County Executive Allan Kittleman and state Sen. Guy Guzzone will share the Howard County Community Action Council's 2017 Humanitarian Award for their work to help secure a new location for the Howard County Food Bank earlier this year.
The two will be honored at this year's 22nd annual Community Action Council's 2017 Holland Awards Dinner on Oct. 19.
"These two individuals put politics and partisanship aside and came together to give support to a cause that helps the most vulnerable individuals in our community," said Community Action Council president Bita Dayhoff. "And we felt a sense of responsibility to acknowledge that partnership and bring light to it."
The Community Action Council is a nonprofit dedicated to serving low-income families in Howard County and decreasing poverty in the area. The group gives its annual Humanitarian Award to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to serving the most vulnerable in the community.
The annual awards dinner is named after local activist the Rev. John Holland, who served as president of the local chapter of the NAACP in the late 1950s, and served on the Community Action Council's board of directors for 17 years beginning in the late 1970s. Holland died in 1987.
Dayhoff said that it is unusual for the council to give the award to two individuals, but that it was the right choice given both Guzzone and Kittleman's advocacy for the project. Guzzone helped to lobby for funding for the new site's building at the state level, and Kittleman championed the project within the county, according to Dayhoff. Both men have also volunteered at the food bank, she said.
The county's new food bank opened in January in Columbia, relocating from its previous 10-year location off Route 108. Since the opening of the new location, the number of new residents visiting the food bank has increased by 20 percent, according to Dayhoff.
In fiscal 2017, the food bank served 27,000 individuals, and distributed 650,000 pounds of food to residents suffering from food insecurity. More than 22,000 Howard County residents are food insecure, according to data from Feeding America.
Dayhoff said that the project could not have been successfully completed without the help of the two leaders.
"With Allan, his continuing support for CAC has manifested into volunteering at the food bank, adopting a Head Start family during the holidays and having an open door policy for our organization where there is a willingness to always help, no matter how small or large of a challenge we are facing," she said. "That sense of embracing an organization that supports low income families really embodies the spirit of Reverend Holland."