BERLIN — Comptroller Peter Franchot made the rounds on the Eastern Shore Wednesday presenting education-based Golden Apple Awards in both Wicomico and Worcester counties as part of a continuing campaign to honor volunteers in Maryland.
In its inaugural year, the Golden Apple Award has been presented to both individuals and groups around the state. The common denominator is that award winners dedicate themselves to education without any form of compensation.
“There are thousands of people around the state of Maryland that volunteer to help out in the public schools. And we created this Golden Apple award because we wanted them to not always be unsung heroes without any recognition because we at the state level appreciate what you do, the way you handle yourself and the consistency with which you come in and help out. It’s a huge help to us as we try to make these kids better prepared and have a higher quality of life than we had,” said Franchot.
With Maryland still trying to drag itself out of a recession, Franchot emphasized the need now more than ever for dedicated volunteers.
“We’re going to have a bit of a bumpy ride because of the economy,” he told students. “If you listen in on your parent’s conversations it’s a soft economy and therefore the volunteers that come in and provide help to the faculty are absolutely essential for the future.”
In Worcester, Franchot gave the Golden Apple to Jackie Carey, a seven-year volunteer at Showell Elementary School who volunteers with kindergarten students. While she may not be compensated materially, Carey asserted that she comes out ahead with volunteer work.
“Every day what I give I get back a hundredfold at least. This has saved my sanity, my right mind…on many occasions things were rough and I could come here and look at the kids and we’d do some good,” she said.
Carey volunteers one hour every day, five days a week.
In Wicomico, Franchot presented the award to the Wicomico Mentoring Project, an organization that describes itself as trying to “build relationships between caring adults and students with the goal of improving academics, attendance and behaviors.” The project matches students with volunteers from various walks in the community, including local businesses, civic and faith groups. Mentors meet with students for an hour every week over the course of the school year.
One organization or volunteer from each of the 23 counties in Maryland and Baltimore City received a Golden Apple Award.