Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bethesda community pitches in for Virginia Tech students

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Courtesy of Rebecca Kahlenberg
Members of the Bethesda moms group Mover Moms collect donated care packages for Virginia Tech students at the Westbard Giant in Bethesda on Thursday. Pictured from left are 5-year-old Amanda Kahlenberg and her mom, Rebecca Kahlenberg of Bethesda, Sharon Schick of Potomac, Suzanne Sunshine of Bethesda, Liz Miller of Bethesda, and Eileen Ackerman of Cabin John.
Thousands of Virginia Tech students are taking exams this week fueled by snacks, treats and notes telling them that people care, thanks to moms, school and scout groups and individuals from Bethesda and across the county.

Bethesda resident Rebecca Kahlenberg, founder of the moms group, MOVER MOMS, organized a drive to collect items for care packages to send to Virginia Tech students before their exams.

At the outset of the drive, she hoped to collect 1,000 care packages, but as news of the collection spread through e-mail, flyers and word of mouth, more than twice that number was collected.

‘‘It far exceeded our expectations,” Kahlenberg said. ‘‘I’m just so happy about that. It just shows how good people are.”

People from around the county pitched in volunteering to assemble packages, pack up boxes and man a collection point at the Westbard Giant last week.

‘‘It’s really heart-warming,” said Bethesda resident Amy Hancock while stationed at the collection point. ‘‘People are obviously very moved by the tragedy.”

The packages filled two cargo vans donated by Rockville-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car to deliver the packages.

A number of school groups, Brownie and Girl Scout troops and people just passing by the drop-off spot also donated items.

‘‘Everyone’s been working together,” said volunteer Karen Thibeau of Bethesda. ‘‘It’s amazing what you can get done.”

Fine Arts Festival comesto Bethesda this weekend

The streets of Woodmont Triangle will be turned into a veritable art gallery this weekend with the return of the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival.

The festival, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, features work by 140 artists from across the country, including Bethesda’s own Brendan Kager.

Painting, drawing, furniture, jewelry, photography, ceramics and mixed media will be on display and for sale.

In addition, there will be live entertainment and children’s activities.

The festival will be held along Norfolk and Auburn avenues in downtown Bethesda. It is produced by the Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and directed by Catriona Fraser, photographer and owner of the Fraser Gallery in Bethesda.

For more information, call 301-215-6660 or visit


Pi-Yu Kuo of Bethesda was honored by The Literacy Council of Montgomery County with an Outstanding Student Award, which recognizes students’ tremendous enthusiasm and dedication to learning.

The Literacy Council is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping adults in the county learn to speak, read, write and understand English.

Since Pi-Yu Kuo began working with Literacy Council tutors Michelle Hester and Margie Gustafson a little over a year ago, her main challenge has been to speak English clearly enough to be understood. Kuo has made great strides toward meeting this goal. She no longer asks her husband to make telephone calls and write e-mails for her, she volunteers at her children’s school and she communicates with other parents about her children’s activities. Kuo almost never misses a class, completes an impressive amount of homework, and has developed a keen interest in American history and customs.

For more information about the Literacy Council or to volunteer, call 301-610-0030 or visit

On campus ...

*Dan Hammer, son of Linda Sussman and Jeff Hammer of Chevy Chase, currently living in New Delhi, India, has been named a Watson Fellow for 2007. Hammer, a senior at Swarthmore College, is a 2002 graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is one of only 50 college seniors in the country to receive this honor.

A devout paddler: a kayaker, canoeist, dragonboater and an outrigger steersman, Hammer plans to use his fellowship to live among and learn from boat builders.

‘‘I’ve been paddling these boats for half my life, but I’ve never built a boat,” Hammer said in a statement. ‘‘I’ve never had the opportunity to build a boat. Boat building is not a skill that you just sort of pick up; there is too much back-story to the art, so that you need to learn from the people who know it best. I’ve always been on the periphery of the outrigger community, but I’ve never been fully immersed, since I am no boat builder. I intend to change that. [With this fellowship] I can live among and learn from the born-ready boat builders; then, I’ll truly be a part of the outrigger community.”

He will pursue his project, ‘‘Spreading the Gospel: Boatbuilding and Canoe Culture in the South Pacific,” in Palau, Tahiti, the Marshall Islands.

Hammer, an honors economics and math double major at Swarthmore, is a Lang Scholar and a program manager for RescueCorps, a nonprofit organization committed to expanding emergency medical care in developing communities abroad.

*Tracy Kwon of Bethesda, a history major at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., received a Fulbright Grant for research in South Korea for 2007.

The daughter of Aieun Yu and Oki Kwon, she is a 2003 graduate of Walt Whitman High School.

Kwon spent the summer of her junior year working with Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism and Nodutdol, a Korean American grassroots organization based in Queens, N.Y. Kwon will use her Fulbright Grant to study student activism and mass demonstration movements of past and present Korea.

This column is for you. Share your good news! Feel free to send press releases and news tips. Contact Stephanie Siegel via e-mail at, phone at 301-280-3006, fax at 301-670-7183, or snail mail at 1200 Quince Orchard Blvd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878.