design solutions.

Benson has also served as the lead consultant for the Community Justice Academy (CJA) and Community Justice Fund, a transformative effort co-created by community-facing organizations and the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. The CJA is an example of collaborative governance in action, shifting power equitably between local government and frontline communities to advance real, just solutions that directly impact everyday people’s lives. The CJA aims to co-create an anti-racist, climate change-ready region where everyone has what they need to thrive, not just survive.

We wish you a safe & happy 4th!

July is National Parks and Recreation Month. This year's theme is "Where Community Grows."

Kick off the month at one of Montgomery County's Independence Day Celebrations: MId-County Sparkles on July 1 in Kensington and Germantown Glory on July 4. See below for details.

For more fun things to do outdoors in July, check out the events and programs from Montgomery Parks, or simply get out and enjoy a park near you!

Thank you for your continued support of children, youth and families in Montgomery County.
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