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Q&A: Habitat for Humanity board member Sharon Tillman discusses bed and breakfast, ReStore

Sharon Tillman is a jack-of-all-trades.

Tillman, a Taneytown resident, owns and operates Georges on York Bed & Breakfast in Taneytown with her husband, Chris. They raised their children in White Hall, where Chris is from prior to moving to Carroll County in March 2017.

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Tillman has a diverse professional background in communications, strategic marketing, public relations, and advertising. She graduated from University of Delaware as an art major and earned a certificate in Digital and Social Media from Carroll Community College in 2017.

“Continuing education is critical,” Tillman said. “Especially in the ever-changing field of strategic marketing and communications.”

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Tillman also serves as a board member for Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County and is the volunteer marketing coordinator for the organization’s first, which opened at the site of the former Westminster Antique Mall on March 6.

Q: What is your day-to-day schedule like and how do you balance it?

A: Every day is different so I rely on lists and my calendar to keep track of day-to-day life! Flexibility and boundaries are key for keeping things in check, although that is much easier said than done. While working from home has its advantages, when home is also your business it can become overwhelming sometimes. I like to go and see clients so I can get that important change of scenery. With the weather getting nicer, I will take a few hours and work outside either on the laptop or in the gardens. One of the things I love about performing weddings is that they help me re-center and see the absolute joy in life.

Finding time to relax can be hard. But one advantage of owning a B&B is having to know the best places to eat, visit, experience and explore, so that our guests will have a great stay. Chris and I go out and do market research — dining at local restaurants, checking out what’s new at the area’s craft beverage makers, checking out shops, and taking in experiences. We get to meet the amazing people who offer all of these wonderful things, and our guests benefit from our experience!

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Q: What encouraged you to want to start a bed and breakfast and how many years has it been in business?

A: Owning a bed and breakfast has been a dream of ours since we were newlyweds. Chris and I always knew this would be our second career, not retirement, but part of our life’s journey. We love to travel and stay in B&Bs. It’s such a great way to experience a community, and the stay becomes part of the trip. We wanted to be part of a profession that offers hospitality on a personal level. And we get to cook for people, which we both love, and to share this beautiful property with people from all over the world. We have hosted guests from as close as Westminster, Md., and as far away as South Africa and Australia.

We purchased the Baumgardner House in Taneytown in May 2017. After a year-long renovation to convert the home into a modern, elegant inn, featuring five guest rooms and locally-sourced breakfast, Georges on York B&B opened its doors in July 2018. In addition to our guest rooms, we also host intimate weddings and elopements, bridal and baby showers, rehearsal dinners, and more. Our art gallery, Gallery TEN, features local art and artists.

Chris Tillman, Sharon Tillman and photographer Steve Aprile pose. The Tillmans own Georges on York inn in Taneytown. Inside it is Gallery Ten, an art studio, where Aprile's work has been displayed.
Chris Tillman, Sharon Tillman and photographer Steve Aprile pose. The Tillmans own Georges on York inn in Taneytown. Inside it is Gallery Ten, an art studio, where Aprile's work has been displayed. (Lyndi McNulty / Courtesy photo)

Q: What was the process like to opening the county’s first ReStore and how rewarding is it to see it finally open?

A: It was an absolute joy to open the county’s first ReStore! I am still ecstatic over the response from the community when we opened our doors on Saturday, March 6. To see more than 125 people lined up on a chilly March morning, waiting to shop and support the mission of Habitat for Humanity with their purchases, proved we are meant to be here. It has been a long process: from choosing the right site, to working through 2020 and all its challenges, and transforming 433 Hahn Road into Maryland’s second largest ReStore has taken so many dedicated people, and I want to thank them all and tell them, “Bravo!”

Having been through this process with Georges on York B&B, I know first hand that finishing the renovation and opening your doors is really a beginning, not an end. You have to celebrate your accomplishments, but then the work begins to serve the community, bring in donations, and keep the shelves stocked with amazing products.

Q: How do you hope the county’s first ReStore brings the community together?

A: As more people walk through the doors of the ReStore, more people learn about what Habitat for Humanity does and how we help communities grow. The Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County staff, board and volunteers are all dedicated to each and every person across Carroll County. Housing is the priority — and donating to and shopping at ReStore are ways we can all help our neighbors and those living in the shadows obtain affordable and quality housing. That is the mission. I have not been a Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County volunteer for very long, but having met our homeowners, and witnessed the hard work of our volunteers to bring this store online, I know in my heart that Carroll County is already better for it. And, with a new duplex home in the works in Taneytown, the future is bright for more families.

Q: What does volunteering mean to you and how do you use that experience in your everyday life?

A: Volunteering means building a stronger community, and working with people all moving in the same direction for a common goal. I am often changed for the better by the experience, too. The people I meet when I volunteer are such a gift. There is no better way to build a stronger community than to build strong relationships.

When I volunteer, I like to help with marketing or promotion – something within my area of expertise. Volunteering helps me grow and learn as a person and a professional, while helping solve a problem or bring about change. It also keeps my skills honed and allows me to stretch my creativity – especially if the project is something different for me. Saying yes to volunteering on the ReStore was a ‘no-brainer’ in part because it is retail marketing, which is different from much of my current work.

I look forward to volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County house build soon, too! I think I can put some of that renovation experience to good use and help families make their home here in Taneytown.

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