SALISBURY, MD---Alexis Dashield has been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record, a business-based newspaper in Towson, MD. The list recognizes the outstanding achievements of professional women who reside or work in Maryland.
“Alexis Dashield has proven herself every bit the champion of her community and her cause,” said Richard Pollitt Jr., Fruitland city manager, in his letter of recommendation for the honor. “The Fruitland Community Center has become a living testimonial to the struggle for opportunity and intellectual freedom in the African-American community and today is the site of a successful after-school and summer tutorial program.
“Ms. Dashield has been and continues to be a driving force behind the program not only from an operational sense, but as a public cheerleader for the cause, encouraging public and private support for constant improvements to the facility and the program.”
Among her achievements include mentoring and providing services to at-risk and underprivileged children:
“Some of the children participating in the Fruitland Community Center activities with behavior problems could not attend field trips without their parents,” Dashield told Top 100 Women judges. “I volunteered to chaperone. I will never forget the excitement in the eyes of the children when they were told they had a chaperone. As a result of this experience, field trips are commonly included in our curriculum.
“I have also coordinated a summer food program and recreational camp for at-risk children. Since 1993, more than 7,000 nutritious breakfasts and lunches have been served to children ages 5-18. The summer camp includes a computer lab, reading area, board games, television and VCR and DVD players. Education is included in all center activities. It has been a privilege to provide education, healthy meals and a safe place for so many at-risk children.”
Judges making the Top 100 selection said they were “reassured by the amount of energy and time [Dashield] put back into the community and astounded by the breadth of [her] talent.”
Dashield's involvement with the Fruitland Community Center began in the mid-1980s when she was informed that her son, Julian, would fail first grade or be placed in a transitional grade ,she was aware of the "tracking" of children in this area and concerned that tracking could cause her son not to reach his full potential.
In the five months that followed, volunteers Mary Gladys Jones and Mary B. Pinkett at the center's Saturday free tutoring program helped Julian catch up with his classmates. Today, Julian is employed with Lockheed Martin Space Operations at the NASA Goodard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, as a satellite engineer for the Aqua and Aura Earth observation satellites. He earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from the Morgan State University School of Engineering in December 2004. His mother is president of the Fruitland Community Center Inc.
“I see our son in the children who come to the center,” Dashield said, explaining why she remains passionate about the program 18 years after her introduction. Since 1985, the Fruitland Community Center’s Ivy AKAdemy has included children from ages 4-17. Currently the Centers focus is on tutoring, improving social skills and communication. Staff and tutors include Mary Gladys Jones and Enestine Upsher and Salisbury University intern Brainne Jaminson.
When not working at Salisbury University's Copy Center or spending time with her family, husband Keith and son William, Dashield is usually at the Fruitland Community Center, working with board members, planning activities or working to gain more program funding.
A reception and ceremony honoring this year’s Top 100 winners is 5-8:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. Tickets are $60 each, $25 for children 12 and under. A packet of $10 tickets is available for $550. Tickets are available at the Maryland’s Top 100 Women Web site, www.mddailyrecord.com/top100w/index.html. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "