Name: Chuck Aaron of Columbia.
Hobbies and other activities: Gardening, photography, music, computers, writing and handiwork.
Organization's Comments: Under Chuck Aaron's guidance, Grassroots is uprooting its old system of organizing information with files and bound directories, and transplanting it with computers and data bases. "It brings us to the modern world," said Andrea Ingram, executive director.
"I think this is unusual as a volunteer project. Usually you hire someone to do this. We are relying on him for a central activity. He has thrown himself into this heart and soul," Ms. Ingram said.
The project started with his enthusiasm, and then he pulled together resources in the community, Ms. Ingram said. "It's not just what he does, it's the spirit with which he does it. He is a wonderful person. We are lucky he is interested in Grassroots."
Volunteer's Comments: Mr. Aaron said he first started helping Grassroots by giving money, then by doing grocery shopping and carpentry for the shelter. A year later he trained to become a hot line volunteer. "I noticed the amount of paperwork was tremendous," he said. That's when he decided to put his computer know-how to work, and to try and help Grassroots dig out of the paper mound. "I started the computer project to automate the system.
"We used to put people on hold to dig through the book [of referral information]. Now we can find information in less than a minute," Mr. Aaron said.
He started by collecting computer donations from local manufacturers, refurbishing the equipment, installing software and writing computer programs. He is also showing Grassroots how to use the computers for word processing, electronic mail, scheduling and budgeting.
Now that his nine-month computer project is nearly completed, Mr. Aaron said he is looking forward to spending more time working directly with people on the telephone hot line. "There is nothing I do in life as satisfying as working on the hot line."
About Mr. Aaron: Chuck Aaron, 48, is vice president for Professional Services for CSX Corp. in Baltimore. Mr. Aaron and his wife, Sue, have lived in Columbia for 21 years. They have two daughters, Amanda, 21, and Rebecca, 19.
To make a nomination or receive a nomination form, call Jill L. Kubatko at 715-2813 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may be sent by fax to the office at 715-2816.