Chamber of Commerce celebrates Hometown Heroes

This year, in addition to recognizing the incoming and outgoing members of the board of directors at their Charter Night dinner, the Reisterstown-Owings Mills-Glyndon Chamber of Commerce will celebrate hometown heroes.

The ROG Chamber of Commerce Charter Night will be held from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 20 at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 1726 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. At the event, the Chamber will introduce their new board members and honor the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company, Franklin Police Department and the Community Crisis Center. In addition, the Chamber will introduce their new position of Chamber president, replacing the Chamber's executive director position formerly held by Brian Ditto.

The Chamber will present the organizations with a plaque and allow a representative from each to speak for 10 minutes about a topic of their choice. In addition to the fire company and Franklin police precinct, the event will recognize the Community Crisis Center, a homeless prevention agency the Chamber has supported in the past.

Kirsten Beck, co-chair of the events committee said the idea behind the event came out of wanting to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company.

"We want to reach out to the community more than we have in the past," Beck said. "We thought it was important, that if we recognized the local firefighters, we should reach out to other organizations that make a difference."

Dr. Ed Hartman, executive director of the Community Crisis Center, said the Chamber of Commerce has included them in several fundraisers and makes an annual donation to the center.

"The Chamber is super supportive of the mission of the Community Crisis Center," Hartman said. "We were elated to be celebrated among the firemen and the police. That's a high honor."

Rachel Heird, co-chair of the events committee, said they have always come up with a theme for the Charter Night. In the past, she said themes have been chosen based on the interests of the president. Past board President Brian DeLeonardo held a "Ravens and Orioles" themed event where Cory Redding of the Ravens emphasized the importance of community and charity. Heird said when she was president, they held a "Wizard of Oz" Charter Night.

"The main goal of the event has always been about the changing of the guard, but it's nice to add something more," Heird said. "They don't always have a deeper meaning, sometimes they can just be fun."

In addition to the honoring of hometown heroes, they will introduce the new Chamber president. The president position is the key focus of a restructuring plan the Chamber has undergone over the past year. Beck said the executive director position that has been eliminated was more of an administrative position, working to enact the plans of the board of directors. The new president will have the freedom to create and organize their own plans, while working closely with the board.

Reid was part of the interviewing process for the new position. She said she feels the board is very happy with the decision. The new president will be revealed at the event.

"I think the individual we chose has the right level of experience," Reid said. "They're a hometown person with a nice mix of community, non-profit and business experience."

Between the celebration of hometown heroes and introduction of the new president, Beck said she hopes this event will attract people from outside of the Chamber.

"This seemed like a perfect venue to launch everything at once," Beck said. "With so much transition it's almost like we have a clean slate."

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