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Power of Community

by Staci Mildenstein

Power of Community

This year, I decided I wanted to hold a Toy Drive with all donations going to local Charles County children that may not have much or a Christmas at all.  Because of my relationship and involvement with the local soup kitchen, Our Place Waldorf, I reached out Deanna Gerhart and told her of my idea and I asked her if I could surprise the children that attend the dinners on Thursday nights at Good Shepherd Church for Christmas, she happily agreed.   And the story began ….

In my vision, I saw “Santa” walking into the church with a big bag of toys while watching the eyes of the children light up.   I then asked around to see if anyone had a Santa suit that we could borrow and Deanna said she not only had one but that another wonderful supporter of Our Place Waldorf, Mike agreed to be Santa.  

I then reached out to my broker, Don DeHanas and asked if he would allow me to place a toy donation box at our real estate office in Waldorf, again he happily agreed.   He also said that I could print as many signs as needed using the office printer.   That alone is a HUGE donation and saved me a lot of money.

My next step was to find large sturdy boxes to transform into Toy Drive donation boxes.    I reached out to Matt McKendree, the owner of McKendree Moving & Storage to see if he would donate 4-6 boxes for the event.   The answer I received was not only a yes to the boxes (and as many as I need) but also an offer to be another Toy Drive drop off location.  Joan at his office was amazingly helpful and happy to be a part of this event. 

I then contacted my wonderful, supportive, very pregnant daughter-in-law Liz Mildenstein who not only gives her time whenever asked but is also a very talented designer of print materials if she would help design the signs, again another yes.   She also volunteered to place a Toy Drive donation box at her office, AVIAN, LLC in Lexington Park and did.

The neighborhood I live in, Greenmont which is Waldorf is filled with very giving, generous families that consistently support Our Place Waldorf making food donations to our home so that we can take it to Our Place Waldorf on Thursday nights.   I created flyers and took them house to house asking for their support by making toy donations to us at our home and as expected, they were very generous.   We even had neighbors, Mike & Melody Coates that we never met before bring bags and bags of toys then showed up the following week with a lot of food and a commitment to start bringing monthly food donations.  Power of Community! 

Since I was getting so much positive support, I decided to contact Sid Rahai, the owner of Avant Garde Carpet One Floor & Home located in Waldorf to see if he would mind being another drop off location and again, it was a YES!  Sid is a wonderful, caring man that we have had the pleasure of knowing for many years!

Once the signs were finalized, I reached out to a few local printers to see if anyone was willing to donate a very large sign to place in the front glass of our office at DeHanas Real Estate Services.   I quickly received a response from Cindy, the owner of Waldorf Signs and she said she would be happy to make and donate the sign.   She had it ready in just a matter of days and I could not have been more thankful!   She and her husband were so gracious!

Things just kept falling into place.   Although I had established 5 great Toy Drive drop off locations, I still had the nagging worry that I would not collect enough toys for each child at Good Shepherd Methodist Church.   Once again, I asked Deanna Gerhart along with many others if they could think of another local business that may be willing to be a drop off location.  Deanna told me I should contact Eric Kriemelmeyer, the owner of FASTSIGNS of Waldorf, as he has been a huge supporter of Our Place Waldorf.  I sent him an email asking if he would mind me putting up a Toy Drive box at his store which is right on Rt. 301 in Waldorf.   The response I received was shocking.   He not only happily agreed but offered to print yard signs for each of my drop off locations, put the sign up on his LED marque which faces Rt. 301 and to extend an offer of 10% off all printing for each of my sponsors.   I was and still am overwhelmed by his generosity.  

About two weeks before the deadline of December 15th, my broker Don DeHanas held a holiday party and when guests asked what they could bring, he said “a toy”.  Well, apparently Don knows a lot of people because the following Monday, he and his partner David Strickland brought a truckload of toys for the Toy Drive, all donations of his party guests.   I was overwhelmed and honestly, still am.

The last but not least drop off location came to me because of my wonderful friend and co-worker David Strickland.  He works part time for Rucci’s Deli in White Plains and he said the manager, JoAnne offered to be yet another Toy Drive location.   Again, I was so touched and saw the Power of Coummunity.   

As it got closer to the event and after doing an unofficial count of toys, it seemed like we were lowest on gifts for teenagers.  I was just about to start panicking when Deanna Gerhart called me to say that one of the Our Place board members, Cyndi Modlyn has been collecting toys and gift cards for the event she should have nearly 50 toys and $500 in gift cards that would more than cover all the teenagers.  She is came in and saved the day! 

There have also been toys coming in from people who simply heard about it and sent toys with my wonderful gift wrapping helpers, Deanna Gerhart, Alyssa Gerhart, Linda Heimpel and Carla Dothard.  

There are so many other people that helped with picking up the Toy Drive donation boxes, such as my wonderful son, Justin Lambert and my very supportive husband, Mike Mildenstein as well as help with last minute details, including Liz Benitez and David Strickland again! 

In order to pull this off, I reached out to about 10 co-workers and family members asking them to be “Elves” on December 17th.   The Elves will include my giving, patient son, Justin Lambert, husband Mike Mildenstein, stepson Chad Mildenstein, daughter-in-law Liz Mildenstein, friends and co-workers, Donnie Wilburn, Melissa Banchs, Don DeHanas, David Strickland and of course, the wonderful Mike M. as Santa!

I think it’s safe to say, I have received over 250 new, unwrapped toys and about $600 in gift cards.   This idea, which is all it was has shown me not only what can be accomplished with a little work and a lot of help but mostly, the true meaning of Christmas.  The outpouring of support, offers, donations and kindness has been an amazing, eye opening experience.   I am forever grateful to everyone, there is just no way that I could express that in words.  If anyone says there is no such thing as Santa, they have not looked inside themselves.  This community has proven he is real in all of us!  



I’m very grateful to the following for their help and to so many others that I don’t have names for but made such a difference to the families of Our Place Waldorf this year!!!  My family, Justin Lambert (son), Mike Mildenstein (husband) and Liz Mildenstein (daughter-in-law)

DeHanas Real Estate Services

McKendree Moving & Storage

Waldorf Signs

Avant Garde

FASTSIGNS of Waldorf

Avian, LLC

Rucci’s Deli 

And my wonderful neighbors in Greenmont




MGM National Harbor - Coming Soon!

by Don DeHanas, Broker

MGM Resorts is building a world-class Destination Resort Casino at National Harbor, creating thousands of new, local jobs, and providing enormous economic benefits to the region.  Many are excited to see the construction process underway at National Harbor as the spines of iron-work are put into place for the new MGM Casino and Resort.  This project is sure to contribute plenty to the local economy, not just in the way of employment, but helping to turn the local housing market around and push it in a upward ly mobile direction.

Investors are already scouting out potential income producing rental properties.  In fact, we are already seeing contractors coming into town requesting two year leases, soon to be followed by the management teams and hundreds upon hundreds of employees seeking housing. Although we are still more than a year away from opening, it is not too soon to be grabbing up properties in Fort Washington, Accokeek, Oxon Hill, Bryans Road and Indian Head, and all areas along the RT 210 corridor. 

And the residents living in the region are in for a treat, as this casino & hotel is not just a casino & hotel.  There will be world class restaurants, shopping, entertainment and a spa. MGM is dedicated to offering a "complete and unique MGM National Harbor Experience" as experienced in their other resorts around the world. 


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Fourth of July Fireworks in Southern Maryland

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Calvert County:



Chesapeake Beach Fireworks - Wednesday, July 3 @ Dusk, Chesapeake Beach Waterfront

Fireworks Cruise Aboard the Wm. B. Tennison - Thursday, July 4 @ 8 p.m. until... Calvert Marine Museum 14200 Solomons Island Road South, Solomons

Solomons - Riverwalk, Solomons, Maryland. The waterfront community hosts an afternoon street fair and fireworks. Street Fair begins at 3 p.m. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

Solomons Fireworks - Thursday, July 4 @ 9 p.m. Solomons Island-wide

The Solomons Business Associations proudly sponsors the annual Solomons Independence Day fireworks display, to be held on Thursday, July 4th at approximately 9:15 - 9:30 pm (after dusk). Fireworks will be shot from a barge in the Patuxent River and can be viewed from the Riverwalk. Celebrate our nation's birth, and show your colors all day long! The Fireworks will be preceded by activities throughout Solomons, sponsored by individuals and businesses.

- Stop by the tent at the Chesapeake Biological Lab campus for an afternoon of family activities - hands-on science, fishing games, nature crafts and more!

Rain date: Friday, July 5th. All efforts are made for the display to be held July 4th. If weather factors force a last-minute delay or postponement in order to maintain the safety of the crew and spectators, the fireworks will take place on Friday, July 5th.

Traffic: Vehicular traffic on the island will be restricted. Please park in designated areas only. Parking is available at Glascock Field across from the Calvert Marine Museum, at the museum, in the public lots behind Our Lady Star of the Sea and the Solomons Medical Center. Parking at Glascock Field is $10; proceeds support the fireworks fund and SYB Optomists. The public is asked to respect private property.



St. Mary’s County:



Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department - Saturday, June 29
24801 Three Notch Road, Hollywood
On Route 235 just north of the Leonardtown-Hollywood Rd (Rt 245) intersection

Independence Day celebration featuring entertainment provided by R&R Train.  Carnival rides and games starting at 5pm, food available for purchase. Fireworks begin at dusk. Parking is $5, no coolers or pets allowed.  301-373-2900. Hollywood VFD Web site:

St. Mary’s College River Concert Series - Friday, July 5
Near the Townhouse Green Residences
College Drive, St. Mary's City

A Star Spangled Night with a Musical Tribute to the Sea featuring vocalist Jennifer Page.  Enjoy fireworks to the patriotic music of John Phillip Sousa. River Concert Series Web site:

Dennis Point Marina - Saturday, July 6
46555 Dennis Point Way, Drayden, MD

The return of Fireworks to Dennis Point has been a great success and we look forward to doing it again for the 2013 season. This year the fireworks will be held at Dennis Point Saturday, July 6th. Make your reservations early, we expect large crowds this year. There will be events all day starting with the annual golf cart parade. Rick's Riverside Restaurant will be open all day. Rick has special plans which include restaurant specials, outside deck specials, vendors serving a variety of dishes along the waterfront and activities all day. Come early and enjoy Independence Day at Dennis Point. Thank you for being a part of the new Dennis Point Marina & Campground.



Charles County:



Town of Indian Head 4th of July Celebration & Fireworks - Thursday, July 4
The Village Green and Pavilion
100 Walter Thomas Road, Indian Head

The Day kicks off with a Patriotic Opening Ceremony at 3:30pm; there will be amusements, live entertainment--with Rockin Roger DJ, and food available for sale. No pets of any kind or alcoholic beverages permitted. No flea market on Sat., July 6th.
Free admission.  For more information call 240-375-4061 Visit the Town of Indian Head Web site:

Celebrate Charles - A Fun Filled Fourth - Thursday, July 4 @ 4:30 - 9:30 pm
Regency Furniture Stadium
11765 St. Linus Dr., Waldorf

The general public is invited to attend this family-friendly event.  Local businesses, artisans and food establishments will be showcased in the "Best of Charles County" and kids of all ages can enjoy amusements in the Celebrate Charles Family Fun Zone. Guests will enjoy live music performed by John Luskey and Three Sixty. A fireworks display will top off the evening at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. There are fees for food and product purchases. Family Fun Zone wristbands are $5.

Guests will also be able to enjoy the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball game against the Camden Riversharks. Game time is 6:35 p.m. and tickets can be purchased by calling 301-638-9788 or visiting . Guests who purchase a ticket to the game will receive a complimentary wristband for the Celebrate Charles Family Fun Zone.

For more information, go to or contact Ms. Rachel Reynolds, Promotions Specialist, at 301-645-0601 or Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.

Town of La Plata Independence Day Watermelon Bash - Thursday, July 4 @ 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Grounds of the La Plata Town Hall
305 Queen Anne Street, La Plata

Join us for hot dogs, games, wet fun, and plenty of watermelon! Event is wheelchair accessible.Town of La Plata web site:

Historic Preservation Commission to Host Awards Ceremony

by Don DeHanas, Associate Broker

It's no secret that Charles County is proud of its rich and storied history. So, why not shine the spotlight on it in class and style every year? Highlighting the county’s past is one of the primary reasons that the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission exists, and the Commission's Preservation Awards and Reception Ceremony serves this purpose perfectly.

This year the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission's Reception and Awards Ceremony is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Old Waldorf School, located at 3074 Crain Highway, Waldorf.

The Historic Preservation Award is bestowed upon eligible businesses, organizations, projects and individuals annually, at a gala awards ceremony. The county's Preservation Commission created two categories for its awards, which are Preservation Service and Preservation Projects.

In the Preservation Service category, recipients are awarded some well-deserved recognition for their superior support for and exceptional achievement in furthering the preservation of Charles County's unique and special history. Some of the specific areas of consideration include the following:

  • Community leadership
  • Education
  • Advocacy
  • Research
  • Planning
  • Development

Under the umbrella of the Preservation Project category, you will find award recipients who have displayed outstanding leadership and initiative in preserving and restoring historic buildings, in interpreting the county's architectural features into new construction, and in the creative reuse and adaptability of the county's historic structures. Considering the number and outstanding quality of Charles County’s historic buildings, we all benefit from the efforts made to preserve and understand them.

Event details for the Charles County Historic Preservation Commission's Reception and Awards Ceremony:

  • Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Old Waldorf School, located at 3074 Crain Highway, Waldorf
  • Each attendee is encouraged to donate $5, which will help further to goals of the Charles County Historical Trust; light refreshments will be served
  • For more information or to RSVP for the event, please contact Beth Groth at 301-645-0684 or

Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival

by Don DeHanas, Associate Broker

Annapolis has long been associated with the love of the arts and creative expression. In fact, AmericanStyle Magazine recently ranked Annapolis among its top 25 arts destinations—a distinction given to U.S. cities exhibiting the highest quality of art galleries, art institutions and art-centered events. In keeping with this art-loving tradition, the third annual Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival is certain to be a big hit this summer. So, clear your calendar for June 9th and 10th and head to the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for a festival you’d be crazy to miss! 

This weekend-long celebration of fine arts and handmade crafts brings artists and art lovers together, while promoting creativity and community pride. Live music will get you dancing as you peruse the juried paintings, photographs, sculptures, furniture, jewelry, wearable art, glass and wood art, mixed media, clay, fabric, metal, leather and much, much more.

Of course, artistic expression isn’t limited to clay and canvas. Indeed, culinary artists from all over the region will be offering up artfully crafted treats—from specialty sauces and dips to gourmet candies and more. This year’s vendors will include Big Kahuna Kettlecorn, The Herb Works Oil and Vinegar, Pretzelphoria and inFused Spreads. Wine tasting is also a huge part of the festival, which features some of the area’s most notable vintners. This year’s festival will include selections from such establishments as Far Eastern Shore Winery, Slack, Friday’s Creek Winery and Gygnus.

The Annapolis Arts and Crafts Festival has something for all ages, and children should definitely stop by the KidsArt tent to make some art of their own and get their faces painted by local professional artists. While all ages are encouraged to attend, please note that valid identification will be required for those wanting to taste wine.

Bypass the lines and purchase your tickets online today! The cost of attendance is as follows:

Adults: $8

Youth (ages 12 to 18): $5

Seniors (65 and up) $5

Children (12 and under): FREE

The Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is located just outside historic downtown Annapolis at 550 Taylor Avenue. For detailed directions from outside of town, click here.

Sunset Concert Festival and Farmers’ Market

by Don DeHanas, Associate Broker

The appealing planned community of St. Charles, Md., lies approximately 23 miles southeast of downtown Washington, D.C. near the attractive small city of Waldorf, Md.

This scenic region, home to more than 67,000 people, gets even more attractive, lovely and charming every year during the Sunset Concert Festival and Farmers’ Market. These tasty and harmonious events take place on Fridays from May through August.

The Farmers’ Market is held at O’Donnell Lake and opens for business on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and at 8 a.m. Saturdays. Concerts take place in the O’Donnell Lake Restaurant Park (located adjacent to the Hilton Garden Inn in St. Charles). In anticipation of the setting sun and all of its attendant kaleidoscopic natural beauty, the performers typically take the stage at about 7 p.m.

According to the community of St. Charles’ city website, the Farmers’ Market is expanding to include Wednesday afternoons. Additionally, the Farmers’ Market that used to take place at the Festival in Waldorf site is relocating to a spot near St. Patrick’s and Smallwood Drive.

Friday, May 11, 2012, kicked off the outdoor music festival’s fourth consecutive year, serving up live performances from a wide variety of regional bands, playing an equally wide variety of musical genres.  

This summer’s roster of performers pops up when you click here and surf over to the St. Charles community’s website, or you can just peruse the list right here (excluding the May 11th show):

  • May 18 – U.S. Navy Band
  • May 25 – BI Richardson & the Black Coffee Experience
  • June 1 – Jennifer Cooper & GrooveSpan
  • June 8 – USAF Rock Band – Max Impact
  • June 15 – Lynn Hollyfield Band
  • June 22 – Steve Cavanaugh Band
  • June 29 – US Navy – Cruisers
  • July 6 – John OLoughlin and the Blarney Stones Band
  • July 13 – Jennifer Cutting and OCEAN Celtic Band
  • July 20 – Higher Hands
  • July 27 – Kajun Kelley Band
  • Aug. 3 – Singer-Songwriter Showcase with Matt Silkworth
  • Aug. 10 – Deanna Dove
  • Aug. 17 – Anthony Swampdog Clark
  • Aug. 24 – Karen Collins and the Backroads Band
  • Aug. 31 – Eric Scott Band

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Contact Information

Photo of The DeHanas Team Real Estate
The DeHanas Team
DeHanas Real Estate Services
1218 Smallwood Drive
Waldorf MD 20603
Office: 301-870-1717
Fax: 240-754-7867

Servicing all Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro areas of Maryland, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County real estate advertised in this website are subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 which makes it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap and familial status, or national origin, or any intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination. DeHanas Real Estate Services will not knowingly accept any listing agreement for real estate sales in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater MD, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County areas which are in violation of the law. Our clients and customers are informed that all dwellings advertised on our website in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater MD, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County areas are available on an equal opportunity basis. All prices and finance claims appearing in this site are subject to change without notice.