When Terry Smack first opened her business, Terry's Tag and Title, out of a 900 square-foot basement she called "the dungeon," she had no idea that over the next 13 years, the business would grow to incorporate six locations throughout Carroll and the surrounding counties, and become a pillar of the business and giving communities.
On Wednesday, Smack and Terry's Tag and Title will be honored in the business category at the Community Foundation of Carroll County's 11th annual Philanthropists of the Year Awards. Nonprofit, individual, youth and legacy award-winners will also be recognized at the event.
Smack said she was excited and surprised to be nominated, and didn't realize that anybody had noticed her donations over the year. When she first opened her business in 2003, Smack said becoming a philanthropic force wasn't first on her mind. It wasn't until she helped out and sponsored several car shows that she realized the effect her business could have on the community.
"I was starting to recognize that as my business grew, I couldn't have done that without the community or the employees that I have in the area," Smack said. "The community has a choice. They can go to [a Motor Vehicle Administration office] — we have a full-service MVA in the area -- and get this done. They instead choose to come here instead, and pay a small service fee. That's a huge thing for me."
According to Mel Blizzard Jr. who nominated Smack, she has been a vital part in the Carroll business community, working with the Chamber of Commerce, Sykesville Business Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Historical Society of Carroll County.
"She's done work to not just support the business growth in Carroll County, but to help out others as well," Blizzard said. "She gives donations to fire companies, churches, schools, arts, law enforcement and more. You name an organization, it's likely she's donated to it."
Despite the number of groups she's donated to, Smack said, one of her proudest partnerships has been with Carroll Hospital. In addition to serving on the hospital's board, she donates annually to the hospital, and provides a portion of her earnings each month to the Willian E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center.
"They saved my mother's life and they saved my fiance's life, after that I had to give back," Smack said. "A lot of people talk bad about the hospital, but all I can think of is how much good they've done. Every single one of my grandkids were born in that hospital. Every one of my kids were born in that hospital."
Smack said it's vital to support the community that supports you. She said she always makes an effort to shop in the community, be it a local gas station to a store on Main Street in Westminster.
"You have to be able to look these people in the eye when you go shopping," Smack said. "You need to support everyone who lives here. It means something."
In addition to her local work, Smack is also one of the founders and served as the first president of the Maryland Vehicle Titling Association, an organization which serves to educate and support ethical titling practices. She said the association came about due to the explosion of titling companies in the area.
"When I started this business, there were only about 40 license and tag places. Currently there are about 400," Smack said. "Unfortunately there's not as much monitoring by the MVA as there needs to be. There are some shady people in this business, and I got sick and tired of it."
The association, made up of tag and title businesses, sets guidelines for the participating members. She said it's important to do something that helps monitor fellow tag and titlers. Blizzard said he's proud of the work Smack has done throughout the county and the state.
"She would do anything to support the betterment and the enrichment of Carroll County," Blizzard said. "She realizes where she comes from and wants to give back. It's a total win-win situation."