For their outstanding effort to preserve historic cemeteries, two Maryland residents and one organization have received the Periwinkle Award from the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, Inc., Maryland’s only non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the state’s old family and public cemeteries, historic churchyards, and Indian burial grounds.
The awards were presented on May 5, 2012 in Columbia, Maryland.
Justin Stein was nominated for the Periwinkle award by Leonard Becraft for his work in the Riggs Family Cemetery located on Bradley’s Choice of Montgomery County. Justin is a Boy Scout with the Brookville Troop 264 and attends Walter Johnston High School. Justin’s efforts to clean up the 250-year-old cemetery included clearing trees and brush that encroached on the burial site, removed years of debris that had accumulated on the grounds, filled in groundhog holes, and installed benches. Justin is continuing to oversee that the burial site is maintained.
The Friends of St. Vincent’s Cemetery
The Friends of St. Vincent’s Cemetery Baltimore was nominated by Melvin Mason for their work in restoring dignity to the St. Vincent’s Cemetery in Baltimore City. Accepting the award was Stephanie Town. Just a few years ago people visiting the site of St. Vincent’s Cemetery in Clifton Park saw nothing but overgrown vegetation and trash. There was no hint for the purpose of the land except a few piles of grave markers scattered throughout the property. Outraged family members found each other through Facebook and a group on Yahoo. A few articles appeared in the local newspaper about the group and the cemetery. Within the two+ years that the Friend’s group was first formed, members continue to meet on a regular basis, a database of close to 3,000 burials was compiled, members worked with the Catholic parish responsible for the site to have the years of vegetation and trash that had accumulated cleaned up and removed, they have held volunteer days in the cemetery, negotiated arrangements to have the lawn cut on a regular schedule, and have applied for and received a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit status by the IRS. Discussions continue for the creation of a permanent memorial for the site.
Donald Willey was nominated by Melvin Mason for his work to save the Anchor of Hope Cemetery on Hooper’s Island. Donald Willey has worked for a number of years to rescue the cemetery as it is gradually being consumed by the Chesapeake Bay. Don has recruited volunteers to assist in cleanups and he has requested, and received, assistance from the Department of Correction’s inmates from Salisbury in a huge cleanup of the overgrown vegetation in 2011. He has moved an unknown amount of concrete and boulders to create a barrier along the shore to slow the erosion of the soil. Don continues his work to protect this cemetery from the relentless waves lapping at its boundary.