SNOW HILL – Two area residents were honored for their efforts to support health on the Eastern Shore by the Maryland Rural Health Association.
The state organization named Ocean City resident Ed Montgomery Outstanding Rural Health Volunteer and recognized Sen. Jim Mathias as Outstanding Rural Health Legislator for 2015. Both men were nominated by Debbie Goeller, health officer for Worcester County.
““Keeping our community healthy is incredibly important and being in a rural area has its own strengths and challenges,” Goeller said. “Luckily, Worcester County Health Department has always had fantastic support from our proactive legislators and dedicated volunteers. It was my privilege to nominate both Senator Jim Mathias and Ed Montgomery for their Outstanding Maryland Rural Health Awards. Both have worked tirelessly to promote public health locally and have more than earned their recognition.”
Montgomery, who has been volunteering with the health department for the past four years, said he was surprised and honored by the recognition.
“In looking at the other people receiving awards, I felt I was in very good company,” he said.
Montgomery, who moved with his wife to Ocean City after a more than 30-year career as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Navy, said he first started volunteering with Atlantic United Methodist Church. Montgomery eventually took over administration of the church’s “Helping Hands” fund. In doing so, he got to know the people the church helped with rent, utility and food assistance.
“I came to the conclusion the church couldn’t do it all,” he said, pointing to Ocean City’s seasonal economy and the array of individuals who were left struggling in the winter.
One thing led to another and in recent years Montgomery found himself helping the Worcester County Health Department with a number of local initiatives.
Though homelessness prevention and awareness have been particular interests of his, Montgomery has also helped with the Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk and has served on various committees for the health department.
“I truly enjoy it,” he said. “I enjoy being a part of the community and one of the benefits is the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with.”
As Montgomery was honored for his efforts, Mathias was also recognized for his contributions to local health initiatives. Born and raised in Maryland, Mathias has a long history of political service, first in Ocean City and now at the state level. With the recent acknowledgment of heroin use as an epidemic in the state, Mathias endorsed legislation establishing Maryland’s new Overdose Response Program through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He has also supported legislation that makes overdose prevention drugs available.
Mathias has also been an advocate for cancer patients, as he was instrumental in the passage of the Kathleen A. Mathias Oral Chemotherapy Act, named for his late wife, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of oral chemotherapy as well as intravenous chemotherapy.
“As a legislator, Sen. Mathias has shown himself to be a passionate advocate for increasing access to quality healthcare in rural areas,” a news release from the health department reads.