Green Spring Station


The “She Inspires” campaign, launched this spring at Green Spring Station, is helping to raise awareness and much-needed funding for some of the stores’ favorite causes and charities. Bridget Stickline, owner of Wee Chic, has long supported the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, and proposed them.

The mission statement of Baltimore Child Abuse Center, a non-profit subsidiary of LifeBridge Health, is to provide victims of child sexual abuse, trauma, and other Adverse Childhood Experiences in Baltimore and their non-offending caretakers with comprehensive forensic interviews, medical treatment, and mental health treatment with a goal of preventing future trauma.

“It is important for people to understand that child abuse impacts everyone, in all demographics. One in four girls and one in six boys experience sexual abuse, often by someone they already know,” says LaDonna Morgan, Director of Strategy and Operations at Baltimore Child Abuse Center.

Children who have suffered child abuse can be revictimized by the investigation into the abuse and the legal process that follows. The national Child Advocacy Model practiced by the Baltimore Child Abuse Center brings together everyone involved in an investigation to uncover what happened. They empower the child to tell their story in a safe setting and begin a pathway to healing. BCAC has a team of six therapists available to provide counseling to victims.

All programs at the BCAC are free. To support its programs, the Center receives $3.5 million in grants and $1 million from donors annually.

the Center’s success comes from its passionate staff and volunteers.

On maternity leave from her job in corporate finance, LaDonna Morgan thought about her next career move. She knew she wanted a job doing something that mattered, and found it at Baltimore Child Abuse Center. As part of the strategic operations she oversees, BCAC has added programs to address human trafficking, which often involves children, and inappropriate internet behavior, where children are groomed as potential sex abuse victims. They have a Healthy Boundaries program at schools and camps, to teach children how to recognize and make responsible adults aware of inappropriate behavior. BCAC was active in passing mandatory reporting of child abuse in the Maryland State legislature, and is now advocating for the removal of the statute of limitations on child abuse charges.

Mandee Heinl understands child abuse firsthand. Her father was abusive to her as a child. The authorities were contacted and came to Mandee’s home to investigate. But, she was interviewed with her father sitting next to her on the sofa, urging her to “tell the truth” that nothing had happened. Her mother was also present at the interview, but she was aware of the abuse and had allowed it to continue, so Mandee had no support from her either. Feeling unsafe, Mandee said everything was fine, and the investigation was closed. Finally, when she was in high school, she was able to move out of her home and live with friends and that gave her the opportunity to have a new life and break the cycle. Mandee’s hope for a brighter future came from a community that gave her the ability to see beyond the walls of her abusive childhood home. She is a strong believer in Baltimore Child Abuse Center’s policy of interviewing children in a safe environment away from offending caretakers, so that they can talk freely and fully about what is happening to them.

Mandee has been a volunteer at Baltimore Child Abuse Center for 3 years. She has fundraised for them – working on the capital campaign and their annual gala, “Be A Hero.”

The critical work that the Center does is particularly important right now. Sheltering in place to stop the spread of COVID -19 is causing tremendous emotional and financial stress in families, and putting vulnerable children and adults at greater risk. Teachers and school staff are often the ones who are the first to spot child abuse, and with schools closed, about 20% of child abuse cases are going unreported.

How can you help?

Call Child Protective Services if you suspect that a child is being abused. They will check out your suspicions.

The Baltimore Child Abuse Center can use your help. Donate to their programs if you can, or contribute to fundraising by serving on a planning committee. Spreading awareness is just as important as money. Volunteer to spread their message as an ambassador.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or aware that someone else is, The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) can give you advice on how to handle the situation safely.

Thank you, LaDonna and Mandee, for sharing your mission with us. You look fabulous on a pre-COVID-19-social-distancing afternoon at Green Spring Station!

Location: Green Spring Station

Styling: Mikey Monaghan and Jen Evans

Media: Style Magazine

Makeup: Owen O’Donnell

Hair: Uno the Salon

Photography: Illume Communications

Not once, but twice, Maru Fava has faced a diagnosis of cancer.

She looks fabulous, full of energy and has a healthy, vital, radiant glow to her. It’s hard to believe that five years ago (March 20th was her 5-year survivor date!), she was told that she had terminal liver cancer. After talking to her, you can see that not only has her body has returned to good health, she has also maintained the aura of peace, hope and spiritual growth that she found during her illness.

Maru’s journey with cancer began when her best friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Maru helped her friend through diagnosis and treatment, accompanying her to chemotherapy appointments at Johns Hopkin’s Hospital. The experience gave her an introduction to the world of oncology and education in treatment protocols.

When her friend successfully finished her course of chemotherapy, Maru and other girlfriends took her on a trip to celebrate her remission. But she cut her trip short by a day because she had a long-standing appointment back home to have a mammogram. Even though she did not suspect anything was wrong, she wanted to keep the appointment. It’s a good thing she did, because unbelievably, at the same time her friend went into remission, Maru found out she had breast cancer.

After successful treatment, Maru had developed a good relationship with her breast surgeon. So when she didn’t feel well and had pain in her ribcage, she called him, concerned. A trip to St. Joseph’s ER and a CT scan revealed bad news – two large masses in her liver. The original diagnosis was Cholangiocarcinoma , a highly fatal cancer of the bile duct. And then more bad news – because of her recent mastectomy and breast cancer diagnosis, she was not eligible for a liver transplant, her only good option for treatment.

As her prognosis went from bad to worse, Maru decided to defy the terminal cancer diagnosis, become her own advocate and explore ways to complement traditional advice and treatment. Her friend had missed rounds of chemotherapy because of low white blood cell counts, so Maru knew that she needed to help her mind and body be as healthy as possible. While researching ways to raise her white blood cell count, Maru found Mistletoe Therapy and the Believe Big organization.

Conventional + Complementary treatments fight together

Believe Big is a non-profit organization that bridges the gap between conventional and complementary treatments for cancer. Conventional treatment includes chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Complementary therapy includes nutrition, supplements, acupuncture, Mistletoe Therapy, and spiritual and mental wellness. The goal of complementary therapy is to lower chronic inflammation, to stimulate the body’s natural immune system, and to remove toxins and free radicals from the body, using diet and supplementation.

Believe Big encouraged Maru to get a second opinion, and her husband pressed her oncologist to have the pathology redone. Finally, some good news – she was rediagnosed with Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, EHE, a cancer that grows from the cells that make up the blood vessels and can occur in the liver. It is rare and not much is known about it, but it has a much better prognosis.

Along with traditional treatment, Maru decided to try mistletoe injections. Mistletoe Therapy, an intravenous therapy using European mistletoe extract, is thought to “stimulate bone marrow activity alongside conventional treatments to offset the side effects of chemotherapy/radiation such as nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite.” It is widely used in Germany and Switzerland, and now starting a Phase I clinical trial in the US at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Maru does not see Mistletoe Therapy as a cure for cancer, but rather as a tool to strengthen her body, stimulate her immune system, and build armies of white cells to help her fight.

conquering the fear that paralyzes

Believe Big’s other mission is to provide spiritual guidance to patients and their families. They are not about promising a cure, but rather about supporting patients wherever they are in the moment and giving them hope and peace. On their website, Believe Big shares a prayer, “I Will Have No Fear” to combat the paralyzing “fear that keeps the body from switching to a rest and repair mode.”

The Believe Big community gave Maru hope and support when she needed it. Exercise, family support, faith, good doctors and a healthy diet are also important to her. Her best advice is to find great doctors, listen to your body when you know something is wrong, and be your own tireless advocate.

speaking out for believe big

To pay it forward, she has become a spokesperson for Believe Big. If you know someone who needs support, there are resources and recommendations on Believe Big’s website.

Vanessa Fava, Maru’s sister-in-law, is the owner of Panache, a boutique for women at Green Spring Station. They were photographed together at the fashion photo shoot (before COVID-19 social distancing) for Green Spring Station’s spring “She Inspires” campaign. Panache is offering a 20% discount, with the code Sheltersale for shoppers on their website while the store is closed to in-person shoppers.

This is the second in a series of “She Inspires” articles featuring inspiring women and the non-profits they support. The first was about Shawn Nocher, Kelly Gill and Love in the Trenches, their organization that supports the parents of children suffering from addiction.

Styling: Mikey Monaghan and Jen Evans

Media: Style Magazine

Makeup: Owen O’Donnell

Hair: Uno the Salon

Photography: Illume Communications

Shawn Nocher and Kelly Gill met each other 30 years ago, as mothers of young children with their whole lives ahead of them. They couldn’t have known then that years later, their bond would become “mothers of addicted children” and that they would form an organization, Love in the Trenches, to help other parents whose children are suffering from the disease of addiction, either in active addiction or in recovery, or who have died from drug use.

For several years, Shawn and Kelly were each other’s lifeline as their sons moved through addiction and recovery at different times. Kelly’s son was in recovery, while Shawn’s son was somewhere out west, actively using. In one of the ironic, unpredictable twists of addiction, at the same time that Shawn’s son moved into a recovery phase that he has maintained, Kelly’s son relapsed and tragically died of an overdose.

Their stories are only partly about their sons. Loving children who suffer from the disease of addiction also affects the entire dynamic of the family. Parents are often not in the same place emotionally and can’t agree on the next steps. The siblings are often angry and confused and feel isolated when all the family’s energy is focused on one child. Families crumble under the weight of addiction. They isolate themselves from extended family and friends and the family keeps secrets.

Love in the trenches

Aware that other parents were trying to connect with each other for information and help, Shawn and Kelly joined forces and created Love in the Trenches as a supportive community for parents. Love in the Trenches helps parents erase the shame of addiction. Many parents come into the LITT community feeling like a parenting failure on their part is the reason their child is suffering – some wrong turn or wrong decision made the problem worse. Through LITT, they come to accept that they did not cause it, cannot control it, and they can love their child and hate the addict.

Drug abuse is a complex set of behaviors. It’s impossible to predict who will suffer from this disease. A group of teens can grow up together, in similar environments, experimenting with the same risky behaviors – 70% of high school seniors drink alcohol, 50% have tried illegal drugs. Most young people who experiment with drugs and alcohol will mature, begin to make good decisions, and become successful functioning adults, but a few will go on to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The desire for drugs takes over the addicted brain and rational thought processes are compromised. An addict eventually comes to believe—however irrational it might seem to us—that the drugs are keeping them alive, and they can no longer control their moods or the things they do to maintain a high. Friendships and family relationships fall by the wayside, and a normal life becomes impossible. Parents and families have to find their own way to love their child, to be supportive when it is appropriate, but to protect themselves. It takes a community of support like Love in the Trenches to be able to do that. Kelly and Shawn are quick to point out that they don’t have a magic panacea for addiction, but they do know that addiction flourishes in isolation. With support, parents learn to “put on their own oxygen masks first in order to support their child in the best possible way.”

Change a step in the dance, change the dance

LITT runs a bi-monthly speaker series featuring various authorities in the field of addiction, as well as training in the administration of Naloxone to reverse overdose. LITT also supports like-minded programs that work to assist families in recovery and help in their mission to erase the shame of addiction.

Normally, Love in the Trenches holds in-person Support Group and Grief Group Meetings using their experience to offer coping skills, networking opportunities, recovery resources, and active support. However, during this time of social distancing, the groups are meeting on Zoom. Their website, www.loveinthetrenches.org, has information on meetings and lots of resources for parents. Shawn and Kelly are available to talk to you at info@loveinthetrenches.org.

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