(1/17) Crystal Springer of Emmitsburg was
a young girl with a baby on the way when she first came to UpCounty Center for
help. She earned her high school diploma through the center’s flex evening high
school in 2002. She continued to come to the center after her son was born. He
was able to socialize and learn in the child-care center while she took
parenting classes or classes to improve her job skills. In 2006, Springer took
a job with UpCounty as a child development assistant and last year she
purchased a new care and home.
Crystal Springer encourages Carson Murdorf,
15 months old, to beat on a drum as Carson's mohter Jackie holds him in the
UpCounty Center Child Care Center.
“I probably wouldn’t be very far without
UpCounty,” Springer said. “I’d probably still be a home with my kids, not
working, not being able to afford daycare.”
The UpCounty Center in Emmitsburg had 250
participants in its programs last year and saw 128 families. Thirteen students
graduated either from the flex high school or GED programs at the center last
“We’re a small center with small staff and
small budget but with great outcomes,” said UpCounty Director Liza Frye.
This year, UpCounty celebrates 20 years of
serving at-risk residents in northern Frederick County. The center began in
1988 in the Seton Center with a mission to serve primarily teen parents. Over
the years, that mission has expanded to include just about anyone needing help.
The center also has its own building next to the Emmitsburg town pool.
Even though it has been working in the
area 20 years, Frye said, “There seems to be a disconnect between the community
and their understanding of what we do.”
Actually, it’s more like what don’t they do. The center offers on-site
childcare for parents using the center’s services, in-home services,
recreational activities, social activities, field trips, developmental
screening for children, parenting programs, guest speakers from other agencies,
health education, budgeting classes, food distribution, on-site meals, flexible
high school, adult education classes, GED classes, computer courses, job
training, job search help, support classes and more.
“And it’s all free,” Frye said.
However, UpCounty Center is facing
challenges in order to continue. Frye told the Thurmont town commissioners
during a recent meeting that the center’s sponsor, Catholic Charities, has
notified the center that it will need to find a new sponsor. Though no firm
date has been given, Catholic Charities will stop its support of the center.
Frye has been out in the community
searching for a new sponsor or sponsors by talking to businesses, agencies and
governments because she believes in UpCounty’s mission and has seen its
“One of the reasons that we are so
valuable here is that many of the services we provide aren’t available anywhere
else in the region,” Frye said.
For more information about the UpCounty
Center, visit their web site at
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