Humans of Kent County

RiverArts Builds Community Through Arts

Humans of Kent County

Welcome to the Humans of Kent County Project, a year-long celebration of the wonderful humanity in our little corner of the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  Our hope is to get as many people as possible involved in documenting the great people that live, work and visit Kent County.

All are welcome to participate. We want to see all of our community represented and are looking for folks to help us collect stories and images from all corners of our county using your smart phones, cameras, recorders or whatever you have available. You don’t have to be a photographer or an oral historian. You do need to have an interest in people and their stories. We recommend going out in teams of two — one person to interview and one person to photograph but one person can assume both roles.

Stories from all participants are featured online on our Humans of Kent County tumblr web page. Photographs and quotes can be submitted by emailing your photo, story and consent form to Lani Seikaly at laniseikaly@me.com.  Each submission should consist of a photograph, a story or quote and a signed release form so we can use their image and words on our web page and in our exhibitions.  The Chestertown SPY features selected photos and stories from our Humans of Kent County web page each week.

Want to participate or learn more?  You can also schedule a group or individual orientation by contacting Lani Seikaly at laniseikaly@me.com.

Take a look at what has been posted so far!

RiverArts appreciates the support of the following sponsors to help fund Humans of Kent County.
Stories of the Chesapeake
The Hedgelawn Foundation

RiverArts would also like to thank Bob Ramsey and The Finishing Touch for their expertise in helping to create the large posters for our Humans of Kent County exhibitions.

From Our Humans of Kent County Website

SyRus McGowanSyRus is a member of the Bayside Hoyas.“The Hoyas Program is helping our youth achieve success. I’ve been part of the Hoyas for a year now. It’s fun, it keeps me active, it keeps me with my friends so I’m not bored, it helps the community a lot and helps with the environment. We planted trees, put down mulch on the trails, took bugs off the plants and picked up trash at Turner’s Creek. If I wasn’t part of the Hoyas, I would probably be bored and playing a whole lot of video games. I would probably play sports but I wouldn’t be as active in the community as I should be.” Photographed by Lani Seikaly and interviewed by Pam White and Lani SeikalyPaul Tue III Co-founder and Co-leader of the Bayside Hoyas Family Advocate, Eastern Shore Psychological ServicesWhat are you trying to accomplish with the Hoyas?“The end goal is to get every kid that comes to our program into college, into a branch of the military or a trade. There’s a lot of We want them to be successful. No matter what field they choose, we want them to be viable parts of society. We don’t want them to graduate from high school with no plan or no example. That’s the end goal. There’s a lot of stuff in the middle but that’s the nuts and bolts. They’re not thinking about it just yet, but we are. We’re on grades constantly, we’re still offering tutoring. If I could raise enough money, I want to take them on a college tour.“ Why do students stay with the Hoyas?“The 3 “R’s” — Relate, Remain and Respect. Its not a secret or a magic formula. We’re relatable. We remain, even on their worse days. Even when they’re hard to love or hard to be around, we’re still going to get on their nerves; we’re going to come back. So no matter how much you push us away, push us away, we’re going to remain. And then we respect. We’ve been that age. We’ve been where they are. I think with adults, we demand respect, we want respect. But we forget, we need to give it to each other. I respect my 5-year-old son. There has to be a level of respect in our relationship for me to be the best dad that I can be and for him to be the best son that he can be. So the 3 “R’’s”. It’s as simple as that.“   Interviewed by Lani Seikaly and photographed by Jeff WeberSandy AppellSandy Appel is the Assistant Director of the Humane Society of Kent County.“I have worked my entire life in Kent County since 1993. There’s a good feeling in Kent County, the community, and the way people really care about the community. It’s really heartwarming to see how much people really care about animals. And especially since these animals come to us through no fault of their own. They’re homeless animals of Kent County, and they don’t have a voice so we are their voice basically, and we’re there to provide the best possible environment for them until we can find them that suitable home that they deserve. And we just had a success story of Cleo, who was one of the dogs at our shelter who has been there since September of last year, a very long time, and she just got adopted on Friday afternoon. Lots of tears.”Photographed and interviewed by Ronnie Edelman
Ty WilsonTy Wilson is a member of the Bayside Hoyas. “The Hoyas are a great way for young men to get out of their homes. We do community service, we play basketball, but most of all, we help the youth. So we keep out of trouble. It’s like a big brother, a big family. We’re all connected. If I wasn’t involved in the Hoyas, I’d probably be at home being a slacker, not doing community service, not helping in the community and not spending time with my brothers.” “I plan to play football and lacrosse in college at Auburn University. It’s a great college, great academics and great athletics. I plan on majoring in history. I just feel like history is so important to our naCon, and I just love studying about it. My favorite people in U.S. History are some of the Black leaders. Booker T. Washington is probably my favorite. He used his academics and brightness to help bring a change to Black Americans in the turning point of the 20th century.” Photographed and interviewed by Lani SeikalyJayShaun Freeman“When I was 10 or 11 years old, they asked me if I wanted to join the [ Hoyas ]. They said we were going to play some basketball, get tutoring, and do community service. Now I’m 15 and really glad for the program. When they say they are going to do something, they do it. We say, “Keep it One Hundred,” which means always tell the truth. The way they carry themselves, I catch on to it. Say your teammate makes a bad play, you pick them up instead of yelling at them. I have a 3.4 GPA and my dream is to go to Georgetown University.”Interviewed by Jonathan Chace and photographed by Jeff Weber.Carolyn Brooks “I just loved living in the country. At that Bme we had a house that had a porch. We would play together underneath the porch. We used to make little cars – we had the real match box cars. We built all the roads out in front of the yard. We used stones as people and put them in the little boxes. [Parents] couldn’t afford to buy you the real things so we were creative. We used to put lightning bugs in jars, and at night we’d be sitting out there watching them lighting up. It was fun.” “When we were little, the men in the area worked on farms and each man had farm that he worked for. And they would go out in the morning to do the tomatoes and corn and stuff and then they’d go on to their regular job in Delaware. In the evening, they’d come back and go on the farm and finish up. And my brothers, when they got a bit older, they did that as well.” Photographed by Ken Young and interviewed by Lani Seikaly
Manuel Camper“I’m a junior at Kent County High and 17 years old. I’m in the National Honor Society, I have a 3.9 GPA. This summer I’ve been playing with a team in Baltimore, MD. It’s an AAU team. So we travelled to Philadelpia, Indianapolis, Vegas. It was my first chance to actually play on television — ESPN Youth. I went over to Baltimore 2-3 days a week. Late nights. My mom would take me right after work. I want [to go to] a four year college. I want to play basketball but I want to major in Civil Engineering. I’m a math person.”“I saw [the Hoyas] program, and it looked nice — service oriented, life skills. So I wanted to be involved. Service is around the community. We do libraries, we have field trips. and we read to little kids. We go around and do a little of everything. I just like being with the little kids, like when they come in and we teach them basketball. I like being someone they look up to. I like giving them an example. I try my best.”Interviewed by Pam White and photographed by Jeff WeberPierre TueCo-founder and Co-leader of the Bayside Hoyas“The success of our program is due to our perseverance and our reliance on each other. The three of us are transplants, “city slickers” some would say, where we learned not to take “no” for an answer. We’re tough in a good way, like iron sharpening iron. We have a slogan, “three the hard way.” We self-check ourselves and each other. We’re close knit. We rely on each other. Someone makes a mistake, we rectify it, and then move forward.”“Kids come to us and our program because we’re approachable. We say “Keep it One Hundred,” which means we’re always honest. They may not want to hear what we have to say, but they know we are truthful and expect the same from them. We love the kids like they’re our own. And if they need anything, night and day, they know they can call us.” Interviewed by Jonathan Chace and photographed by Jeff Weber.Catherine “Miss Honey” Murray“I was born in Kent County at Worton Point. When I was born 73 years ago, they had mid-wives – I didn’t get to a hospital. I’m living in the family home on Big Woods Road. I had a beautiful life. I had a lovely husband who I lost last year. My husband was a waterman. He was much older than I was. We were together 52 years; we were best friends. I’ve been working at Echo Hill for 45 years. I love Echo Hill – it’s my second home. I love kids, I love people – I’m a people person. I go to Chestertown, and I see people I don’t know, and they say there’s Miss Honey. I say “Hi” but I don’t know who they are. They know me from Echo Hill.”Interviewed and photographed by Ronnie Edelman.
John QueenCo-founder and Co- leader of the Bayside Hoyas“For me, it’s just seeing the kids get an award for something positive. Growing up I never got rewarded for something positive. So to see those kids get an award for something positive, to feel like somebody cares… that’s all we care about. Whatever we can do to help them achieve whatever goal they want to do in their life, we’re here for them. We’re going to help them. Any hurdles or barriers down the road, we’re going to have a support team that will help them through it. We want them to be the best person they can be.”   “What we’re doing is building leaders one person at a time. Leadership skills are the one thing that can navigate through a lot of negativity because at the end of the day if you believe in yourself, if you believe in your family, if you believe in your support circle, it doesn’t matter what any one else thinks about you. You take three leaders and put them in a room, something great is going to happen, and they see that. So we’re building leaders. They teach the fifth graders, they teach the middle school kids. They say, “Hey that’s not what we do. That’s following. We don’t follow; we lead.”Interviewed by Lani Seikaly and photographed by Jeff WeberShipley Newlin   Shipley, now age 105, reflected on several memories, including when he was a jeweler in Rock Hall. “When I was younger, not even 20, some friends and I took a couple trips out west. We found many interesting stones in the parks and mountains. I’d collect and polish many of them. I turned them into some of these jewelry pieces. For quite awhile, I belonged to a group in Rock Hall that did different kinds of art.“ “We brought all those stones back by auto. It was the early 1930’s and I had a Model A Ford. But we kept getting flat tires. We carried a couple extra spares, but we were always taking the flat tires off the car and having to patch them. One day there were just too many flats for us to continue.” “For my 100th birthday, my son arranged for me to ride in an old motorcycle sidecar. When we got back to the party, I was driving the motorcycle. I also remember long ago, taking some of the girls for rides in those sidecars. They’d get such a thrill, especially when we took a sharp turn and lifted the sidecar off the road.”   Interviewed by Carol Niemand, transcribed and photographed by Jeff WeberBarbara Snyder“During our early years on the farm, I expressed my creative side by caning chairs, weaving baskets, redecorating the house, planting the full colors of a flower garden, and managing a family household. Later on, I had time to pursue more fully my artistic interests, largely by landscape painting. The subjects of my pieces – silos, barns, farmhouses, fields – convey the respect, love, and connection I feel for rural life. All in all, it was and still remains a good life and a great adventure here on the Eastern Shore.” Interviewed by Jonathan Chace and photographed by Ken Young