Given the number of people touched by FIRN, Garcia said the ACS award is well-deserved.
"If people know what we do, it would be easy to decide," he said.
Wegmans (Business of the Year) — Wegmans stores have a long history of helping the surrounding communities, so it only made sense to continue that tradition when the grocery store chain opened its Columbia store in June 2012, said Wendy Webster, store manager.
The store sponsors the Special Olympics Howard County's Inspiration Walk, providing healthy snacks and walking with participants who need assistance. Wegmans also works with the Arc of Howard County to provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities. In May, the store will host the Hope Factory's Happy Hope Bag Project, where volunteers stuff everything from crayons and colored pencils to toothbrushes and lip balm into bags for children undergoing treatment at area hospitals.
Throughout the year, Wegmans also partners with United Way of Central Maryland for volunteer projects and special events. And since May 2012, the store has donated more than 64,300 pounds of food to the Howard County Food Bank and area food pantries.
"Wegmans is a true community partner that goes above and beyond for their employees, their customers and the community as a whole," said Amanda Pizzurro, associate vice president of development for United Way of Central Maryland.
With more than 600 employees, the challenge is not finding someone to volunteer but finding enough volunteer opportunities to go around, Webster said.
"This is our home, too, and it's our neighborhood," she said. "We want to make the neighborhood strong, and a neighborhood that's strong makes our store strong."
Del. Elizabeth Bobo and Sen. James Robey (Legacy Awards) — For more than 35 years, Del. Elizabeth "Liz" Bobo has held elected office. She served two terms on the Howard County Council and one term as Howard County Executive. In 1995, Bobo became a member of the House of Delegates, representing District 12B in Howard County. And now, after 20 legislative sessions in Annapolis, she is retiring.
Sen. James "Jim" Robey served as Howard County Chief of Police from 1991 to 1998. He then served two terms as Howard County Executive. In 2006, Robey became a member of the state Senate, representing District 13 in Howard County. He, too, is retiring at the end of this term.
Because of their lifetime of work in Howard County, the ACS board chose Bobo and Robey for the Legacy Awards, Driessen said.
"[Through] their commitment, particularly to the clients we serve … the two of them have really represented their best interests at the county and state level," she said.
Board members noted Bobo's efforts to close the gap between the county's richest and poorest residents, as well as Robey's work ensuring the safety of school-aged children and victims of violence.
Both Bobo and Robey said they are honored to receive Legacy Awards.
"An award coming from ACS has a very deep meaning for me," Bobo said.
Many of the ACS member organizations, including FIRN, formed while Bobo served on the Howard County Council, and she has helped those organizations grow through the years.
"It's very humbling," Robey said of the award.
Robey has worked with several ACS member organizations, including as a volunteer driver for Neighbor Ride.
While Bobo and Robey are thankful for the awards marking their careers of service, don't expect their efforts to stop just because they are leaving political office, they both said.
"What else would I do with my time if I didn't stay active in public service?" Robey said.
"I plan to stay around, and I plan to use my voice," Bobo added.
The 39th Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards will be presented Friday, March 28 at noon at the Ten Oaks Ballroom, 5000 Signal Bell Lane, in Clarksville. Tickets range from $55 to $65 for individual members and nonmembers, , to $600 for a nonmember table of 10. For more information, go to acshoco.org or call 410-715-9545.