GAITHERSBURG — Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council issued a proclamation Monday night designating November 2018 as “Adoption Awareness month” and Nov. 5as “Entering Foster Care with Dignity Day” in the city.
Rob Scheer, the founder of Comfort Cases, a Rockville-based nonprofit which provides large duffel bags containing essential and comfort items to youth entering foster care, accepted the proclamation. He was joined by his husband, Reece, and their four adopted children. Comfort Cases has served over 40,000 foster care kids since its founding in 2013, and Scheer was recognized and featured on CNN Heroes for his work.
In accepting the proclamation, Scheer discussed his own past as a homeless youth.
“I was 18 years old and living on the streets near D.C.,” Scheer said. “You may have seen me eating out of a garbage bag and not thought twice about me. I made a decision that when I grew up that wouldn’t be me. We moved to Montgomery County because we believed that this was the place to make change. I urge you to think of the 4,300 foster kids in Maryland alone who are waiting for their forever home. I urge you to think of the kid who doesn’t know where his home is tomorrow. We owe it to these kids to let them know that they matter, that they are more than a garbage bag.”
Scheer said that Monday was his and Reece’s “Gotcha Day,” the anniversary of the day they signed their adoption paperwork.
City staff provided an update on the city’s drone program. The city first purchased a drone in November 2016 with the goal of potentially using it to enhance the city’s media outreach and promotional activities. Deputy City Attorney Frank Johnson discussed the process of obtaining authorization from the Federal Aviation Authority to operate the drone, which proved far more extensive than staff originally anticipated. The city now has two staff members trained and authorized to pilot the drone. Johnson also responded to public concerns about privacy by reiterating that the drone was not permitted to be used for police work or code enforcement.
“Our initial thought was that the drone could be used to market city events like the Book Festival,” said Britta Monaco, Director of Community and Public Relations. “But it can also be used to conduct virtual tours of our parks and other facilities, as well as to conduct mapping as needed.”
The Council also issued a proclamation on Monday designating Nov. 14 as “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day.”
Staff concluded the presentation with a sample of aerial footage shot by the drone of Olde Towne, The Kentlands, and other city locations. City officials expressed support for the drone.
“When you first came to us with this a few years ago, I was a little skeptical,” said Council member Neil Harris. “But now I can see that there is a lot of good potential here. So, I guess this is the inaugural of the Gaithersburg Air Force.”