In the New Year, Mary Louise Capers will be basking on the sugary beaches of St. Maarten in the British Virgin Islands -- a small reward for (and a brief respite from) her nine years of dedicated service tothe Glen Burnie community.
Capers, a founder of the Glen Burnie Interest Group, predecessor of the Omicron Gamma Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, received the trip from four of her colleaguesat a recent luncheon in her honor.
A marketing teacher at Old Mill High School, Capers has been extremely active in the community, working within and outside the sorority, serving as a board member of the county's Pan Hellenic Council andon the campaign of the late Delegate Aris T. Allen.
Since the formation of the Glen Burnie Interest Group in the early 1980s and the chapter in 1984, Capers has served as vice president and president. She is credited by other members with having guided the sorority chapter in the formation and expansion of numerous community services.
A1958 graduate of Morgan State University, Capers moved to Glen Burnie in 1978 and discovered a need in her newly adopted community.
"There was a chapter in Annapolis, but it wasn't meeting the needs of the Glen Burnie community," Capers recalled.
After commuting to Annapolis for a few years, she decided to form a Glen Burnie Alpha KappaAlpha chapter and set about recruiting inactive sorority sisters in the area.
The list totaled about 20. After a few months of ads in local newspapers, the Interest Group was born.
The chapter now boasts 35 active members.
Her group provides scholarship donations tolocal high school students, aid to the elderly and tutorial assistance for Freetown Elementary School pupils -- a service that has grown from 12 to 29 children under Capers' guidance.
Contributions to the sorority's scholarship program, which offers $500 grants to students in the county, increased from $1,200 to $10,000 during Capers' 1988-1992 term as president.
Along with her trip, she also received citations for community service from Gov. William Donald Schaefer and County Executive Robert R. Neall.
Still an active member, Capers plans to extend her skills and expertise to helping the youth of the county, under the auspices of the state's Republican Party.
"Basically, I would like to work in an area of the party that would work to enhance the quality of life of the youth of the community and improve their skills in mathematics," she said.
"I've seen more people becoming involved (in volunteering) and a diversification of the types of people and skills becoming involved," she added, "and not just quantity, but quality."
She plans to continue working with the sorority chapter until her much-anticipated island vacation at the end of June, then pick up again when she returns. She said she has never considered what she would do if she wasn't volunteering.
"I'm not sure what I'd be doing. I think I would be rather bored if I were unable to contribute to the enhancement of community services," she said.