• Story by Katie Willis | Photos by Caroline J.

Love Thy Neighbor - The Arentz Family


The needs of a neighbor often can feel like the needs of family and friends if you grew up in one of the communities on the Mid-Shore.

Everyone has the ability and desire to give in different ways, whether it is donating money; giving your time through volunteering; lending your shoulder or a listening ear; cooking or delivering meals to those in need; or lending your voice to a cause you are passionate about.

Biana Arentz of Grasonville said philanthropy starts at home. She was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and grew up in Aguirre, Puerto Rico. Her father was a physician who thought giving back to his community was important.

This sense of humanitarianism was passed down to his children, Biana said, and the family would volunteer together during fundraisers and visit families in need together.

“Family and charity start at home,” Biana said. “Helping your family leads to helping others … I think that it's very difficult to make a huge difference in the world, but it's very easy to make a difference in one person's life … That's the way that I try to bring up my children, and that's the way that I try to get up in the morning.”

Bosom Buddies Charities, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 2006 and promotes breast cancer awareness, encourage early detection, support treatment and celebrate healing. For the past four years, Biana has been the chairman of the organization, and the organization has raised almost $2 million for breast cancer research, Biana said.

Biana has been with the organization for about 11 years, since the beginning, and at 13, Elizabeth Arentz, now 20, joined the Bosom Buddies Ball Committee. Biana and Elizabeth have been active in organizing the Bosom Buddies Ball, the charity's biggest fundraiser, for years.

Biana and Elizabeth currently are working on the next Bosom Buddies Ball, “Faces of Courage,” which will take place Saturday, Jan. 13 at the Annapolis Westin Hotel. The ball is the biggest fundraiser for the organization, and proceeds benefit breast centers on the both sides of the bridge, Biana said. For more information or to purchase tickets, email bosombuddiesinfo@gmail.com.

Biana said she and her daughter get a lot of support from the rest of the family; her husband, Del. Steve Arentz, R-36-Queen Anne's, and her son, Steven, 16. She said many of her commitments take a lot of time away from family.

Family is important to the Arentzes, and Biana said giving back starts there. Following the destruction left by Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico, the family took Biana's 15-year-old niece, Antonia, into their Grasonville home while the island heals. Antonia began school at Kent Island High School at the end of September.

Elizabeth stays involved with Bosom Buddies Charities while attending college at the University of Maryland as a neurobiology and physiology major. She also works as a service coordinator for the Honors College on campus, and helped begin a group on campus called the Students for the Advancement of Women in Science. The group goes into underprivileged middle schools in Prince George's County and helps teach kids curriculums that include science, technology, engineering, and math.

This past year, Elizabeth went on an alternative spring break trip to help sea turtles through the University of Maryland “Terps Helping Turtles” program in Topsail Island, North Carolina.

“It was the most magical experience of my life,” Elizabeth said. “It's a giant beast that will never, ever do anything for you, other than be there for you to look at. But to be able to help it and rehabilitate it, and be part of its journey back to nature … was a magical thing.”

In the future, Biana hopes to be able to focus on a program or a need that is not being met in the community related to mental health, specifically related to adolescents and young adults.

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