Group home named for generous teacher

Freetown instructor gives $300 a month to Bello Machre

March 30, 2000|By Kimberly Marselas | Kimberly Marselas,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Frank Seifert says he does not remember exactly when he got involved with Bello Machre, a Glen Burnie-based nonprofit organization that provides daily assistance and housing to the physically and mentally disabled across Anne Arundel County.

Some might deem that as remarkable as his generosity -- donating $300 a month to the program for more than six years.

"The Bible says if you give, you get," Seifert said. "I'm just returning what I've been given."

Tomorrow, Bello Machre will express its thanks at a dedication ceremony naming one of its group homes for Seifert -- the first contributor to receive such an honor.

"We have quite a few people who contribute monthly, but at this level, very few," said Mary Lynn Fisher, a Bello Machre spokeswoman. "Mr. Seifert's generosity is amazing, especially since he's done it all on a teacher's salary."

Seifert has taught physical education at Freetown Elementary School for 32 years, and he began contributing to Bello Machre after noticing one of its group homes near the school about 15 years ago.

The donations were small at first. Seifert said he increased the amount to $300 after touring the organization's facilities. He couldn't remember when, but Bello Machre says it was more than six years ago -- and the donations have totaled more than $22,000 since then.

`I see the work'

"I was looking for something where I knew where the money was going," Seifert said.

"I used to give a lot to the church, but I couldn't tell where the money was going. I see the work it does here."

Donations from individuals cover a variety of needs at Bello Machre -- from maintenance to transportation for residents, many of whom have part-time jobs but need everyday assistance. The organization's name is Gaelic for "home of my heart."

When Bello Machre officials decided to name one of its group homes for Seifert, they chose "Cottage 8" on Freetown Road in recognition of another relationship: He had taught its resident manager and her children during his long tenure at Freetown Elementary, less than half a mile away.

The building that will be named Frank Seifert House is home to six adults, male and female. With the help of money from a state grant, Bello Machre has finished improvements, including replacing a kitchenette with a full kitchen.

`I was surprised'

Seifert said he is honored by the recognition.

"Usually, when someone calls up, you expect them to ask for more money," Seifert said, recounting a call from Bello Machre's director Robert Ireland -- seeking permission to name the building for him.

"When he asked if he could use my name, I was surprised. That just flattened me."

Noting that he is single and lives with his mother, Seifert said he will continue to give to Bello Machre and other local organizations as long as he can afford to.

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