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Rotarians pick WMC teacher as Citizen of the Year


WESTMINSTER -- Dr. Donald Rabush, president and founder of Target Inc. and a professor of education at Western Maryland College, was named the "Outstanding Citizen of the Year" for 1992 by the Westminster Rotary Club.

Rabush received the annual award in recognition of his many years of service to the community Wednesday evening at the Westminster Riding Club.

About 75 people, including family members and friends, looked on as a shocked Rabush accepted his award from Westminster Rotary Club President Stephen Chapin.

"I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that I was going to receive this award. I was totally stunned. I think that's what made it so wonderful," said the 52 year-old educator after the presentation.

"I don't believe that I personally deserve it. I got it because of Target, and it is really a labor of love for the 85 people who now work there. We have tremendous support."

Target Inc. is a private, not-for-profit organization in Westminster that supports people with developmental disabilities in their residential, recreational and vocational lives.

Nominees for the Rotary Club award were selected by a committee of six club members.

Suzanne Lee, public relations chairwoman for the Rotary Club, said Rabush was selected from about a dozen nominees.

"The committee developed a list of individuals from the county who they felt made a positive contribution to their community and showed strength and perseverance in making Carroll a good place to live," Lee explained.

Rabush received the award for his contributions in the field of special education and for the founding of Target Inc.

Rabush, who began teaching special education at Western Maryland College in 1973, founded Target Inc. in 1983 to provide a "living laboratory" for graduate students majoring in special education-human services.

Target offers graduate students the experience of working one-on-one with developmentally disabled individuals while earning their master's degrees.

"I realized that one of the real issues in community-based programs was that most managers had no training and there was about a 400 percent turnover in direct-care workers," Rabush said.

"I also recognized that there were problems with the way things were being run in community residences. That's a management and education problem. I thought we could do better, and now I think we have overcome that."

A native of Bergen County, N.J., Rabush graduated from Western Maryland College in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in English and in 1967 with a master's in education.

Rabush lives in Westminster with his wife, Carol. They have two sons, J. Keith and Mark.

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