I've been thinking about … Oct. 19, 2016.
At 7 a.m. on that day, about 200 people gathered for breakfast at Martin's Westminster to honor some very special people: the winners of the Community Foundation of Carroll County's 2016 Philanthropists of the Year.
We have been doing this special event for 11 years now, but I think this year's winners are among the best examples of what the event is really about. I have maintained from the beginning that while we will always honor the individuals who write the big checks, (you know who you are and so does everyone else), these same individuals give of themselves as well.
I have witnessed first-hand one individual setting up tables and chairs for an event at his wife's church — not the first time he unloaded a truck and not the last either. There are reports of another of these special people installing a toilet, by himself, for a needy family and driving a truck into a hurricane-ravaged area to deliver needed supplies.
Spouses of these individuals give generously of their time and experience to organizations that need and appreciate them. They capture the essence of the reason for the Philanthropists of the Year. Such a family is this year's Legacy honoree, The Kahlert Foundation.
When asked, I have always maintained that philanthropy is not just money but also passion for a cause, dedication to an idea, and a well-worn habit of considering the needs of others and the giving your time in an effort to make your home community as good as it can be.
People ask me from time to time why not just one person, why do we honor different categories? The answer lies in the fact that there are many different levels of charity and different reasons people are motivated. Our nonprofit honoree this year, the GFWC Woman's Club of Westminster, is an origination that has existed for over 100 years in Carroll County, the ultimate giving circle. (People think the giving circle is a new idea.)
Our business honoree is Terry's Tags and Title. Now, we all know that there are good business reasons for companies to give, but in Carroll County our businesses are part of the fabric of the community and find causes that they will support with no thought of benefit to themselves. Such a person is Terry Smack at Terry's Tags and Title.
Our individual honoree this year is an extraordinary person who found his way to Carroll County a few years ago. John Staehlin wasted no time in gathering around himself like-minded engineers, thinkers and doers. They invent items that make the lives of people with disabilities better. At 86 years of age he still thinks," What's next, what's next, what's next?"
The other question I get is why do we honor a youth? They have not had a chance to develop a body of work, so why honor them? This is true to a certain extent. Our 2016 youth honoree, Diana Welliver, has a list of community service as long as your arm, as did her brother Daniel before her. Both these young people, as well as all those who were honored before them, come from a background of extraordinary parental example and provide an extraordinary example for their peers to follow. Devotion to community service and philanthropy, whether it is monetary or of the mind, is a lesson learned in the family.
God bless them all.
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Audrey Cimino is executive director of The Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.