The Volunteer: Rich Dobry of Pasadena is a co-founder of the Harvest for the Hungry program, a year-round effort to keep the shelves of the Maryland Food Bank filled.
Mr. Dobry is a broker with RE/MAX 100. He has been an executive with Coldwell Banker, past president of the Anne JTC Arundel Association of Realtors and dean of the Graduate Realtors Institute.
He has received wide recognition for his efforts on behalf of Harvest for the Hungry.
Mr. Dobry says he learned the importance of sharing when, as a boy, he would help his father pack and deliver food baskets to needy residents near his family's delicatessen in the Highlandtown section of Baltimore.
Volunteer's comment: "This [program] is unique to Maryland. The U.S. Post office has been trying to get this going in all the communities. They started that about four years ago.
"I had about 800 agents in 1987, when I ran the Baltimore division of Coldwell Banker in Baltimore. I wanted to get my agents involved in the community. Catholic Charities was in need of help at the time, so I said 'Let's raise food.'
"In two weeks we raised about $65,000 worth of food. The next year we did $200,000.
"When I switched companies, I took the program with me.
"I went to the Real Estate Board. I got Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford and Cecil to support if during the Christmas holidays. . . . That took off.
"Larry Adam, my partner, wasn't satisfied with that. We started to go to Esskay, and they provided us with hams. We wound up with the Girl Scouts supporting a badge program for Harvest for the Hungry. The steel workers in Dundalk provided tractor-trailer loads of food, . . . It's just grown till we had over $3 million last year.
"Most of the food goes directly to the Maryland Food Bank. . . . it distributes to all the counties. We raise a little money. I found I can ask for food and get it. I ask for money and I don't get it.
"I do a Poplar Ridge Food drive in Pasadena, and I get 200 to 300 bags of food on a weekend.
"What we've tried to do, and it's working, is don't just collect at Christmas, but get a group working every month, 12 months a year . . . and it's been working very well. That's our goal.
"I've been trying to get the Maryland Association of Realtors to endorse this, as one of the community projects . . . but there's a lot of competition. That would be our goal, to get everybody in real estate involved."
About the program: Individuals, groups or companies wanting information about donating food or sponsoring a food drive, as well as anyone in need of food, can contact Mr. Dobry at 437-0289.
"Volunteer Spotlight" is compiled by Kevin Harrison. To recommend someone, call the Anne Arundel Bureau, 315-8911, any time or fax information to 315-8916 or mail it to: The Sun for Anne Arundel, 8131 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena 21122.