Columbia, Maryland…They are four shining lights in Howard County—individuals and teams who have provided services that enhance and enrich the lives of Howard County residents by going above and beyond all expectations in their service to the community. They are the Association of Community Services (ACS) 2012 Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Award Winners.
George Pittman, Volunteer of the Year is a former physicist and CIA employee who loves math, science and critical thinking. For the past 40 years Stevens Forest Elementary School has benefited from the time he has dedicated to these areas. His passion and volunteer efforts include creation of a “phenomenal Science Resource Center” for Stevens Forest Elementary School. His love of teaching and dedication is particularly noteworthy since 52% of Steven’s Forest’s children are economically disadvantaged. Volunteering sometimes as much as 60 or more hours a week, his generosity in sharing his time and love of science is unmatched. George works with all 3rd-5th grade students, on projects such as his recent “Impact of Cigarette Smoke on Plants” which not only taught important scientific techniques and botany, but whose results subtly imparted important information on the dangers of smoking to his students. He develops teacher and student workshops, creates curricula for teachers, and is currently writing a book so that what he has learned can be passed along. The school’s principle, Ron Morris says “I’ve never seen anyone who gives to a school like George.”
The Volunteer Team of the Year is the Cold Weather Shelter. This extraordinary effort last year involved sixteen congregations averaging 100-150 volunteers each, who collectively keep homeless men, women and children warm and safe during winter, and provide them with resources that often help them find a path out of homelessness. Each congregation takes responsibility for the program for one or two weeks during the winter months, arranging food, bedding, and often special programs ranging from resume workshops, to children’s activities to movie nights. Administered by Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, last year the program ran for 18 weeks from November through March and served an average of 75 men, women and children. In its nine years of operation it has helped more than 900 homeless persons. “This remarkable program is testimony to the power of volunteers partnering with other community resources to address a critical need," stated Grassroots Executive Director Andrea Ingram.
Donna Michener, Employee of the Year, is the founder of Bridgeway Community Church’s Community Cupboard, which she organized and has run for the past ten years. Last year it provided food to 681 families at Thanksgiving and 350 backpacks of supplies, to name just a few of its accomplishments. A satellite office of the Howard County Food Bank, each month it serves an average of 853 people. In addition to non-perishable food, it helps with daily living necessities (such as temporary assistance to pay BGE and other utility bills). The parent of a special needs child, nominator Amy Simms noted, “Donna has a special heart for individuals with special needs and individuals that live alone, and goes above and beyond to make sure that those individuals feel supported and loved.”
Maryland Access Point (MAP) of the Howard County Office on Aging is the Employee Team of the Year. Focused on seniors 50+ and those with disabilities over 18 years of age, this group of 14 committed professionals guide those in crisis through the labyrinth of resources available to ensure they receive the help they need, and to which they are entitled. When a counselor picks up the phone, it may be someone about to lose their home, or a daughter whose mother can no longer live alone. Individually and collectively, the team is an extraordinarily knowledgeable and dedicated group. Last year they touched more than 30,000 people through calls, individual appointments and community outreach. Department of Aging Director, Dayna Brown notes, "I'm very proud of our MAP team. They are dedicated and committed to their work. More importantly, every day their knowledge and resourcefulness make a measurable difference in peoples' lives in Howard County."
This years’ recipients will be honored June 20 at the Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards Luncheon, which will be held at The Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Tickets to the luncheon are $50 per person and $375 for a table of 8. Tickets can be purchased at www.acshoco.or. Sponsorships, a way to honor the honorees and Howard County’s Human Services Community, can also be found there. Sponsors this year already include Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr LLP, Redhead Companies, Bell and Barad Media, Wegmans, Marc & Ande Kolp and Towne Group
The Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards were created in 1975 to honor the work of human services organizations and those volunteers and staff who go above and beyond all expectations in their service to the community. It is named after Audrey Robbins, a former Director of the Howard County Department of Social Services. Through her professional and volunteer services, she touched the lives of many, and her consistent interest in all of Howard County was an inspiration to ACS in establishing this annual awards program.
The Association of Community Services is a network of non-profit, for profit, faith-based and government agencies and citizen advocates. Founded in 1963, ACS develops, supports, and promotes the Howard County human services community with education and training, advocacy, and community connections. ####