The late Sylvia Canon dedicated her life to social service in Carroll County and
Sylvia Canon Haines dedicated her life to social service in Carroll County, founding Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. in 1987, and in many ways incubating The Shepherd's Staff and the Community Foundation.
Canon Haines died on Aug. 5 at 78 years old. Now the Community Foundation is honoring Canon Haines' dedication to serving her community by presenting her posthumously with its Philanthropist of the Year Legacy Award, which will be presented at Carroll County's 10th annual Philanthropists of the Year awards on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
"It was really a no-brainer for us since Sylvia was involved in so much her entire life," said Jaclyn Mathias-Jones, a program manager at the Community Foundation. "Being a nonprofit ourselves and knowing what she stood for and all the things that she advocated in the county for, it was just a nice way to honor her and her family, and her legacy in Carroll County."
Canon Haines' son, Tom Canon, said Carroll will long feel the effects of his mother's legacy.
"Mom had a very unique way of identifying a need here in Carroll County, then assembling the right people and the right resources to address that need," Canon said.
Canon said his mother's greatest skill was her ability to find people with a good heart who were looking to help. He said she was able to take their talents and match them with need in the community.
Canon Haines was working at the Carroll County Department of Social Services in the mid 1980s when she left to found HSP, which would focus on homeless women and children, creating a shelter for them and filling the gaps where the Department of Social Services could not reach.
"She recognized need when others did not," Cindy Parr, the former director of HSP, said after Canon Haines' death in August. "I think that was her gift."
HSP began as a program providing shelter to homeless women and children, but it soon expanded through: the Neighbors in Need Holiday Program that brought Christmas gifts to low-income families for years; a child care food program; emergency energy assistance; and more shelters, including the cold weather shelter. According to acting HSP Director Joyce Tierney, the organization has more than 20 programs today.
But Canon Haines was not content to just grow HSP. Along the way she helped incubate both The Shepherd's Staff and the Community Foundation, housing each of them at HSP in their infancy until they grew large enough to move out on their own, according to Audrey Cimino, executive director of the Community Foundation.
After Canon Haines retired from HSP in 2001, the Sylvia Canon Humanitarian Award was established in her honor at the Community Services Council. The award is given annually to an individual in recognition of their work in the human services field in Carroll County. But Mathias-Jones said the Philanthropist of the Year award is a special opportunity to honor Canon Haines directly.
"She should have been honored so many times, but she was just so humble about everything that she did," Mathias-Jones said. "After she passed away and we were reading her obituary, we realized, 'Oh my gosh, there's no question in our mind who should be the Legacy Award this year.' "