Havre de Grace would be a much different place without Quynh Budzynski, of the Boys and Girls Club of Harford County, and Don Osman, founder of Havre de Grace High School's SMILES program, both of whom were given proclamations and a key to the city by Mayor Wayne Dougherty on Monday.
Osman was the 166th person to be entered into the Harford County Public Schools Hall of Fame, while Budzynski was recognized for serving the city on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club.
"Your dedication is so entrenched in our city and in our youth, and the many other projects you participated in," Dougherty told Osman, who had a number of supporters in the audience and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett was in the audience to show his support, as Bennett's wife, Elaine, was taking over Osman's long-held role as leader of SMILES.
"I am not sure how to say it. You give so much and you continue to give so much," Dougherty told Osman, who launched SMILES in 1984 and has been teaching since the 1960s until his retirement.
The mayor called SMILES "one of the most important things that has happened to Havre de Grace."
Osman thanked the many people who made his work possible and said he did not expect the crowd that showed up at the city council meeting Monday.
"I am a very lucky person," he said. "I am the sum of many parts, and some of those parts are here this evening… I could have been in Bel Air [High School], could have been in North Harford, could have been in Fallston, but I was fortunate enough to end up in Havre de Grace, and for that I am forever thankful."
He mentioned receiving an anonymous letter from a student that included two poems and a short story that was especially meaningful to him as a teacher.
"I think I know who she is and I will track her down," he said.
Dougherty also told Budzynski, of the Boys and Girls Club, he was deeply moved by her personal story of coming from South Vietnam to Guam and being sponsored to live in the United States.
"You came from a family that knew how valuable life was," he said, adding her work shows her "dedication to the youth of our community and how important it is to give part of yourself to what you believe in."
"You are an example of dedication, but also giving back," he continued.
More recognition and surprises
The evening was filled with awards instead of legislative business.
Lori Maslin, known for organizing the Seafood Festival, seemed surprised to receive the Mid-Atlantic Region Special Recognition from the U.S. Commerce Association.
Maslin said the event is made possible not just by her, but by her husband, employees and Haven House, Inc.
"It's a community effort," she said.
Adam Rybczynski also received a "Did You Know" award from the city for completing the city's new website, which administration director Carol Mathis said was finished on time and within the budget.