SIX YEARS ago, Dayton resident Mary Weisman traveled to a large Baltimore hospital, where she was scheduled for an operation.
Trying to find the way to the surgery admitting office, Weisman and her husband, Earl, became hopelessly lost in the endless hallways and corridors.
The Weismans were rescued by a hospital attendant, but the memory of that day remained.
When Mary Weisman read in the newspaper that Howard County General Hospital needed help with a new hospitality program, she volunteered immediately.
"I wanted to make visiting the hospital easier for patients who often are frightened and need a little reassurance," she said.
At first, she escorted patients from the admitting office to the operating room. She also gave tours to expectant parents and to people with special needs or those requiring individual attention.
For the past five years, she worked at the hospital's information desk, answering telephones and assisting visitors.
Debbie Daskaloff, former director of volunteer services, praised Weisman's work.
"Mary has been a wonderful addition to the hospital," Daskaloff said. "She is so pleasant and so capable."
Recently, Weisman's status changed: she became a paid receptionist in the office of Howard Hospital Foundation, work that she also finds fulfilling.
The foundation is the development office for Howard County General Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Woodbine residents Joann and Donald Miles also volunteer at the hospital.
Together, during more than 10 years, the Mileses have accumulated almost 10,000 volunteer hours.
Donald Miles, who works in surgery two days each week, was the first male president of the hospital's Volunteer Auxiliary. His wife assists nurses in the recovery room. Both find great rewards in their work.
"Every day is a new experience for me," Donald Miles said.
Howard County General has a number of openings for volunteers. They are needed to help staff the hospital's information desk, and to assist customers in the Right Touch Gift Shop in the main lobby.
The hospital is recruiting volunteers to staff its consignment shop, Rave Reviews, in Hickory Ridge Village Center.
The shop is operated by the Volunteer Auxiliary. Proceeds benefit the Children's Care Center.
Information or an application: 410-740-7980.
Happy hound owners
You may have thought that to belong to a 4-H Club, it was necessary to live on a farm with horses, cows and pigs.
Happy Hounds 4-H Club was founded 13 years ago to teach children about responsible dog ownership, and the proper care and showing of dogs.
Members range in age from 8 to 18.
Meetings are at 7: 30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month.
In warmer weather, the group meets at Howard County Fairgrounds, where members learn "fitting and showing" -- the art of showing a dog to its best advantage. During the winter, the group meets at members' homes.
You needn't own a show-quality dog to become a member.
Mixed breed, or "designer" dogs -- as the group's leader, Sandy Melichar, calls them -- are acceptable.
Melichar has been involved in 4-H activities for many years. She said 4-H groups have changed and expanded during that time.
"When I was a young 4-H member in Anne Arundel County, the girls learned cooking and sewing skills, and the boys worked on farming projects," she said.
Today, 4-H clubs have expanded to include computer science, photography, ecology, public speaking and community service, Melichar said.
Happy Hounds 4-H is the only club in Howard County for dog owners, but Melichar said that no matter the focus of the 4-H organization, "It's a wonderful opportunity for a child to take something that they really love, work with it and learn responsibility and many other life skills."
Information: Sandy Melichar, 410-988-9722.
Glenwood Middle School PTSA will hold the second part of its speaker series, which is designed to improve communication between parents and students.
Peggy Schultz, a county pupil personnel worker, will discuss "Communicating with Your Teen about Sexuality" at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in the media center.
Glenwood Middle parents may bring their children, who can participate in an Open Gym.
Supervised child care will be available for younger siblings.
Congratulations go to the Glenwood Middle School students selected for the All-County Gifted and Talented Middle School Band.
Byron Asher, Lindsay Buffington, Sarah Black, Laurie Grimm, David Stepp, Linas Vaskys, Brendan Wise and Mike Deegan have begun rehearsing with the band for a performance in early spring.
About 70 students are selected from among the 300 to 400 young musicians who try out.
Preparing for spring
If these freezing days of January make you long for spring, consider registering for the Master Gardener Training Program offered by Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
New and experienced gardeners will learn about horticultural methods, including vegetable gardening; plant, insect and disease problems; composting; and other environmentally friendly practices.
Classes at the Cooperative Extension office in Ellicott City begin Jan. 25.
The course includes two three-hour morning sessions each week through March 30.
The cost is $100.
Registration will be accepted until tomorrow.
Information: Georgia Eacker, 410-313-1913.
Court of honor
Boy Scout Troop 737 in Clarksville held its Winter Court of Honor last month.
Scouts who earned Merit badges included David Borys, Russell Bumgarner, Adam Corbett, Rod Gaither, Ted Hartman, Randall Mazzarino, Joey Mettle, Chris Plumley, Patrick Roswell, Adrian White, Marty Winters, and Dan and David DeRemigis.
Western Howard County Senior Center has joined in partnership with the new Triumph Health and Fitness Center on Carrs Mill Road to offer an exercise program for people ages 55 and older.
Participants will learn to use circuit training, treadmills, recumbent bicycles and free weights.
Each participant will be paired with a student from Glenelg High School who will help them use the machines.
Classes, which began this week, will be held from 2: 30 p.m. to 3: 30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays until Feb. 24.
The cost is $16.
Information or registration: 410-313-5440.
Pub Date: 1/07/99