For nearly 40 years, Marcus "Lee" and Louna Primm, of Westminster, have contributed their time, energy and money to different organizations in Carroll County.
For the Primms' dedication to serving their community, they are being awarded the Family Philanthropist of the Year Award. The Community Foundation of Carroll County will honor the Primms and winners in five other categories at the ninth annual Philanthropists of the Year ceremony at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Portico of St. John Catholic Church in Westminster.
The Primms came to Carroll County in 1974, both working for Carroll County Bank & Trust, an institution that heavily promoted volunteerism and charitable giving, Lee said.
"Louna and I got involved in community activities through the bank and we loved it, and we just never looked back," Lee said. "It was one thing after another."
It was through his work at the bank that Lee became involved with McDaniel College, he said, and he continued to work in fundraising for the college after retiring, including raising $9 million for the construction of a new stadium.
Lee said the college has a strong network of alumni and supporters, and with the lingering recession, he made it a priority to assure school patrons that the new stadium would not be built at the expense of the operating budget.
"When you work with an institution that has a very strong academic orientation but that wants to support athletic programs, it's important that the people that are involved with supporting the college are assured that the very first obligation is met completely, and that's the academic obligation," Lee said.
As soon as the stadium campaign ended, Lee, who serves on the Carroll Hospital Center board of directors, took over leadership of the hospital's $22 million campaign to support the William E. Kahlert Regional Cancer Center and Tevis Center for Wellness, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month.
Lee admitted that sum had been a bit intimidating, but it was what the hospital had determined was needed for the proposed expansion.
"Fundraising in the county had never seen a goal like that; but this is the hospital, and the community is a wonderfully giving community and they support their hospital," Lee said. "So we decided we would set the goal where we needed it, and then go out and work with the community; and then sure enough, as expected, they contributed those dollars — plus another million."
Leslie Simmons, president and CEO of Carroll Hospital Center, said Lee's leadership was phenomenal.
"He did that with his energy and passion for this community — it drove him — and he was able to recruit very prominent members of our community," Simmons said. "He and Louna both have such a passion for our community; and they're so well connected, that they were just able to bring that passion and that focus and support. And I really truly believe without them, we would have never raised $23 million and we would never be achieving the goals that we're achieving today."
Ethan Seidel, former vice president of administration and finance at McDaniel who is the currently the chairman of the economics and business department and outgoing chairman of the board at Carroll Hospital Center, said that what he admires about Lee is his ability to take on campaigns that last several years and to sustain an energy in those projects.
"His dedication is contagious. When he makes a commitment, he really follows through: He puts everything into it," Seidel said. "The way Lee approaches it —that kind of effort and commitment — it gets other people inspired to join in."
In addition to McDaniel and the hospital, Lee has served in a leadership capacity in many other organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of Carroll County, the Westminster Rotary Club, MS Carroll County board, United Way Carroll County Committee, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, Historical Society of Carroll County, Community Foundation of Carroll County, Boy Scouts of America, American Cancer Society and more.
Louna has an equally long, if not longer, list of organizations on which she has served on the board or as president: Carroll Lutheran board of trustees, Carroll Community College Foundation board of directors, Carroll County YMCA of Central Maryland, United Way, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, Carroll Hospice and more.
She's also put her financial and business background to use toward promoting economic development throughout Carroll, serving on the board of directors for the Warfield Development Corp., the Greater Westminster Development Corp., the Carroll County Economic Development Committee and even the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority.
Many of these positions came about simply by being asked to help, she said.
"As I discovered what was going on in the community, I had an interest, and in many circumstances because you get to know people, it was 'Louna, please help us,' or 'Please become a part of [this],' " she said.
"The resources I think you can bring into organizations is always an interesting dynamic," Louna said.
Arnold "Skip" Amass, a previous recipient of the Philanthropist of the Year Award, said he nominated the Primms because he couldn't think of a more deserving couple.
"From the moment I have known either one of them, they have been unbelievable contributors to the community, both with their time, with their talent and obviously with their financial resources," Amass said. "Both of them have just put their heart and soul into making Carroll County a better place."
Both Lee and Louna expressed surprise when they learned that they would receive the 2014 Family Philanthropist of the Year Award.
"I look at the many great people here in Carroll County that do phenomenal work and have the ability to give their time and dollars and support, and Lee and I can give as much as we can," Louna said. "But it's an honor to be considered, because the people who have received this acknowledgment prior to us are really just incredibly wonderful, giving people."
Lee also expressed humble thanks over receiving the award.
"It's the kind of thing you never think about," Lee said. "You go out and do the kind of things that you love to do, for a community that you love, but you don't expect to be thanked — that's not part of the equation —so when they do, it feels pretty good."
Philanthropist of the Year series
For nine years, the Community Foundation of Carroll County has presented the Philanthropists of the Year awards to individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits and youths who best represent the giving spirit of Carroll County. Each of this year's winners will be profiled in the Times leading up to the awards breakfast on Wednesday.