When the Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative was first established in 2011, it relied heavily on the efforts of its visionary founder, Asbury Methodist Village resident the Rev. Hal Garman. Senior volunteers in the program mentor elementary schoolers, help mothers learn English and engage in conversations with high school students.
As the program’s reach expanded into the Montgomery County, Maryland, community surrounding AMV, the need for professional support became apparent.
A part-time coordinator was hired in 2015. When that person left a year earlier than expected, resident commitments were secured with the goal of funding a full-time position for at least three years.
The campaign was given a major boost by a $75,000 grant from the Kahlert Foundation.
“This program is especially attractive because it can benefit the youth in the area and seniors at Asbury,” Greg Kahlert, president of the Kahlert Foundation, said in his grant letter. “This is a win/win for both groups.”
Michele Bulatovic was hired in fall 2017 as the program’s first full-time coordinator.
“She has unlimited energy, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to the program,” Garman said of Michele. “As I reach the point where I need to pull back because of my age and health, I can do that with confidence that the Beloved Community Initiative will thrive and grow under her management.”