August 21, the Commissioners and Volunteer Services Manager Kelly Brinkley recognized eight individuals and nonprofit organizations during the annual Volunteer Spirit of Worcester County Awards dinner ceremony at the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin. Volunteers were nominated by their peers in one of eight categories: individual, member of a board, Worcester County employee, group or team, faith-based, nonprofit volunteer program, veteran, and lifetime achievement.
“It is an honor to help connect volunteers with nonprofit organizations serving Worcester County and then being able to recognize many of those same individuals years later for putting their time, talents, and resources to work with those same agencies to improve our local communities,” said Brinkley, who heads Worcester County Volunteer Connection (WCVC).
Barbara Johnson of the Worcester County Arts Council and Mary Ellen Arena of Star Charities received Individual Spirit Awards. Johnson was recognized for serving as a gallery docent, helping with children’s programs, and assisting with the artists’ opening receptions. Arena was recognized for her work with the Sons and Daughters of Italy to raise funds for local charities and scholarships to three area high school students and for organizing social dinners and trips that cement friendships between the lodge and the community.
Ellie Scott of the Worcester County Arts Council received the Member of a Board Spirit Award for coordinating gallery improvement projects and coordinating more than 10 gallery exhibits to help the arts council make closer connections with the community.
Laura Puckett of the Atlantic Club received the Worcester County Employee Spirit Award for touching the lives of more than 1,000 individuals in recovery and for heading up special events, including chairing the Walk for Recovery.
Sharon O’Hare, Jenny Cropper-Rines, and Carol Ludwig, representing the Ocean Pines 50th Anniversary group, received the Group/Team Spirit Award for working tirelessly to promote the 50th anniversary celebration by locating and extracting the original time capsule, and planning, advertising, and executing special events.
Vicky Nock, Charlotte Powell, Harriette Creter, and Donna Dougan, representing the Spirit Kitchen of the Stephens United Methodist Church received the Faith-Based Spirit Award for their policy, “Don’t Say No to Anyone,” to feed and provide other resources to those who are food insecure in Worcester County.
Effie Cox, Anne Cook, Rusty Ruszin, and Tommy Vach, representing the Ocean City Surf Club, received the Nonprofit Volunteer Program Award for organizing projects and programs for the students to teach respect for others, the ocean, and the local environment. They also provide annual scholarships to local high school seniors.
Don McMullen of the Worcester County Veterans Memorial at Ocean Pines received the Veteran Spirit Award for chairing the education division. He has been instrumental in assuring that students from every fifth-grade class in the county visits the memorial and learns the history behind and proper respect for the American flag and the various military branches.
Coleen Mister of the Delmarva Discovery Center & Museum (DDCM) received the Lifetime Achievement Spirit Award for her life of community service. She has been making Project Linus blankets to comfort children in trauma for 17 years. She is also a 50-year member and current historian of Salem United Methodist Church, and a DDCM education program mainstay.
Volunteers make Worcester County a better place to live, work and visit. To honor those whose contributions assure the continuation of vital services, Worcester County residents were recently invited to nominate individuals and community organizations for the 2019 Volunteer Spirit of Worcester County.
“Whether you have three hours a month or 30 hours a week to give, WCVC can help plug you into area organizations that can benefit from your specific talents and interests,” Brinkley said. “Wherever you look, there’s a need and a group or organization working to fill it. For example, the Commission on Aging needs drivers to deliver meals on wheels, and many area elementary schools need drivers to pick up fresh vegetables and fruits from participating farms to send home with children who receive bags from school food pantries.”
For more information about volunteering in Worcester County or to learn more about the work done by this year’s Volunteer Spirit of Worcester County Award winners, contact Brinkley at (410) 632-0090.