By Mary K. Tilghman
7:08 AM EDT, October 16, 2012
When Debbie SeBour was a teenager, she worked in the Arbutus flower shop run by Betty Reidel.
On Oct. 10, she was honored by Soroptimist International of Arbutus with the Betty Reidel Award during the group's anniversary dinner at Matthew's 1600 Restaurant in Catonsville.
"She taught me about business," SeBour said about Reidel, for whom she worked nearly two years.
After her experience with Reidel, SeBour got involved in business with her husband, Bruce, an Arbutus native. Five years ago, she opened a real estate office in a building her family already owned.
Economically, times were tough, she admitted, but she was able to grow her business in spite of it.
Eleven agents and two employees work for ReMax New Beginnings Real Estate on Sulphur Spring Road, which handles mostly residential and light commercial real estate.
Like Reidel — who ran her own business and was the local Soroptimists group's charter president — SeBour has found a number of ways to serve the Arbutus community. SeBour has organized fundraisers for the Children's Miracle Network, helped mentor students in Lansdowne High School's Academy of Finance, and organized blood drives for the Red Cross.
"Debbie is very involved in community service and charity work," said Margaret Henn, the organization's treasurer and head of its membership committee.
It was that kind of commitment that earned her the Betty Reidel Award, which memorializes a businesswoman devoted to her community.
For SeBour, working in Arbutus has meant helping with community events as well as the charity nearest to her heart, the Children's Miracle Network, which provides funds locally to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. Her commitment there is due the care the oldest of her three grandchildren received several years ago at Hopkins.
When she visited Jaicee, who is now 10, she was impressed with the level of care her granddaughter received.
"We just loved it," she said. "They took such good care of her."
After she left, she remembered the other children and their families who remained behind — and took on raising funds for the Children's Miracle Network.
"A lot of kids are there for months and months on end," she said.
Often, other members of her office get in on the act. Her agents even donate a portion of every settlement to the Children's Miracle Network.
"They've committed to helping with that cause," SeBour said.
The blood drives, which yield about 90 pints of blood, are held at the real estate office.
"We do pretty well," she said.
The office hosts four students in the Lansdowne High School of Finance three times a year. They gather at breakfast and talk about business before the students work with the agents on some aspect of the real estate business.
When their work is done, they meet once more over lunch. SeBour said she enjoys these sessions and noted that the School of Finance has a 100 percent graduation rate.
Not every real estate office gets so involved in the community.
"That's just who we are," SeBour said. "We believe heavily in getting involved in the community."
For SeBour, that has extended to her involvement with the Arbutus Business and Professional Association for which she heads the membership committee.
One of the ABPA projects she enjoys is the Santa House, which opens annually with much fanfare at the Town Hall the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Her staff gets involved, setting up and manning craft tables. Every year, children are invited to decorate and take home birdhouses. Last year, 200 birdhouses weren't enough. This year, SeBour already has 300 ready for the event.
SeBour's efforts have made a difference, said Patti Sue Nolan, the ABPA president.
"You can make a difference here and contribute to the business community," she said. "Debbie has the heart for it."
Nolan praised SeBour's efforts at the Santa House as well as her work — from fundraising and design to construction — on the town sign at Sulphur Spring Road and Linden Avenue.
"She did it all," Nolan said.
SeBour said the party, which her granddaughter Jaicee attended, speeches and flowers, special citations from Congress, the U.S. Senate and state and council officials, "was a very nice honor."
And the $250 check she received will go to, you guessed it, the Children's Miracle Network.
In addition to SeBour, two other local women were honored at last week's ceremony.
The Ruby Award for a woman who made an extraordinary difference in the lives of other women was given to Officer Debra Miller, domestic violence coordinator at the Wilkens Police Station.
The Woman Helping Women Award was presented to Deborah Davis, director of the YWCA of Greater Baltimore Permanent Supportive Housing Program. The program has provided a home for 13 formerly chronically homeless women — and Davis has been involved in homelessness issues for many years.
The Soroptimists have supported this program in recent years, Henn said.
The Soroptimist International of Arbutus is recruiting new members with plans for a new member event in November.
For information, call 410-789-2019.