Charitable Souls Honorees Profiled

Charitable Souls Honorees Profiled
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A special magazine insert was featured in this week’s issue of The Dispatch spotlighting this year’s Charitable Souls honorees, who will be honored at an awards reception at Fager’s Island on April 24.

For online users, obviously the magazine is not available. Therefore, here’s a look at all the honorees’ and their individual profiles.

Tickets are available for the Charitable Souls awards reception at or by calling 410-641-4561. Tickets are $50 apiece and include beer and wine, soft drinks, lite fare and a goodie bag from the campaign sponsors — D3Corp, Atlantic General Hospital, Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Taylor Bank and The Dispatch

Cathy Bassett

As president of her own public relations and marketing company, working with and executing creative conceptual ideas is nothing new to Cathy Bassett. However, particularly in recent years, the 45-year-old Quantico resident has been using her expertise to better the Salisbury community as well.

Three years ago, she co-created the Great Clue Caper, an annual Amazing Race-style benefit that has grown tremendously during its short history and has raised more than $100,000 for the Village of Hope, a non-profit medical clinic and transitional housing facility for homeless women and children.

Additionally, she has lent her expertise to the Salisbury Zoo as chair of its marketing committee, member of its Board of Directors and launching the Just Zoo It! campaign, which raised more than $30,000 for a new Australian animal exhibit.

“I always tell the groups I’m involved with that I can’t write big checks, but I can give of my time …, she said. “Every successful charitable endeavor has to have both — the idea people and the money people. I am most proud of seeing a brand new idea, like the Great Clue Caper and the Just Zoo It! campaign, become a fun and popular fund-raising event that people look forward to.”

Sharing her charitable spirit with her kids has allowed Bassett to demonstrate the importance of community involvement.

“I also get my kids involved in my causes, because I want them to experience the fun in fundraising,” she said. “My kids have helped out at Clue sites, volunteered at the Zoo, painted the faces of kids, and even worn a giant Wallaby costume. Doing it together is a great experience and I am showing them the importance of giving back to make their community a better place.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Fun, funny and sincere.
Gloria Carr

Since retiring as a Montgomery County teacher and moving to the shore, Gloria Carr of Bishopville has been donating her time to Coastal Hospice.

After responding to a newspaper ad seeking volunteers and completing the required training program, Carr started donating time at the outreach center near Ocean Pines, executing largely clerical responsibilities at first and then expanding her offerings.

She soon became intrigued by the bereavement program, completing the advanced training course. She eventually approached her volunteer coordinator with the idea of creating a monthly Scrapbooking Bereavement Support Group, which has now grown to be offered to individual patients and their families. It’s now an activity that’s widely enjoyed, thanks largely to her efforts and her abilities to get supplies donated.

“I am most proud of establishing the scrapbooking program for hospice,” said Carr. “Scrapbooking provides patients with an activity that can help them focus on a life review or on their memories, temporarily taking their mind off of their illness. It can give them an alternate outlet for processing their feelings about their illness … The memory books that the patients and family members create leave behind a legacy that can be passed down through their families for future generations.”

Carr is looking forward to continuing her work with Coastal Hospice in the future.

“Coastal Hospice is my first volunteer experience. It has provided me with many different opportunities to become involved,” the 57-year-old said. “Coastal Hospice is a wonderful organization to volunteer for. They are very appreciative of the help that all of their volunteers provide.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Caring, empathetic and conscientious

Ed Colbert

The 76-year-old owner of Deer Run Golf Club outside of Berlin has been able to utilize his business operation and his personal passion to help the northern Worcester County community over the last couple decades.

Since 1990, in honor of his first wife who lost her battle to breast cancer, Ed Colbert and his team of supporters have raised more than $300,000 for cancer research through a variety of events and campaigns.

“I have made a promise to fight this cancer as long as I can,” he said.

For 2012, Colbert has set a two-part goal — to raise $15,000 for Berlin’s Women Supporting Women, a non-profit cancer support group that aims to further awareness and provide education for those seeking guidance, and to raise $15,000 for Replay For Life, a volunteer-driven fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Colbert has been nominated as the Ocean City Parrothead Club’s Mardi Gras King four times and has donned the crown as the largest male fundraiser three times, raising more than $50,000 for the various charitable organizations selected.

Additionally, his business, Deer Run Golf Club, is almost always represented as a giver of free rounds of golf at the numerous fundraisers held around the region.

However, Colbert said it’s his volunteer work raising money for cancer that brings him pride.

“I am most proud of my work helping to fight all types of cancer especially breast cancer. If we can put men on the moon, we can certainly beat this dreaded disease called cancer,” said Colbert. “Giving back to the community is a top priority in my life and a focus in our business plan at Deer Run Golf Club.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Resolute, passionate and charitable.

Alexis Dashield

In her nomination for this campaign, Alexis Dashield was called the “blood, sweat and tears behind the Fruitland Community Center”.

Her nomination letter continued, “She ensures that the Fruitland Community Center is a safe and nurturing environment for area youth in the summer and after school.”

Retired from her career at Salisbury University’s Duplication Services, Dashield, 62, has devoted a significant part of her retired life to the center. However, she was intricately involved even while a working professional.

She currently serves as the chair of the Fruitland Community Center, Inc., which offers education, enrichment, summer camps and food service programs to children and families in the community. The center is located in what was originally a three-room school built in 1912.

Since 1985, the center has provided free after-school programs for children during the school year and a six- to eight-week program during the summer months. In 1993, the center began offering breakfast and lunch to children during the summer.

Last summer, the center branched out even further into the educational realm, offering a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) enrichment program to children during the Iva ADAdemy after-school program.

When asked how she balanced all aspects of her life with the desire to serve the Fruitland community, particularly its youth, Dashield pointed to her family and her faith.

“The support of my husband, Keith, and sons, William and Julian, grandson Miles Julian, extended family, mentors and my faith in God gives balance with my desire to serve others,” she said.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Compassionate, dedicated and enthusiastic.

Linda Dearing

Although the owner and president of her own full-service retail business copy center called Copy Central, Linda Dearing manages to find a significant amount time to be a leader in her community.

“If you have the desire, you can accomplish and balance it all, you have to be organized and make good use of your time. What I do comes from the heart to help those in need,” Dearing, 62, said.

Currently, Dearing’s charitable contributions revolve around two programs she chairs.

She is in the midst of raising funds for two, $1,000 scholarships for high school seniors through her work as chair of the Ocean City Parrothead Scholarship Committee.

Additionally, as she has every year since its inception in 2006, she chairs the McGuffey literacy program for the Worcester County Commission for Women. The program provides age-appropriate books for all Worcester County students in first through third grades to keep up their reading in the summer months.

“This program is dear to my heart since everything you do in life depends on how well you read and comprehend,” she said. “In the six years of existence, over 9,000 students have received books, some of these students have never had books of their own to keep at home. I have made an impact on their reading level.”

Additionally, Dearing collects used cell phones that she sends to Verizon for domestic violence victims to use. Each February she also works with local organizations to box and ship Valentines to members of the military and veterans. She is also frequently donates her copy service to area nonprofits in need of help with materials.

Three adjectives she would use to describe herself: Energetic, compassionate and hard-working

Arnold Downing

Along with being the town of Berlin’s Chief of Police, Arnold Downing manages to further serve his community through being a member of the Board of Directors for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services and the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center (Child Advocacy Center). Additionally, he is a trustee at the St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Of his charitable contributions, Downing, 44, said he is most proud of, “being a founding member of the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center.” He feels a particular joy in advocating for children as well as the elderly.

The C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center provides a multidisciplinary team approach to the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child physical and sexual abuse through a collaborative team response. The team includes child protection workers, medical and mental health professionals, law enforcement, Atlantic General and the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Other charitable work on Downing’s plate of late has been working with children at the Berlin Headstart for the last 10 years. He said he feels “blessed” to read and interact with the children.

Additionally, Downing has served for the last decade on the Board of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services. He is currently the board treasurer and “is always available whenever we need him,” according to Executive Director Teresa Fields.

Downing said he has made balancing his day job as the top cop in Berlin with his civic duties a priority in his life.

“I believe the giving of oneself should be incorporated in one’s everyday life,” Downing said. “When service is a priority, it becomes just a part of life for an individual.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Thoughtful, generous and knowledgeable

Mary Ferry

Around West Ocean City’s Diakonia, the only comprehensive provider of emergency and transitional housing for men, women and families on the Lower Shore, Mary Ferry is known as the driving force behind the organization’s Used To Be Mine Thrift Shop.

Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., she gives tirelessly to the store, which she started and continues to manage today as a volunteer. Proceeds from the shop help to continue to provide services at the non-profit organization.

Additionally, she is known for her tremendous skills in the kitchen, sharing often her delicious creations with the community, such as providing the meal for the local AARP’s Octoberfest event and making pumpkin rolls and peach biscotti for Worcester County Developmental Center fundraisers.

Before moving to Ocean Pines, she was involved with the Fransiscan Center in Wilmington, Del. She worked with her colleagues to provide a haven for the underprivileged and many support groups. She said, “I was instrumental in the center receiving grants in excess of $300,000 to refurbish the building.”

A retired bookkeeper, Ferry, 77, said making an effort to better her community has always been a focus for her. She has always been involved in church and civic matters.

For instance, while living in Pennsylvania, she went door-to-door raising money to keep the local public library open and was successful.

“Giving has been a lifelong happening. It’s something I have always done. I can’t think of not being helpful,” she said. “It’s just my way of life. There is always time if you want to make time.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: I don’t know, I don’t think about myself.

James “Jim” Flaig

Through his life memberships to the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club and the Ocean City Elks #2645, two of the most giving non-profit organizations in the region, Jim Flaig is making a difference in the lives of others.

Flaig, a north Ocean City resident, was a founding member of the Optimists’ Condominium Lottery Committee to raise scholarship money and chair of the scholarship committee for 24 years. He has been instrumental in the growth of the club’s annual Seaside Boat Show as well as its youth ID program.

With the Elks, for several years, he took the lead in lobbying the legislature to allow slots machines in veterans and fraternal organizations in Worcester County, enabling hundreds of thousands of future dollars to be directed to the community.

Additionally, with the Elks, he organized a formal golf league that now exceeds 230 members of all skill levels. The league donates generously to a number of worthy recipients, such as the Noel Community and the OCPD holiday toy drive.

Of all his charitable contributions, he is especially proud to point to starting and working with the Optimist “Friend of Youth” Scholarship Program, which has awarded 270 students with more than $1.4 million for higher education, and working to enable slot machines to be allowed in fraternal organizations, such as his beloved Elks Club. He takes pride in “knowing that hundreds of thousands of dollars will be donated to the charitable needs of Worcester County every year.”

With his volunteer work, Flaig, 76, carries a basic approach.

“You do what you can do, when you can do it and most importantly, when it needs to be done,” he said.

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Trustworthy, reliable and dedicated.

Frank and Veronica Gatley

Married for over 45 years, Team Gatley, as known to many, carries out much of its volunteer desires currently through the St. Mary Star of the Sea/Holy Savior Church, the Knights of Columbus and the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

At their church, Frank and Ronnie are Extraordinary Ministers of the Sick where they visit AGH once a month to distribute Holy Community to the Catholic patients. They also volunteer their services at church functions throughout the year.

For the Knights, each has handled a number of different responsibilities. Frank is a 52-year member and Ronnie a member of the Ladies Auxiliary.

However, it’s their mentoring work with the School of the Arts that brings the most pride.

“We are only there an hour a week but it is the most fulfilling thing we have ever done. They all have problems, whether at home, at school or learning abilities, but they are so trusting with us and eager to want to please,” they said. “We honestly believe we learn and receive more from them then they do from us.”

Despite all of their giving acts, the retired couple finds it easy to strike a balance in their lives.

“It’s the people we see in the community also helping out, the people who need the help and the satisfaction you feel in your heart along with the smiles and hugs you receive that keep you going,” they said. “And also knowing when to say no. Sometimes the biggest yes to something is by saying no. You know your limits, your abilities. You just go with that knowledge.”

Three adjectives they used to describe themselves: They chose six since it was two of them. Unassuming, modest, old-fashioned, easygoing, faithful and trusting.

Bill Gibbs

Best known for being the founder of the Dough Roller Restaurants, which began serving Ocean City customers four decades ago, Bill Gibbs has also in recent years earned quite a reputation for his charitable work, particularly with the Atlantic General Hospital (AGH).

Along with serving on the hospital’s foundation board, he is also the chairman of its annual fall golf tournament.

“The Fall Golf Classic is a success every year,” Gibbs says. “The community wants to support their local hospital. I am fortunate that friends of mine are mutual supporters of each other’s causes. They have been key donors of the Fall Golf Classic. I am very grateful and thankful of their support and generosity.”

According to AGH, under his leadership, the golf tournament has seen its net revenue increase 10% every year Gibbs has been lending his influence and leadership to it.

As AGH penned its nomination of Gibbs, people who know the long-time restaurateur realize, “he is reluctant to take credit for his efforts.”

That’s why his answer to the question what contributions on a charitable level brought him the most pride was not surprising.

“I donate on a local level, but I am most proud of the jobs that I provide in the community,” he said.

For Gibbs, 63, his community involvement has grown over his career as a result of his family and staff members assuming more responsibilities at his various businesses.

“I have been lucky to trust my sons and long-term employees to run the businesses’ daily operations so I can step back and become involved in more charitable events,” he said.

Three adjective he used to describe himself: Generous, compassionate and determined.

Sierra Hall

The 10-year-old Worcester Prep student confirms miracles do happen and she has turned her amazing life experiences into a positive for herself and her community.

Last spring, while playing lacrosse, Sierra Hall went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field. She survived and has recovered “and has used her second chance at life as a living mission,” according to her mom, Melanie, who adds, “My daughter remains a healthy 10-year-old has used her experience to stress the importance of learning CPR and of raising funds for life-saving research.”

Born with two heart defects, Sierra has had three open heart surgeries and now has a permanent defibrillator in her abdomen and utilizes a cow valve, which will need to be replaced multiple times as she grows.

Since being released from the hospital, Sierra, who can no longer play contact sports, has spread her story, sharing her knowledge of the importance of CPR and raising money for the American Heart Association, such as the $1,000 she raised through her Community CPR Day at her parents’ restaurant, resulting in 100 people being trained in CPR/AED use.

Last October, Sierra, joined by friends and family, raised $9,000 in the Sussex County American Heart Walk in Georgetown, Del.

Other charitable work she manages to fit into her life includes working with the Help Portrait Southern Delaware effort, dedicating two Saturdays a month to the Whimsical Animal Rescue and collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House (she collected 35 pounds of tabs in six months). She also had an AED donated to her former lacrosse team.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Kind-hearted, honest and friendly.

Michael James

As general manager and managing partner of the Carousel Oceanfront Hotel and Condominiums in Ocean City, as well as two new properties recently acquired by his company, Michael James understands the importance of caring for people and providing personalized service just as Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) does.

This familiary is one of the reasons James has been so involved over the years in AGH. Currently, he is a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors as well as its Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization.

Over the past several years, James has extended this compassion throughout the community and has been a strong advocate for advancing the mission of the hospital.

His service on the AGH Board of Directors and the AGH Foundation has been invaluable. The Carousel has been the title sponsor of AGH’s Fall Golf Classic for over 10 years and been host to the annual AGH Board of Directors meeting and the annual Thanks for Giving Celebration to the delight of attendees for several years. These generous contributions have assisted AGH in its mission to care for people and advance health care for the residents and visitors of the community.

In addition to his support of the hospital, James is President of the Ocean City Economic Development Committee and on the board of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.

Previously, he has also served on the Ocean City Tourism Commission, the Greater Salisbury Committee, the Industry Advisory Board of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Maryland Tourism Development Board during the Ehrlich administration.

Jean “Bean” Keagle

Cancer has played a major role in Ocean Pines resident Jean “Bean” Keagle’s life.

Both her parents had breast cancer, and she has been diagnosed twice herself, including an initial bout dating back to 2001.

She most recently in 2010 was re-diagnosed with breast cancer and last year completed another round of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

A registered nurse from Dorsey, Md. Keagle, 55, understands cancer and its devastating mental, emotional and physical effects as well as anyone.

When not battling for her own life, she has dedicated much time to helping others and raising money for the fight against cancer.

She often volunteers for the American Cancer Society and was in charge of the Look Good Feel Better campaign until 2010 when she learned she was about to address metastatic breast cancer.

Additionally, and along the same lines, she’s actively involved with the northern Worcester County Relay For Life effort and in 2007 was the second highest individual fundraiser. She also volunteers for Play It Safe.

Keagle is also an involved member of the Ocean City Parrothead Club, which seems to always be raising money for causes across the shore.

“I just enjoy helping people,” she says of her desire to be active in her community.

Along with the support of her husband, Boz, she said she balances her charitable work with her professional and personal lives with a motto of sorts.

“Do what you can when you can,” she said. “Try not to overdo so that you can do it well.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Determined, gregarious and resilient

Bob and Becky Kelly

Bob and Becky Kelly are dedicated supporters and ardent believers in Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin.

As a result, they are regular contributors to the hospital and for the last several years have provided the title sponsorship for the hospital foundation’s annual anniversary celebration, which is held at local residences and celebrates the hospital and its growth since being founded.

Charitable acts and specifically giving to their community hospital is a family tradition, as Bob’s father, Bill, sat on the board of directors of his hometown hospital and even launched the foundation there. Bob Kelly learned from his father the importance of civic activism and there is no greater example on the local front than his service to Atlantic General Hospital.

Co-owners of Kelly Foods in Berlin, with Bob’s two brothers, Bob and Becky split their time between Ocean City and Medina, Ohio, where Kelly Foods is headquartered. They love the

Eastern Shore and hope to eventually spend more of the year here overseeing the Berlin operations.

Having lived in Worcester County before Atlantic General Hospital was built, and the years since, Bob Kelly truly values the medical services now available.

“The time it takes to get to Salisbury could mean a great deal to someone who needs care,” he said. “We know that a private hospital has to have the support of its community to keep ahead with the medical technology. Anyone can support with $5, $10 or even their time. The more people who

realize that, the more the hospital – and the community – would benefit in the long term. A lot of people with a little bit can help a lot.”

He acknowledges that the level of philanthropy is dependent upon financial resources, but, he said, generosity knows no bounds.

Audrey Killen

It’s only been two years since Audrey Killen created and became executive director of Operation Shooting Star, Inc. (OSS), but its impact has been significant.

OSS is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of autoimmune diseases and committing funds to research programs.

Killen, 30, knows a lot about autoimmune disease, as she was in 2009 diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and a few years prior her father learned he had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

“I am most proud of having the courage to dream of and create from ‘scratch’ a non-profit that is specific to my own life and challenges as a way to filter out the negative thoughts and feelings of reality …,” she said. “Instead of falling victim to our situations, I decided to establish a positive outlet as my way of contributing something to believe in and to focus on for myself and others who are struggling with autoimmune diseases.”

The organization held its first fundraiser in 2010, raising $4,862, and last year held a few more benefits. OSS has raised almost $9,000 for the research program for Multiple Sclerosis and autoimmune diseases at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Killen says her “passion” for the work she is doing with OSS drives her to achieve a balance between her career as the catering sales manager for Centerplate Catering and her new non-profit organization.

“It is easy to justify being busy, exhausted and overwhelmed when it is something you are passionate about.  Also, I try to always surround myself and OSS with positive people, who share the same values of hard work, compassion and creativity as I do,” she said.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Honest, passionate and determined.

Kimberly Majus

Overcoming the odds is nothing new to Kimberly Majus, a Salisbury resident who volunteers 36 hours every week with the Holly Community, Inc.

At a young age, as a result of an overgrowth of her skull, she and her family were told by a doctor that she would likely not live past her 8th birthday. Today, although deaf/hard of hearing, she is 47 years old and leading a productive life.

“I’ve survived living with migraines but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying life. With resources, you can find ways to overcome any barriers and do almost anything you set yourself to do,” Majus said. 
At the Holly Community, Majus serves as a peer coach for the computer training lab, training and assisting people with disabilities and seniors on technology.

“I really enjoy working with people with disabilities. I have always tried to be a role model to show them they can do anything they set their minds to do in spite of their limitations,” she said. “No matter what the limitations, or how old you are, it is never too late to learn and have an enjoyable life. It makes me feel good when I have made a difference in one’s life.”

Majus is motivated by the fact that providing resources to special need individuals can make a major difference in how they function in society.

“Every community has resources to provide a need for someone that has needs. The agency that provides these resources needs to be able to have the resources to provide the needs of the people. I have used several resources within my community and was able to get my needs meant,” she said. “Now, I want to share the resources with others and serve them while giving back to my community.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Willing, sacrificing and always striving to do 100%

Buck Mann

Ocean City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade marked its 31st edition last month, and one of the men responsible for the huge community fundraising event is Buck Mann.

Although he owns a local property management firm, most people know of Mann for his charitable work across the lower shore, particularly in recent years.

Those contributions were taken to another level after the tragic death of his son, Michael. Armed with the support of the community, family and friends, the Michael Mann Fund For Children was started to honor the young man. Years and years of work led to more than $200,000 being raised for local children’s charities and children facing special needs.

He currently chairs the Children’s House by the Sea annual golf outing, which annually raised $50,000 for the non-profit organization based in Ocean City.

However, it’s the annual Irish parade, which he also chairs, that’s the most high-profile of his fundraising activities. After all, this year’s edition was its largest ever and it has grown from a one-entry event to one with more than 130 various entries and is known to be the second-largest St. Patrick’s parade in Maryland.

All the while, organizers use the proceeds to help send local high school graduates to college and fund several youth sports groups.

“Probably in the last 10 years, we have been able to average between $15,000 and $20,000 in scholarships plus another $5,000 to local charities and youth teams,” Mann, 70, said. “Its all-volunteer and we just give it all back … After so many years, it just feels right to give back to our community that has been so good to all of us.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Not sure I have a self-description.

Daryl McCready & SonRise Church

“Living Our Lives So Others Meet Jesus”

That’s the vision statement for SonRise Church, which was created in 2002 by Pastor Daryl McCready and a core group of citizens. The Berlin-area church has now grown to 600-plus members.

“Our goal and calling is to love God and to serve others and to be a blessing in our community,” McCready said. “Ultimately our desire is to demonstrate the love of Christ by the way we live and serve.”

Of all the charitable contributions SonRise is involved in, and there are too many to list here, McCready said he’s most proud of the Back Pack Program and Sharing The Harvest.

The Back Pack Program ministers to children at Buckingham Elementary and Berlin Intermediate schools and provides food for those kids in need. A team of volunteers gathers every week to pack the bags for 53 students who might not otherwise have the means to get full meals.

Sharing The Harvest is a mobile food ministry and pantry that delivers food into Worcester County communities. In 2011, according to McCready, it was recognized as the top free food provider in Worcester and second largest on the shore by the Md. Food Bank.

“This ministry, like many of our ministries, works in partnership with other churches. We believe that churches should not be in competition but rather cooperation for the good of this community and Kingdom of God,” he said.

Among its many other charitable offerings, SonRise is also known for providing community events through its Block Party Wagon, complete with inflatables and plenty of party favorites. The trailer is often utilized to help at school fundraising events.

Three adjectives he used to describe his church members: Kind, generous and genuine

Linda Pepper

The Holly Community Inc. (HCI) in Salisbury is a unique place full of special people, one of which is Linda Pepper.

HCI’s mission, “is to support people with disabilities as they discover and implement their personal goals in life by promoting access to community resources and providing programs that support choice and increase independence.”

HCI offers services that are community based and includes programs for people who are physically and mentally disabled. To carry out its goals, HCI relies on grants as well as fundraisers, organized to sustain the organization and its services.

Pepper is one of the many people who can always be counted on to volunteer at these events, such as the Steak and Lobster Dinner held in March and the Annual Spring Festival, Auction and Car Show to be held on May 12.

She has also assisted in categorizing the telephones used in HCI’s Assistive Technology Lab, which brings information and resources within reach to residents of the shore. The lab is open to anyone with any disability who finds barriers in their lives because of their disability. Some products include magnified reading devices, remote control for immobility barriers and visual signalers for the hearing impaired.

Of her contributions to the charitable community, Pepper said she is most proud to have been able to help those seeking a return to normal living.
“Due to my volunteer efforts at Holly Community, I secured employment with one of their programs entitled Money Follows The Person, which assists individuals living in nursing homes to return to the community,” Pepper said.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Caring, persistent and organized

Ginny Reister

Although retired from professional life, Ginny Reister’s plate remains full, contributing time to a variety of local non-profit organizations.

A breast cancer survivor herself dating back to her 1997 diagnosis, much of Reister’s recent and current volunteerism is through Women Supporting Women.

She started the Berlin chapter in 1998 with Carol Prager and ushered the breast cancer support organization through its early stages before turning her responsibilities over to a paid coordinator in 2005. She has assisted every coordinator by providing organizational history and regularly donates time and money.

Additionally, Reister’s love of all things related to water is another source of her community giving. She has been a certified water operator for the Community Church at Ocean Pines for nine years.

She is also the chair of the Aquatics Advisory Committee that reports to the Ocean Pines Association Board of Director and founded the Ocean Pines Hammerheads swim team in 1975.

Other organizations she has volunteered with are Assateague Coastal Trust, Ward Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the local libraries and Town Cats, just to name a few

Life’s experiences have taught the 77-year-old Ocean Pines resident how to balance the rigors of life with her charitable giving.

“I learned how to cope when I was nursing my husband though terminal cancer, my mother with Alzheimers and attempting to finish my masters degree,” she said. “I had a lot of friends who helped at all levels and when you don’t have a lot choices, you simply have to put one foot after the other and that’s how you get through.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Planner, dedicated and intense

Susan Runk

Working with children is a huge part of Susan Runk’s life. It’s been that way for most of her life, and the Salisbury resident seems to relish her active involvement.

Currently a teacher, coach and advisor at Holly Grove Christian School in Westover, she is molding the minds of her students.

However, she also continues to give back to the youth of this community through the many initiatives of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.

Runk, 53, is an active participant in the setup of Worcester Youth’s annual Haunted Hallway in Berlin and even dressed up as a jailed clown last year. Additionally, for the last five years, she has coordinated the collection of items for the non-profit’s annual Thanksgiving food giveaway to needy families. She also plays an instrumental role in the creation of its annual holiday floats.

Of all her charitable work, however, she said it’s her time as a leader at the Cedarbrook Christian Camps in Pennsylvania/Ohio that brings her the most pride. She works with special needs children helping them navigate through the camp safety and with confidence, among other things.

The mother of three and grandmother to five said balancing the rigors of life with her volunteer work is not as challenging as it was once.

“There is nothing more encouraging or stimulating than giving of one’s self … When I am serving, I am happy. As a youngster, my small town of Selbyville, Del. was a very generous, safe place. Everyone in the community kept a watch on the youth of the town and worked together to create opportunities for us to grow,” she said. “It is simply a way of life I choose to continue to emulate.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Passionate, dependable and creative

Michelle Schachter

The 46-year-old Bishopville resident proudly wears many hats — mother, wife, musician, office manager, teacher, and, of course, volunteer.

Michelle Schachter volunteers and teaches Religious School for Temple Bat Yam in Berlin. She is active in many aspects of the synagogue, including its annual Mitzvah Day, which aims to spread members out in the community to make a positive difference.

She is also a familiar face in a variety of local fundraisers, as a member of the band Full Circle, which often donates its services to help entertain attendees helping to raise money for certain causes.

However, it’s her work with the Autistic Children’s Support Group of Worcester County that makes her particularly proud. She has been a leader in the group since its inception eight years ago, helping to raise more than $70,000 for local special needs children and their families.

“These funds have allowed our group to help with everything from specialized equipment and therapies that otherwise would have been unaffordable, to helping families with medical evaluations and summer programs that are geared to meeting the needs of children on the Autism Spectrum,” she said. “It makes me so happy when just providing the support and a road map for interventions gives a parent confidence to ‘expect a miracle’ with their child. It is extremely important that I set a positive example to my two daughters on the importance of giving back when we have been so blessed.”

Along the same lines, she serves on the Board of the Special Education Citizens Advisory Committee of Worcester County, raising awareness and helping to improve the system.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Optimistic, compassionate and determined

Judy Johnson Schoellkopf

Through an organization she co-founded, the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA) Eastern Shore Chapter, Judy Johnson Schoellkopf has played a key role in one of the shore’s largest fundraising campaigns — the Pink Ribbon Classic, which benefits the American Cancer Society (ACS).

For 15 of the last 16 years, Schoellkopf has been on the ESGA Board. In 1997, the group held its first all-women’s golf tournament for ACS. That event led to an expansion of future events to include more than a dozen annual fundraising activities from August to November. Over the last 15 years, well over $1 million has been given to the ACS.

The marketing and promotions director for her family’s business, Old Pro Golf, Schoellkopf, 68, volunteers for numerous organizations, but she said it was her work years ago with several other citizens to launch Winterfest of Lights in Ocean City that makes her most proud. She continues to help the event through her work with the Winterfest Gala, which raises money to enhance the lights display.

It’s this pride in her community and family that keeps her grounded and provides a boost to her “charitable soul.”

“Whether it is for a charitable or non-charitable organization, you must give your total commitment. Every organization has a significant cause or many causes. As an exceptional leader, I am not afraid to guide and delegate various tasks to others while working along with them to accomplish success and harmony …,” she said. “In order to fill all those demands, you must have full support of your family and business associates. When you ‘give,’ you get back so much more in self rewards.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Caring, dedicated and energetic

Mary Smith

For more than 20 years, Mary Smith, 76, of Berlin, has been dedicating time to volunteering at the Diakonia facility in West Ocean City.

A former member of Diakonia’s Board of Directors, she was instrumental in recruiting volunteers to work the organization’s Thrift Shop and always did it wearing a smile and with a gentle touch.

The Thrift Shop carries merchandise donated or received from other operations. All proceeds contribute substantially to Diakonia’s daily operations.

Through her time with Diakonia, Smith has done just about everything to help out the staff members and men, women and families seeking the program’s resources.

Diakonia operates two buildings in West Ocean City, providing emergency and transitional housing, emergency food services and counseling and assistance for its guests. Diakonia offers a food pantry for those in the community who have a home but have a need for assistance.

Along with grants and some government support, Diakonia largely relies on community donations to stay afloat along with generous volunteers like Smith

“My duties have ranged from helping to cook dinner, praying and having dinner with the guests, driving them to their meetings now telephone duty during the staff meetings each Tuesday,” she said.

Being retired, aside from caring for her grandchildren and working some in the summer months, Smith said is proud to be able to help out those less fortunate.

“Due to my age and ‘stage’, I am available to give back to my community,” she said.

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Caring, non-judgmental and comfortable with myself

Lou Taylor

A high school principal for nearly two decades, Lou Taylor will soon be assuming an administrative post with the Worcester County Board of Education. However, chances are he will still be involved at Stephen Decatur High School as well as the lower shore community.

The 51-year-old Bishopville resident currently is steering the initiation of the school’s alumni association. It’s fitting because he is a Decatur grad himself. Taylor is the chairman of the association’s capital campaign to raise $500,000 to build a field house on school grounds. The goal was met within 11 months and the new field house stands today at the south end of the school’s football stadium.

“This was the first project of the Stephen Decatur Alumni Association and the first of its kind among Worcester County Public Schools,” he said.

Taylor’s charitable contributions go far beyond his latest effort, as he also leads the school’s annual United Way campaign. For the last decade, Decatur has led all county schools in monies raised, exceeding its goal by at least 300 percent annually.

Other personal contributions include working with Diakonia, the Developmental Center, AGH and Friendship United Methodist Church, to name a few.

“Through giving the necessary time and energy to do my job well, I am constantly interacting with people. I have also enjoyed creating numerous community connections via memberships and offices I hold,” he said. “Because the school and children are my passion, I am able to ask for contributions for their benefit with honesty and belief in the cause. In return, it is easy to give back to the community that supports Stephen Decatur High School so unselfishly.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Self-motivated, dedicated and compassionate

Anita Todd

As the community relations manager for Coastal Hospice & Palliative Care, Anita Todd understands the ins and outs of non-profit work, including the critical aspects that volunteers serve in the community.

Todd, 50, of Berlin, may work for a non-profit, but she is an accomplished volunteer herself and a regular donor to such organizations as Diakonia, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Church Mouse Thrift Shop, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of the Lower Shore and, of course, Coastal Hospice.

While not owning or even working for a business, she served on the board of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce for three years, including a term as president. She is proud to report during her time as president the chamber’s membership nearly doubled and she created the Berlin Chamber Runaway Bride event.

In addition, this coming fall will mark her fourth year as chair of the Berlin Fiddlers Convention, the largest event the historic town hosts.

She has co-founded the Delmarva Crime Survivors Network, a grassroots organization dedicated to working with crime victims and their families.

“In addition to being a wife and mother and maintaining a career with a local non-profit, I am also the caretaker of a parent with Alzheimer’s and cope with my own chronic illness. So for me, volunteering is all about pacing my energy and time both appropriately and efficiently, and utilizing all available resources to help me achieve my goals,” she said. “I am also always ready to learn new ways of doing things better and faster and I’m big believer in staying educated and informed and learning from others.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Resourcesful, empathetic and curious

Joel Todd

Since he was 14 years old and a member of the Order of DeMolay in Berlin, Joel Todd has made of point of giving back to his community, despite holding demanding jobs as the former Worcester County State’s Attorney and current prosecutor in Wicomico.

Today, he serves on the Board of Directors for Diakonia and is currently chairing its marketing committee. He is also serving his hometown of Berlin in a volunteer capacity as a member of its Historic District Commission. He’s also an active volunteer at various Berlin events, such as the Jazz and Blues Bash, through the Chamber of Commerce.

It was during his recent term as Master of the Evergreen Lodge that the organization decided to renovate the building on Main Street. It’s a project that he was proud to be a part of.

However, he said it was the creation of the Child Advocacy Center in Worcester County that brings him the most pride. Known also as the Cricket Center, it was started during his time as State’s Attorney.

Balancing the desire to give back to his hometown community is not a challenge he seems to struggle with.

“Someone once told me ‘there’s always time to do the things you really want to do.’ I love Worcester County in general and Berlin more particularly,” the 57-year-old Berlin resident said. “I want this county to be even better for my grandchildren than it was for me. I have been blessed with a very supportive wife who is as community oriented as I. Now that my children are grown, I have a lot more free time than I used to.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: He said, “I would prefer to continue doing what I can for my community and let others provide the adjectives.”

Buddy Trala

Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services is an organization close to Buddy Trala’s heart. Consequently, he has spent the last decade helping the non-profit out in any way he can.

Worcester Youth’s focus is on empowering families, helping individuals lead productive and healthy lives. Trala, 49, of Berlin, believes in that mission and has hosted numerous fundraisers and events that benefit that work.

When he found out the Ocean City Parrothead Club would be raising money for Worcester Youth as well as another organization close to his heart — the PJ Aldridge Foundation — he jumped at the chance to run for King of the Mardi Gras. He was successful in his bid and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the dual causes.

Trala said his unique position in the restaurant business provides him a vehicle to help in the community. However, he said he particularly enjoys when he can personally allocate time to charitable efforts.

“As a restaurateur, I am able to lend the venue of Sunset Grille to support the community through fundraisers and events. Although I have raised considerable amounts of money for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling and other agencies, I am most proud when I am able to donate my time,” he said. “I had the chance to host a lunch with the kids from a summer camp that WYFCS was having. Many of the kids had never been out to eat. We taught them about manners and they were able to order off the menu. Spending time and interacting with the children was amazing. Providing opportunities to kids is what it’s all about. … I believe we live in a wonderful community and feel a great responsibility to be a part of positively impacting others.”

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Compassionate, kind and community-minded

George and Barbara Whitehead

The Salisbury couple represents a formidable partnership on the community front and their “charitable souls” are on display through a number of local organizations.

For the retired Barbara, 64, she particularly enjoys volunteering two days a week at the Seton Center in Princess Anne as well as at Ashbury United Methodist Church, among others.

For George, a professor at Salisbury University, working with and mentoring youth makes him especially proud.

Salisbury’s Promise annually sponsors the Youth Leadership Academy at SU, and George, 66, feels privileged to have been involved with it the last six years. He also volunteers to produce Hometown Heroes on PAC14, highlighting volunteer activities of young people.

“In this way, we want to show the positive behavior of youth,” he said. “I am most proud of my work with young people. Because of my work on the Youth Leadership Academy and Hometown Heroes, I have met some remarkable young people and have had the opportunity to mentor several of them. … Several years ago, I reflected on a number of my activities over the years and decided that my role in the community was as a positive youth developer.”

In addition to donating time, George and Barbara donate financially to a number of local organizations.

On the need to balance professional and volunteer work, George and Barbara said it’s important to know your limits. “Service has a place in your life but so does your family, health, friends, integrity, and career. Sometimes you have to say “no,” which is not always easy,” he said.

Three adjectives he used to describe himself: Passionate, dedicated and inquisitiveThree adjectives she used to describe herself: Caring, kind and generous

Carol Zaiser

Since 2003, Carol Zaiser, 68, of Salisbury, has donated in excess of 3,000 hours to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

“Anything that I can do at PRMC gives me the most pleasure,” she said. “You see so much throughout the hospital and I realize just how fortunate I am.”

Based on their enthusiastic nomination of her for this campaign, PRMC seems to feel quite lucky to have her as a member of the hospital system’s volunteer base.

“In the 3,000-plus hours we have had the good fortune of her assistance, we have learned she is organized, thorough, gracious, thoughtful, humorous and generous. She deals with the public at our Customer Service window as well as being very proficient on the computer with constant interruptions,” her nomination read. “When Carol Zaiser and her husband George decided to move to Berlin from Chestertown, we had no idea how lucky we were going to be that Carol took an interest in volunteering with us at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.”

Other responsibilities Zaiser has at PRMC including delivering patient mail, directing and transporting visitors, folding and stuff envelopes, uniform mending and helping with volunteer event preparations.

Now retired, Zaiser seems intent on continuing to serve PRMC and its patients and is grateful to her husband, George, for his support of her charitable endeavors.

“I am very fortunate to have my health and a reasonable amount of free time,” she said. “I am truly blessed to have a husband who supports my choices of volunteer work and most important we volunteer together for some things.”

Three adjectives she used to describe herself: Perceptive, compassionate and generous

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.