While many people may think of philanthropy as donating a large sum of money to a cause, it can take many forms. Merriam-Webster defines philanthropy as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.”

“… People that volunteer their time week after week after week and don't even think about it. They just do it. And that's what makes this community so extraordinary,” said Audrey Cimino, the executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County.


“That’s philanthropy.”

And that is reflected in this year’s Philanthropist of the Year winners, who will be honored later this month by the Community Foundation.

Harold Robertson III, an 86-year-old Smallwood resident and the winner of the Individual award, was nominated for countless hours over more than 45 years serving on volunteer boards of three cementaries where his duties, among other things, including documenting more than 5,000 grave sites in Carroll County.

Lynn Wheeler, the outgoing executive director of the Carroll County Public Library system, who is retiring in November, will be honored as the Nonprofit award winner on behalf of the library organization, but also for her many volunteer hours on various boards. Wheeler’s work in making the library system “an integral part of the technology ecosystem in Carroll County … offer[ing] everyone in our community access and an introduction to various technologies,” was critical in the library’s transformation from a place to borrow books to what it is today, according to Jen Bishop, the library’s online services and emerging technology supervisor.

Sixteen-year-old Jordan Costley a junior at Westminster High School, is the Youth winner. For her, philanthropy is being involved with her school, her church and the county’s NAACP organization. She has helped to raise money for youth mission trips for Strawbridge United Methodist Church in New Windsor and is the president of the Stand Up Club at her high school, which puts on the annual Unity Day and culture festival at Westminster High, and provides a safe environment for students who have been bullied.

For the late Howard E. Koontz III, the Legacy winner, philanthropy was a lifetime of service through the Westminster Rotary Club, much like his father and his father before him. Jim Lightner, who nominated him, called him a “consummate Rotarian,” who noted Koontz was a great leader and role model for young Rotarians, even though he never officially took a leadership role, declining serving a president of the organization multiple times. “We try to say a good Rotarian tries never to say no and to my knowledge Howard never said no,” Lightner said.

These are the characteristics of a true philanthropist. And anyone can do it. It doesn’t take a lot of money, just a willingness to help and in a variety of ways. As Robertson told us: “Figure out what needs to be done, what you’re interested in and what you’re qualified to help [with], but do it.”

The 13th annual Carroll County Philanthropists of the Year awards will be held at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Martin’s Westminster. Tickets are $60. To purchase tickets, or for more information, contact Jacie Mathias Jones at the Community Foundation of Carroll County at 410-876-5505, ext. 102.