Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A new home for an old lodge

Bert Rankin (left) of MPT and Meg Schumacher, the Howard County Conservancy director, work on the Hodgepodge Lodge. (Baltimore Sun photo by Doug Kapustin / September 26, 2008

The Hodgepodge Lodge officially has a new home. This weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing closure on a project (read all about it in this Balitmore Sun article) that started when I coordinated the first annual MPT Vision Honors Banquet. In the spring 2007, MPT actively started looking for a perfect partner for moving and refurbishing the lodge. Although this idea originated many years earlier, it was at the 2007 Vision Honors Banquet—where we inaugurated the “Miss Jean” Award for Service to Children and Families—when it really started to pick up speed.

Upon hearing about our search, I was contacted by Meg Schumacher, Executive Director of the Howard County Conservancy. She expressed interest in the lodge because they had an existing relationship with Miss Jean and would be honored to help relocate it to continue her legacy. A great partnership was born. Over the past two years, many staff here and at the conservancy worked hard to move, rebuild and restore the lodge to its 1970s technicolor luster.

On Saturday, I watched as parents shuffled their children in and out of the newly restored structure as Miss Jean sat out front – just as she did during the show back in the 1970s – it was heartwarming. I don’t know if it was my pregnancy hormones or what, but I fought back the tears as MPT’s VP of Technology George Beneman, close friend and former colleague of Jean’s, spoke about the original “Queen of Green” that would walk to work and the influence she had on so many.

People sat down next to her to tell tales of how she made a difference in their lives, children’s lives, the list goes on. I was proud to be there to support her and her family, and celebrate with them.

Old friends George Beneman of MPT and Miss Jean share a laugh in front of the restored lodge.

One of my favorite parts of the event was a one girl scout’s project to help encourage learning within the lodge. I forget her name (blame it on the “pregnesia”), but the young lady was sitting inside the lodge offering tours of her many activities that were scattered on the walls and tables within. She was eight but had the maturity of a college student explaining their thesis. I thought to myself, if Miss Jean had envisioned what was going to happen to her Hodgepodge Lodge after the show went off the air this probably would have been pretty close to a perfect second life!

I am so excited to know that MPT and PBS continue to provide quality children’s programming (like Hodgepodge Lodge was back in the day) so I have a safe place to let my daughter go when she wants to watch a little something on TV. Thanks, MPT!

Desirée Edwards
Assistant Manager, Major and Planned Giving

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