Humility was typical.
Danielle Sara Yifrah, a 17-year-old Wilde Lake senior, thanked her family and cited her father as she accepted the youth award Thursday at the 17th Annual Howard County Volunteer Awards Celebration in Columbia.
Her father's "courage has served as a real inspiration to me," she said. Danielle's father, Avram Yifrah, with her at the ceremony, was diagnosed six years ago with stomach cancer. Danielle was cited forher work for the American Cancer Society.
Pat Finnegan, a hospicevolunteer, said her human services award was mostly for the terminally ill who have died in her care and taught her about "courage and living life to the fullest."
Finnegan, who logged more than 2,200 hours of service, said "God gave me the heart to work with the terminally ill."
In all, four individuals, a Jeffers Hill after-school group and an Ellicott City health clinic were honored for their good works in the county.
The six were among were 31 people, four businesses and nine groups applauded by a crowd of more than 200 at the 17th annual awards celebration in Columbia.
Presidential assistant Clark K. Ervin, associate director of policy in the Office of National Service, told the audience that selfishness is giving way to a nationwide concern for others.
The answer to the nation's problems, he said, "is what we call points of light" -- volunteers "able to accomplish in limited time what governments in overtime cannot."
He said the 44 individuals and groups nominated exemplified the kinds of volunteers he was talking about.
As they came forward to receive certificates and applause, the lights were dimmed and the audience flicked on miniature flashlights.
The nominees stood before the crowd and the Mount Hebron Singers sang "You Light Up My Life."
Afterward, winners in each category were recognized individually.
"I was reallysurprised, but it felt really good. I never expected to win," said youth recipient Danielle. She had learned of her nomination only two weeks ago.
The winners did not know in advance they had been selected. They learned of their selection only as a short description of their accomplishments was read and their name announced.
As Danielle's resume was read, her heart "started beating very fast," she said. "I remembered everything I've done. But I've gotten so much back. I really shouldn't be the one" to be honored. Her humility was typical.
Shirley Burrill won in the educational-recreational category for her efforts in getting business and community leaders to take on volunteer projects.
The Howard Medical Walk-in Clinic on Route 40 in Ellicott City was recognized for its HIS/plan that is a health insurance plan for low-income people that features a flat fee system that canbe paid in monthly installments.
S. Edward Bradford, president ofthe clinic's company, accepted the award.
When accepting the award for the Helping Hands Enrichment and Leadership program at Jeffers Hill Elementary School, Ionnie Butler thanked "all the parents" who worked with her in the Saturday morning cultural awareness program andthe "fantastic" students who value the program "more than Saturday morning comics on television."
Arts award winner Ronald H. Carlson,cited for his work with the Columbia Pro Cantare and in helping to found the Columbia Festival of the Arts, was unable to attend.
"I am thrilled he has been given this award," a friend said of him. "He has been such a leader for us."
The event was co-sponsored by the Columbia Business Exchange, Association of Community Services, the Columbia Foundation, Howard County government and the United Way.
Staff writers James M. Coram and Patrick L. Hickerson contributed to this article.