People’s Choice Awards
Every year, the Community Foundation holds the People’s Choice Awards to recognize and celebrate individuals in the community who give generously of their time and talents to make Washington County a better place to live. The 2018 People’s Choice Awards included the PCA Volunteer Award, Rising Star Award, PCA Nonprofit Award and Nonprofit Shining Star Award. In addition to honoring these individuals and nonprofit organizations, the Community Foundation established a $5,000 endowment fund in recognition of the PCA Nonprofit and PCA Volunteer winners and contributed to the Nonprofit Shining Star’s organization and the Young Philanthropist’s Fund in honor of the Rising Star winner.
This year’s People’s Choice Award winners are as follows.
People’s Choice Volunteer Award
The People’s Choice Volunteer Award recognizes one individual in the community who gives unselfishly of their time and talents to Washington County. An independent panel of judges voted to honor June Datum as this year’s winner. For many years, June volunteered and served as board president for the Potomac Center, running their annual carnival. From 1981-2013, she was a board member with the American Cancer Society and on the fundraising committees for Daffodil Days, Longest Day of Golf and annual Grand Sunday Brunch. She was a patient services member there as well where she funded and found resources for cancer patients as needed. June has been the chairperson for student hospitality at the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Men’s Basketball Tournament for over 30 years. For the past 12 years, she has served as an usher at The Maryland Theatre. Since 2012, June has been the house manager, coordinating and scheduling all of the ushers for 175 events and performances each year. “June always treats each person, volunteers and theatre patrons, with patience and understanding and always makes you feel as though you are the most important person to her,” said Jessica Green, executive director of The Maryland Theatre. June elected to have the June Datum Endowment Fund for the Maryland Theatre created as the endowment fund in her honor. Check out June’s video on WDVM.
Rising Star Award
The Rising Star Award honors someone aged 25-40 who demonstrates a commitment to the Washington County community through volunteer service and financial support. This year’s Rising Star winner Cort Meinelschmidt has been on The Arc of Washington County Board for 12 years, serving as president for six years. He is very involved with fundraising for The Arc, specifically through Dancing with the Arc Stars. Cort is also a member of The Arc of Maryland Board and recently received their “Volunteer of the Year” award. He is a Navy veteran rescue swimmer credited with saving 15 lives during duty. He has coached the Special Olympics swim team for 14 years and is a volunteer swim team coach for Goretti High School. He also supports the Humane Society. Cort is a professional advisor and CEO for Sentinel Capital Solutions.
Nonprofit Shining Star Award
Buck Browning received this year’s Nonprofit Shining Star Award based on his hard work, determination and perseverance at the Fort Ritchie Community Center, where he has served as executive director since January 2014. The Community Center, located on the former U.S. Army Base in Cascade, exists to improve the lives of local individuals through a friendly, welcoming and fun environment by offering a fully-equipped fitness center, two gymnasiums, 25 weekly exercise classes and a variety of youth programs, including Kid’s Club, Parent’s Night Out and summer camps. The Community Center holds over ten annual events, which are widely successful through Buck’s leadership. With his staff, Buck consistently promotes a service-oriented business environment while striving to instill a workplace mentality based on respect, enthusiasm and independence. “Buck never fails to live up to the Community Center’s pillars of fun and family. Anybody who knows Buck knows he likes to tell jokes. Our members never leave without a smile on their face!” said Carrie Lowe, youth program director. Check out Buck’s video on WDVM.
People’s Choice Nonprofit Award
The Washington County Commission on Aging received this year’s People’s Choice Nonprofit Award. The Commission on Aging has over 50 programs serving older adults, those with disabilities and their caregivers. Last year, they served more than 6,100 people and had 1,600 members registered at the Senior Activities Center and have already exceeded those numbers this year. Some of their notable services include Meals on Wheels, Senior Medicare Patrol and Mobile Outreach. Due to a high demand in services, they have added ten new programs in the past few years. In 2017, the Commission on Aging distributed over 50,750 meals to seniors at seven congregate sites and through Meals on Wheels. The organization’s first fundraiser brought in around $13,000. The Commission on Aging has 43 trained, professional staff who empower clients to make educated decisions to remain in their home and community for as long as possible with the assistance of their services and programs. Through their Retired Senior Volunteer Program, they have over 200 background checked volunteers serving the county as well.
The Community Foundation appreciates the generous support of the following businesses that help make the People’s Choice Awards possible: Antietam Wealth Management; BB&T; The Family Heritage Trust Company; First Energy Foundation (Potomac Edison); The Hershey-Fitzsimmons Group of RBC Wealth Management; M&T Bank; Mason Investment Advisory Services, Inc., William Dutton Family Fund; Marshfield Associates; Herald-Mail Media; Valley Mall and WDVM.
Nonprofit Shining Star Award: Deb Cohill
People’s Choice Nonprofit Award: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County
Rising Star Award: Sam Buhrman
People’s Choice Volunteer Award: Jackie Fouche, Mount Hope Prison Ministry Endowment Fund
Nonprofit Shining Star Award: Jodie Ostoich
People’s Choice Nonprofit Award: Humane Society of Washington County
Rising Star Award: Kelsi Palmer
People’s Choice Volunteer Award: Will Godwin, Therapeutic Gardens at the Western Maryland Hospital Center
*As three honorees chose to benefit the Community Free Clinic, the name of this fund has been changed to the Community Free Clinic People’s Choice Awards Fund. Five honorees have chosen REACH, and thus five $5,000 gifts have been made to the existing REACH Endowment.