Later this week, the Community Foundation of Carroll County will present the 15th annual Carroll County Philanthropists of the Year Awards program. The event annually recognizes adults, youth, families, businesses and nonprofits that exemplify the spirit of giving through consistent, generous levels of financial support along with volunteer leadership for community programs and projects.
The Community Foundation is an umbrella organization that facilitates philanthropic activities across Carroll County. The foundation, established in 1994, manages about $8 million in endowments, operating funds, scholarships and programs, for nonprofit organizations. The foundation provides the legal and financial underpinnings to more than 320 projects, which are referred to as funds. The foundation manages the various administrative matters so the funds themselves can concentrate on making a difference in the community.
According to information provided by the Community Foundation spokesperson Sharon Tillman, the Class of 2023 “What Keeps You Growing” recognizes achievements in four categories: Living Legacy; Rooted in the Community; Rising Star; and the fund nominated as BFF.
This year the event will be held at the Carroll Arts Center, at 91 E. Main St., Westminster, on Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Community Foundation’s Audrey Cimino Legacy Fund.
According to Tom Beyard, vice president and a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation, the foundation will honor four residents and organizations from the community, including Diane Jones, who will be honored with the Living Legacy Award for positively impacting the lives of thousands of county children through music.
Action for Kindness will be given the Rising Star Award for promoting the message of kindness through words and art in the community with its “Be Kind” theme.
Rita’s Closet and the Rita Medeiros Scholarship will be given the Rooted in the Community Award for their work in supporting young women in need who embody Rita’s spirit; and former Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick will be given the Best Friend Forever Award for his support of the Ellsworth Cemetery project and the committee’s restoration efforts.
Jones is the artistic director emeritus of the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County. According to Tillman, Jones “has positively impacted the lives of thousands of Carroll County children through music, performance and travel. Her legacy lives on through the many alumni, volunteers and current members of Children’s Chorus.” Jones is an “adjunct faculty at McDaniel College. As artistic director of Children’s Chorus of Carroll County, she established the chorus’s structure.”
The winner of the Rooted in the Community Award, Rita’s Closet and the Rita Medeiros Scholarship, was established in 2012. Tillman reports that “more than $190,000 has been raised by Rita’s Closet. This year, eight $1,000 scholarships were awarded to young women who embody the spirit of Rita Medeiros; one at each of the county’s public high schools.
“Even though Rita Medeiros passed away at the young age of 16, her light shines on through Rita’s Closet. Rita had just purchased her prom dress from DeMario Bridal and Formal when she died in a vehicle crash with her dress still in the back of the car. Tamara Medeiros, Rita’s mother, was so proud of the many lives Rita touched and hoped to continue that with the scholarship fund and Rita’s Closet… Rita’s Closet gives away free dresses to those that can’t afford them and sells gently used gowns at a discounted price to fund the scholarships.”
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Action for Kindness has earned the Rising Star Award. Tina Smetana Thomas and Eric Hyde Mille spearhead the Infinite Love Project, which serves as an umbrella organization for Action for Kindness.
According to Tillman, “Action for Kindness supports individuals, groups, and organizations with funding for activities that share and promote the message of kindness through words and art in the community.” The project’s ubiquitous and omnipresent ‘Be Kind’ signs have become a symbol for Westminster and Carroll County.
Dominick was nominated by the Ellsworth Cemetery Fund advisory group to be the recipient of the Best Friend Forever. According to the advisory group, “For over two years, Joe has been supportive of the committee’s restoration efforts. Specifically, his company, Gauge Media, donated a logo design and complete website for the cemetery. Because of their work, there is a location to share all the information and research, as well as stories, videos and photos of the restoration.”
Dominick “helped to secure a $1,000 ‘Hey Westminster’ grant that was instrumental in securing another grant. The Hey Westminster grant funded and produced a high-quality video about the cemetery and restoration efforts.”
Dominick “suggested applying for annexation to the City of Westminster, highlighting that the annexation would allow Ellsworth Cemetery to join the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. Joe introduced the committee to attorney Kelly Shafer and surveyor Marshall Green for the project who both offered their services pro bono. Joe has been consistently helpful, including as an advisor, and has truly served as this Fund’s Best Friend Forever!”
For more information about the Philanthropists of the Year event or the Community Foundation of Carroll County, go to wearecarroll.org or https://bit.ly/42T8wEg. Buy your tickets in advance or they will be available the night of the event.
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at email@example.com.