If you've ever wondered what it takes to be one of the Beautiful People, consider how Patricia Grimes became one:
For more than five years she has talked to dozens of newly divorced, separated and widowed Carroll Countians, encouraging them into the fold of the local chapter of Parents Without Partners.
Every month during those years she has organized and moderated a three-session series of orientation talks for new members.
And there was the time last Thanksgiving when she hobbled around on crutches to supervise dinner for 120 despite a badly sprained knee.
For these efforts and more, she has just been selected as Carroll County's Most Beautiful Person, an annual award from the Carroll County government.
When she is asked about her volunteering efforts, Ms. Grimes is quick to give credit to others and talk about the benefits she's received from her work.
"I needed a family, and Parents Without Partners has been my family for the last five years now," she said.
"I've met a lot of nice people. Several have moved on, but I still keep in touch with them. I feel like they're all part of my family."
Ms. Grimes, who lives in Sykesville with her two teen-age sons, is the membership vice president. She mails information to answer queries about the group and talks to people interested in joining.
"When I find new people that really need to get out, I work on them," she said with a laugh.
Ms. Grimes also tries to connect each new person with a member who has been in the group for a long time. "They're friends who help them through the first steps of Parents Without Partners," she explained.
Since she joined the group in 1987, the membership has jumped from 17 to 220, and she shares credit for that. She mentions the efforts of chapter president Mary Hutchins and other volunteers.
Ms. Grimes organizes many of the social events, including the annual Thanksgiving dinner held two weekends before Thanksgiving.
"Last year I had a twisted knee, and I got volunteers to help me. I organized everybody, and they did the work for me, which was really nice.
"I hobbled around on my crutches and my knee brace, and sat down a bit of the time. But I had a lot of people that felt real sorry for me. They knew how much work I'd put into it, and I couldn't walk away from it."
Her oldest son, Frank, is a senior at South Carroll High School. He also goes a half-day each day to study electrical contracting at the county's vo-tech center in Westminster and works part time at a hardware store.
Her other son, Bill, just began his junior year at South Carroll
High and studied computer programming at the vo-tech center.
Ms. Grimes believes her Parents Without Partners membership has been good for her sons because of the number of family programs sponsored by the group and because they've gotten involved in her volunteer work.
"I think it's kind of kept my kids straight, being able to help other people," she said.
Ms. Grimes was born in Winfield. Her family moved to Sykesville when she was 12, and she has lived in the same house there for almost 30 years.
"This is where I've been for a long while," she said.
Mrs. Grimes is manager of the bakery at Super Fresh in Westminster and has a part-time job making wood crafts for Wood-N-Stuff, a local business.
On Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m., Ms. Grimes, along with all of the nominees for Carroll County's Most Beautiful Person, will be feted at a reception with the county commissioners at the County Office Building.
On Nov. 4, she and winners from other counties be recognized at a ceremony with Gov. William Donald Schaefer in Annapolis.
"It's been a really rewarding experience for me," Ms. Grimes said. "I've met a lot of nice people, and I feel like I've helped people.
"I like to see other people smile and have a good time."