Community Foundation Presents 17th Annual People’s Choice Awards

The Community Foundation held its 17th annual People’s Choice Awards dinner last week at the Kerfoot Refectory at Saint James School. This yearly event consisted of four awards, including the new Nonprofit Shining Star Award, new PCA Nonprofit Award, Rising Star Award and PCA Volunteer Award. These awards recognize individuals and nonprofits in the community who have made a difference in Washington County by giving generously of their time and talents to make it a better place to live. In addition to honoring these individuals and nonprofit organizations, the Community Foundation will establish a $5,000 endowment fund in honor of the PCA Nonprofit and PCA Volunteer winners. It will also make contributions to the Young Philanthropist’s Fund (in honor of the Rising Star Award winner) and an endowment fund for the Nonprofit Shining Star’s organization.

PCA-2016-winners-webNonprofit Shining Star Award

The new Nonprofit Shining Star Award consisted of three nominees: Buck Browning, Tom Kline and Jodie Ostoich. The Foundation chose to recognize these three individuals for their engagement in the community, the advancements they have made at their respected nonprofits as well as their collaboration with other organizations in the area. Community Foundation staff researched each nominee and its board of trustees voted on a winner. The nominees’ bios follow:

Buck Browning is the executive director at the Fort Ritchie Community Center. Under his leadership, the center has added a before school care, out of school care, parent’s night out, speaker series and new themes and strategies for summer programs. Summer camps at FRCC have increased by 38% in summer camp average daily attendance over 2 years, and 41% in overall enrollment in summer programs.

Tom Kline has brought a lot of growth to Big Brothers Big Sisters in the four years he has served as chief executive officer. The organization has seen a 14% growth in the number of kids served, in large part due to strategic volunteer recruitment and has averaged 34 new volunteer applications. BBBS has also created several successful volunteer recruitment partnerships with Hub Labels, First Data and Springfield Middle School during this time.

Jodie Ostoich serves as executive director of REACH as well as chairman of the Washington County Homeless Coalition. She runs the day-to-day operations of a 24-hour crisis program, a day resource center and a cold weather shelter. Jodie’s responsibilities include fundraising, grant writing, volunteer management and strategic planning for the organization.

Under Jodie’s leadership, Reach has added three supportive self-sufficiency services since 2010: case management, Open Table and financial education. These services have enhanced the participant’s ability to find housing and remain self-sufficient, while reducing the length of stay in the shelter as well as a return to homelessness. Reach has over 1,600 volunteers annually. The organization strongly believes in collaborating with other local organizations to leverage the resources available in the best possible way. They lead the financial education partnership of Washington County, collaborating with CAC, Hagerstown Housing Authority and the W House to provide financial education to low and moderate income households.

Jodie Ostoich received this year’s inaugural Shining Star Award.

People’s Choice Nonprofit Award

The People’s Choice Nonprofit Award, another new award for this event, consisted of three local nonprofit organizations, including Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Humane Society of Washington County and YMCA of Hagerstown. An independent committee within the Foundation chose these three organizations based on their community engagement and contributions. Then the community selected the winner through online voting that took place from October 17-21.

The Humane Society of Washington County won with 48% of the vote. The Humane Society exists to promote the welfare of companion and domestic animals through educational programs and initiatives that reduce pet overpopulation, endorse fostering, enrich adoptions and encourage responsible pet guardianship. In recent years, euthanasia rates decreased by nearly 50 percent in Washington County. The Humane Society has established a viable development program and embraced the power and persuasion of social media, helping generate additional revenue. From 2013 to 2015, the organization increased giving by over $180,000. They work collaboratively with the Community Foundation as an enthusiastic partner in Washington County Gives, having assisted with trainings and other activities for this event.

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 Kelsi Palmer serves on North Hagerstown High School’s Professional Advisory Council where she assists students, instructors and other professionals in the marketing field. She is on the board of directors for both the BISFA Foundation and BraveHEART Program. Kelsi is an assistant varsity softball coach for WCPS high schools. She also leads various committees at the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, including the Annual Chamber Cup Golf Tournament, Chamber New Member Ambassadors and Gen Next Group. Kelsi also volunteers for numerous local events, such as Washington County Gives, HEAL’s annual Color Splash, Brook Lane’s annual GLOW Run and U.S. Military Vets Motorcycle Club, Western MD Chapter. She graduated from Shepherd University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications. Kelsi works at High Rock Studios as a digital & social media strategist.

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. Nominations are sent to the Community Foundation for these individuals, who are then voted on by an independent panel of judges. This year’s winner Will Godwin volunteers at the Western Maryland Hospital Center as a Master Gardener and serves on its advisory committee. He is also an active member of the Hospital’s auxiliary, serving on the board as chairperson of the Therapeutic Gardening Committee. Over the past nine years, Will has accumulated 3,600 volunteer hours at the Hospital. He contributed to the creation of both the Fletcher Fitness Trail as well as the Hendershot Memorial Garden. Will recently developed a plan to commence operation of the model trains in the Train Garden. He also organizes students, businesses and church groups to work in the 33 different gardens on the Hospital’s 13 acre campus. In addition to his work at the Western Maryland Hospital Center, he serves on United Way of Washington County’s Day of Caring Steering Committee, Hagerstown Rotary Club, Washington County Early Childhood Advisory Council and On Track with the Greater Hagerstown Committee. Will is an active member at St. John’s Episcopal Parish, serving on several committees within his church, including as a representative for HARC.

“Everything Will does as a volunteer, he does from his heart for the betterment of our community and to make a difference in the quality of life for those individuals at the hospital center,” said Kathy Morissey. Mr. Godwin elected to have the Will Godwin Fund for the Therapeutic Gardens at the Western Maryland Hospital Center created as the endowment fund in his honor.

The Community Foundation appreciates the generous support of the following businesses that help make the People’s Choice Awards possible: Albright Crumbacker Moul & Itell, LLC; BB&T; The Family Heritage Trust Company; 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 WHAG.