33rd Annual Governor’s Service Awards Recipients
Jenna Adams, Amanda Briody, and the Mondawmin Urban Green Space
During April 2015’s unrest in Baltimore City, much attention was focused on Frederick Douglass High School. Amanda Briody and Jenna Rose Adams, who have been teachers at Frederick Douglass High School since their AmeriCorps service with Teach For America-Maryland, were frustrated by the negative stereotypes and media portrayal of their students. Jenna, Amanda, and other teachers, created outlets for students wanting to dispel the negativity surrounding them so that they could reflect, process, and take action to share their concerns and bring about positive change. Wanting to create something with a lasting impact, Jenna and Amanda adopted a vacant lot in West Baltimore near Frederick Douglass High School and founded the Mondawmin Urban Green Space (MUGS), an urban garden. Today, MUGS has 10 raised beds, and it’s being explored for residents in that community to adopt their own mini-plots.
Montgomery County Community Action Agency – VITA Partnership
More than two decades ago, the Community Action Agency initiated a free tax help program for a highly diverse low-income population at the Takoma East Silver Spring Center, serving many recent immigrants with limited English proficiency. Since then, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has expanded to three additional sites. Volunteers work through the program to give back to their community and to help build strong families in Montgomery County. During the last year, 122 volunteers served 2,543 households, including 1,881 during tax season.
Emergenct BioSolutions eGIVE Team
Emergent BioSolutions is a global specialty biopharmaceutical company with about 1,300 employees. More than a third work at four sites in Maryland. Its corporate social responsibility program, eGIVE, was established in 2012 to provide a formal structure for the company and employees to be involved in charitable giving. eGIVE stands for Give, Invest, and Volunteer in Emergent communities. Through eGIVE, volunteer participation has dramatically increased for the whole company from 1,207 hours in 2013 to 5,000 hours in 2015.
The American Indian Village Creation Project
The American Indian Village Creation Project of over 220 volunteers was established to build a replica of an Eastern Woodland Indian village. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Department of Parks and Recreation began planning and researching the creation of the American Indian Village in August 2013. It developed a partnership with the Native community to aid in the interpretation of the Native culture. The replicated Eastern Woodland Indian village was built next to the Patuxent River on a cleared area of a farm field. It includes over 50 new trees, a 40-foot longhouse, a wigwam, a palisade fence, nature trails, exhibits, and interpretive signs – all of which help to tell the story of the first people in this area.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Each Friday, Dr. Ashraf Meelu, Dr. Mohammed Rafi Malik, Nauman Nazir, Filza Mansoor, and other volunteers, provide medical care through a free clinic – no matter race, color, religion, or financial status – simply to give back to the community. Consultations, check-ups, medicine, and flu shots are just some of the services offered. Medications and supplies are funded and donated by the volunteering physicians, especially Dr. Meelu, who has given a wealth of his time and money to ensure the sick are treated. Many have benefited from these clinics – some who have traveled a great distance. In 2015 alone, the total number of volunteer hours was 900 and almost 500 patients were seen.
Rick Blubaugh III
Rick began volunteering at the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company in 2005 to give back to the community and to fulfill a childhood dream of being a firefighter. In 2010, he ran for vice president of operations – one of the leadership positions at the time that had constant turnover, poor direction, and a lack of personnel management skills. Rick understood what was necessary to fix the many internal problems that faced the company and surrounded himself with other like-minded volunteers who wanted to work together. In place now is stable leadership that maintains the day-to-day operations so Rick can devote his attention to new station planning. He does all of this while working a full-time job and spending time with his family.
Penn-Mar Human Services – Community Learning Services
Caroline Christofferson, David Hahn, Susie Diffenderffer, and Christopher McCarron focus their efforts on the most vulnerable citizens of Baltimore – the hungry, homeless, and elderly. They volunteer their time consistently to ensure that there is a true impact on the organizations and individuals they serve. In 2015, they served food to over a quarter million individuals at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, prepared more than 800,000 nutritious meals for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland, participated in Operation Welcome Home Maryland about four times a week, and donated food and stocked pantries at the Hereford Food Bank, among other volunteer activities. During the year, they each served over 250 volunteer hours – totaling more than 1,000 hours as a group.
Beth Ann Buzzio
Initially, Beth began volunteering at Stevens Forest Elementary School to support a reading program for a friend. After realizing the great need at this Title I school, she offered additional help, assisting language learners and any other students in need of academic support, both during and after school. So that each child has something to read at home and over school breaks, Beth purchases books and stuffed animals. But, her service does not stop with language learning assistance. When students in the after-school program complained about running a lap, Beth showed up in her sneakers to run with them, and continues to do so every day. She motivates students by joining them in their challenge.
During World War II, 18-year-old Mary began volunteering for the American Red Cross at now-named Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At 91, she still volunteers there today. Every Thursday, Mary pushes the comfort cart, stacked with toiletries, blankets, and snacks, through the inpatient wards. Visiting patients and their families, she gives a warm smile, a hug, and a hand to hold. There are no records to show the countless hours and people she has served in 73 years. She has helped to keep the morale high for patients and their families, and will continue to do so as long as she can.
Earvin Michael Gonzalez
Earvin moved to Maryland years ago to attend Morgan State University. He joined CASA’s AmeriCorps program in 2013 and is now serving his third year. When Earvin joined CASA, it was focused on helping lawful permanent residents apply for American citizenship. The son of immigrants, Earvin helped his parents complete the citizenship application and prepare for the naturalization interview when he was a sophomore in high school. He has said he will never forget the emotion his parents had when they took the oath and became U.S. citizens. He has helped more than 100 lawful permanent residents apply for American citizenship, and aided 15 clients in applying and receiving a micro-loan to fund their citizenship application.
NONPROFIT VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center at Dimensions Health Care
This center was established in 1973 to meet the growing demand for special services for victims of sexual assault and abuse in Prince George’s County. The Volunteer Victim Advocate Program was created to provide support, comfort, and advocacy to victims who seek forensic examinations. Due to increasing demand on staff, volunteers were recruited to accompany each victim. The volunteers formed such special bonds and proved to be very effective, so the program was expanded to volunteers also providing court accompaniment. They learned that victims felt more confident with volunteers in court, knowing they were not alone.
Sean Stinnett works in the Office of Business Programs at the Maryland Department of General Services, where he assists in maximizing small and minority-owned business participation in state contracts. Outside of work, Sean oversees all Boy Scout troops and scout leaders in East Baltimore, is chairman of the board of directors at the Maryland Academy of Technology & Health Sciences Charter School in West Baltimore and a member of the 300 Men March Movement. He also is a board member for the School Family Council at The Mount Washington School and vice chair of Xpressive4ever Dance, a nonprofit which provides Baltimore’s children access to the arts. A believer that everyone should experience being loved and have someone in their life to trust, he is committed and dedicated to giving back to Baltimore. Wanting to be a positive role model for all children, he includes his two daughters in his volunteer work so they witness the true value of leadership, family, and loyalty.
Rebecca is an 11-year veteran and wounded warrior of the U.S. Army. She served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, and is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. She’s volunteered in numerous capacities, such as a Girl Scout Leader, Big Sister, Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor, and as an advisor to the Veteran’s Administration and Congress on minority veterans’ health issues in Maryland. A commissioner on the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, her Native American upbringing in Oklahoma showed her what was needed to combat the issues that children, youth, and women encounter. She received the President’s Volunteer Service Award-Gold and was awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Ribbon. What makes her volunteer service so extraordinary is her patriotism, dedication, and success not only as a Native American, but also as a wounded warrior and a woman.
Jennifer is a senior at River Hill High School and president of Angel’s Network and Answer to Cancer – both community service clubs aimed at raising money for various charitable organizations. Through Angel’s Network, Jennifer has organized and led multiple events, such as making winter necessity shoe boxes for the homeless and planning the annual River Hill Talent Show, the proceeds of which go to organizations like We Care Solar and Operation Smile. After both of Jennifer’s grandparents passed away because of cancer, she realized how little was known about its different types. She founded Answer to Cancer to raise awareness for more types of cancer by having her club volunteer at different walks and adopting local families affected by cancer, effectively aiding those in need in the most direct way possible.
Since its founding over 200 years ago, BGE has played an integral role in working with Maryland communities to address economic development, public safety, civic issues, and other initiatives that help improve our neighborhoods and communities. In 2016, BGE will contribute $5 million to nonprofit organizations in its service area. BGE focuses on funding programs that will deliver measurable and sustainable impact in the areas of education, environment, community development, and arts and culture.
Day to Serve is an annual, month-long community service initiative in which Maryland joins Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia in encouraging its residents to get out and volunteer. During Day to Serve in 2016, more than 450 volunteer events held.
GOVERNOR’S CHAMPION OF SERVICE AWARD
Ravens Foundation, Inc.
The Baltimore Ravens recently unveiled their first ever Bookmobile at Abbottston Elementary School in Baltimore City. Fully funded by the Ravens Foundation, Inc., the rolling library will be owned and operated by the Maryland Book Bank, which is a nonprofit organization that distributes free children’s books to students, teachers, schools, and organizations throughout Maryland. As an extension of the work currently executed by the Maryland Book Bank, the Ravens Bookmobile will deliver new and gently used books to low-income children who may not otherwise have access to these resources. All books on the Bookmobile will be sorted according to grade level, so that students will have the opportunity to select books of their choice, with the hope of increasing interest and commitment to reading. The Bookmobile continues the Ravens’ long-standing commitment to supporting education and literacy. In 2015, the Ravens unveiled a school library restoration at Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary #34 totaling over $200,000 in renovations. In addition to the more than $100,000 investment the Ravens made in the Bookmobile, the team also committed $25,000 to the Maryland Book Bank for upkeep and maintenance of the vehicle.