Awards honor extraordinary commitment to community

By VANESSA FRANKO Staff Writer

Three years ago, Bunny Wilson found out that St. Mary's Catholic Church was looking for a volunteer to head up the English as a second language program.

She had just retired from her government job and her love for people and all things Spanish prompted her to get involved.

Now the Severna Park resident heads up about 50 volunteers who teach eight different levels of English to about 100 students each week.

Last night she was one of 12 ordinary people and groups honored for doing extraordinary things for Anne Arundel County at the first Community Trustee Awards.

The awards, sponsored by Leadership Anne Arundel and Capital-Gazette Newspapers, rewarded a commitment to making Anne Arundel County a better place to live and work.

"(It's) a small group of people who have made a big impact on our community," said Griff Hall, executive director for Leadership Anne Arundel.

About 200 people turned out for the event at the Historical Electronics Museum in Linthicum.

In addition to Ms. Wilson, honorees included: Dr. Jane Snider, Carl Snowden, Lenox Buchanan, Kincey Potter, James Turner, Lysbeth Courtney, Ken Dunshee, Dan and Kay Sweeney, Ken Brannan, Christa Grim and the

Clay Street Public Safety Team.

"You look at the people around here and they're from different walks," Mr. Hall said.

The honorees help in many different aspects of Anne Arundel County, from preserving maritime heritage to civil rights activism, but all strive to help the community.

In the ESL program, Ms. Wilson credited the volunteers' enthusiasm and the hard working nature of the students for her continued inspiration.

"Some of the students have been here since I started. To watch them coming from knowing no English, and being afraid to speak, to hear them having conversations ... you talk about satisfaction - right there," she said.

Dan and Kay Sweeney of Arnold also see the efforts of those they help with their volunteering with Food Link Inc., a group that provides struggling families with food and other needs.

"Anne Arundel County was very good to us," Mr. Sweeney said. "This is a way we can say 'Thank You.'"

Mr. Sweeney talked about connecting with people and the appreciation from the people they've helped, especially senior citizens.

"It has become a personal thing for many of them," he said.

Mrs. Sweeney became involved with Food Link, about 13 years ago and Mr. Sweeney about four years ago.

"I don't do as much lifting now," she said, smiling.

"I'm the driver and the lifter," Mr. Sweeney responded.

Leadership Anne Arundel's Flagship class of 2005 also honored Edward Kirk with a Leadership Anne Arundel Community Trustee Award for his teachings about clean air. Winter Relief for the Homeless, based out of Pasadena, which gives the homeless meals and a place to stay during the coldest weeks of the year, received a Leadership Anne Arundel Organizational Trustee Award.

 

Published April 06, 2006, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Copyright © 2006 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

News ArticleBy Andy Carruthers -- The Capital
Christa Grim approaches the podium to accept her award.