Project Change hopes to further its mission

Youth organization forms first official Board of Directors

Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006

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Photo courtesy of Robyn Holstein-Glass⁄Project Change
New board members for Project Change are (front row, from left) James Ricciuti, Helene Rosenheim, Paula Kahla and Rafi Ansari; and (top row, from left) Charles Rahmat Woods, Kulley Bancroft, Stephanie Bryn and Robert Roth.

Project Change, an organization comprised of youths and adults whose mission is to find appropriate activities and issues for young people, recently appointed its first official Board of Directors.

The new board includes local business owners and community leaders, each of whom has been supportive of the youth safety and recreation organization since its founding in 1998.

New board members include Rafi Ansari, owner of Abbey Carpet N’ Things; Kulley Bancroft, vice president for Public and Community Relations at Sandy Spring Bank; Stephanie Bryn, captain in the U.S. Public Health Service; Paula Kahla, owner of Paula’s Boutique; James Ricciuti, owner of Ricciuti’s Restaurant; Helene Rosenheim, Olney community liaison to the Montgomery County Regional Services Center; Robert Roth, adolescent coordinator for Montgomery General Hospital’s Addictions and Mental Health Center; and Charles Rahmat Woods, jazz performer and owner of Rahmat Shabazz Publishing.

Adam Glass, a Sherwood High School senior, will serve as student board member, along with another student, who will be appointed this fall.

Board members serve a two-year term and are eligible for re-election for up to two additional consecutive terms.

‘‘We need guidance, we need you,” Project Change Executive Director Robyn Holstein-Glass said to the group at the first board meeting this summer.

Holstein-Glass and Project Change adult adviser Dorothy Kane recently completed the Standards for Excellence Clinic Series sponsored by the Maryland Association of Nonprofit organizations, where they learned the importance of having a governing body such as a Board of Directors to support and promote the organization’s mission.

‘‘We hope the board will guide us as we move forward toward our goal of establishing a teen center in Olney, while we continue to implement our successful bullying prevention program known as ‘You Have the Power!’ throughout the county and the state,” Holstein-Glass said.

When asked what prompted them to apply for Project Change board membership, group members unanimously expressed their desire to give back to the community.

‘‘It’s thrilling to see youth grow and mature,” said Stephanie Bryn, whose son Brandon was one of the three Sherwood High School students who founded the organization.

Bryn has remained active in the organization as an outgrowth of her career in public health and as a parent in the Olney community.

It was through Bryn that Robert Roth first heard of the group in 1998. An early supporter, Roth said he is pleased to be on the board and ‘‘to work with teens who are not on drugs.”

Bancroft’s children are grown now, but she recalled a time when youth congregated at her house. She prides herself on having provided a safe haven for them, but supports the need for a teen center in Olney.

Ansari, board treasurer, and Kahla plan to lend their business expertise to the group and perhaps mentor students interested in entering the business world.

‘‘The American dream is right here,” Kahla said.

Community activist Rosenheim has supported Project Change over the years and now, in addition to her many other activities, has made the commitment to serve on its board as its chair.

Woods has performed at Project Change functions and believes in its mission.

Ricciuti, who employs area teens in his restaurant, often hears young people complain about there being nothing to do in Olney. Ricciuti, board vice chair, recalled growing up in the tightly knit, planned community of old Greenbelt.

‘‘I plan to dive in so I can provide that type of community for my kids,” he said.

Audrey Partington is an adult leader of Project Change in Olney. Her daughter, Amanda, was an active participant when she was a student at Sherwood High School. For more information, visit the Project Change Web site at