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UpCounty Center celebrates 20 years
 helping people be successful

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(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 year.

“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 success.

“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 www.emmitsburg.net/ucc/index.htm.

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