An honor for a 'caring' woman A friend of the needy: Dorothy Moore is the 11th recipient of the Living the Dream award, which she earned for her work with homeless and low-income people.

January 21, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

When a Massachusetts family was found stranded on the side of a Howard County road two weeks ago with no money and no food, local police were called -- and so was Dorothy Moore.

From her home in Columbia's Long Reach village, the executive director of the Community Action Council made arrangements that night to ensure that the family was fed and had transportation back to Massachusetts.

Her work in such situations over the past 26 years has earned her this year's Living the Dream award from the Howard County Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission.

Mrs. Moore, 61, is the 11th recipient of the award, which is presented annually to commemorate the assassinated civil rights leader's life and legacy.

"She's just a loving and caring person who's deeply committed to people, particularly low-income people and the circumstances they face," said Lawrence Hunt, program director for the Community Action Council, a nonprofit anti-poverty agency, who nominated Mrs. Moore for the award.

"I told them to be thankful they stopped in Howard County," said Mrs. Moore of the out-of-towners whose car broke down.

The Living the Dream competition is open to organizations, individuals, government agencies and businesses. Nominees are judged on how their work promotes nonviolence, racial cooperation and relieving poverty.

"Those were the areas Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy pointed to the most," said Charles Rattley, chairman of the 13-member commission that organizes the county's annual observance of Dr. King's birthday.

This year's program, with the theme "Howard County: Unity Through Diversity and Partnerships," will be held Feb. 4 during a celebration at Howard Community College that begins at 3 p.m.

The program -- originally scheduled for Jan. 14 but postponed because of the blizzard -- will include performances by area choirs and jazz ensembles. The speaker will be the Rev. Cain Hope Felder, a biblical studies professor at Howard University.

The commission voted unanimously to honor Mrs. Moore.

"I work with [Mrs. Moore] on a daily basis, and I've seen the things she has done with the community and the commitment she has," Dr. Hunt said. "She really loves the county and all its people.

Mrs. Moore, a Clarksville native, started with the Community Action Council as a caseworker in 1969 and became its executive director in 1984.

The agency, which has a $2.3 million budget and 79 employees, serves about 2,000 low-income residents a year.

In her work with the council, Mrs. Moore developed a county program for the homeless that helps prevent evictions and offers emergency shelter. It also operates the Family Support Center at Hilltop, a county-owned housing complex for low-income residents near Ellicott City's historic district.

She also helped organize the Men Equipped to Achieve mentoring program for black men ages 18 to 25.

"Being a religious person, I know that had it not been for the grace of God, anyone could be in a bad situation," Mrs. Moore said.

Working with the Community Action Council gives her a chance to help such people, she said.

"I often feel like I'm out there on a limb, trying to make good things happen for low-income people," Mrs. Moore said. "But each day brings new challenges in looking for ways to make life better for them."

For more information on the "Howard County: Unity Through Diversity and Partnerships" program and the Living the Dream award, call the Howard County Office of Human Rights at (410) 313-6430.

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