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Emmitsburg may be looking
 to expand its family

Elizabeth M. Piazza
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(3/20) During a recent visit to Emmitsburg, City of Frederick Alderman Alan Imhoff met with the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners to offer a basic introduction about the Frederick Sister Cities Association.

Invited by Joyce A. Rosensteel, treasurer of the board, Imhoff spoke at length about Frederick City’s involvement in an international non-profit network known as Sister Cities International. Frederick City currently has three sister cities, Schifferstadt and Moerzheim, Germany and Aquiraz, Brazil, which was added in 2006.

Sister Cities International, headquartered in D.C., helps partner communities in the U.S. with similar communities around the world. The organization strives to promote peace and strengthen partnerships between communities. According to the mission statement, Sister Cities International “promotes sustainable development, youth involvement, cultural understanding and humanitarian assistance.”

Town commissioners and the mayor remain interested in the program but agree that more information is needed before committing.

“Conceptually, it’s a great outreach program and cultural learning opportunity,” said Mayor Jim Hoover. He remains concerned that it could be a cost burden for Emmitsburg and recognizes that he needs to learn more about the benefits for the town before moving forward.

“I don’t want to just hang a sign and have it be only a conceptual program. How do we truly get the cultural advantages and experiences in an affordable way?” Hoover said.

“The municipality is the overseer of the program but not involved on a financial level,” Imhoff said. A group of volunteers would raise funds to support the program.

Chris Staiger, president of the board, is supportive of finding a “match” for Emmitsburg, although he has concerns over who would manage the program.

“I would want to truly focus on it and find volunteers willing to take ownership in order to give it the support and attention it would need,” Staiger said.

“The great thing about the program is that each partnership sets up the program how they want to set it up, whether it is based on cultural, economic and humanitarian exchanges,” Imhoff said. “It is up to each city to decide that.”

In 2007, the city of Frederick celebrated the 25th anniversary of its partnership with Schifferstadt, Germany. The partnership focuses on historical and cultural aspects of the two cities. Frederick City was founded 250 years ago by immigrants from an area near Schifferstadt. The partnership with Aquiraz has more of an economic and humanitarian base. Recently an ambulance was donated to the program and volunteers are in the process of shipping it to Aquiraz, Imhoff said.

There are cultural exchanges as well. The Frederick-Aquiraz partnership recently kicked off a Youth Ambassador Program at the annual Frederick Chocolate Gala, a fundraising event for the sister city program. The gala raised approximately $15,000.

Affiliations between communities in the United States and international communities began shortly after WWII and in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed a people-to-people program. Sister Cities International grew from this initiative and became a separate, non-profit corporation in 1967. The program represents more than 2,500 communities in 134 countries around the world. For more information about Sister Cities International, visit www.sister-cities.org.

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