Sylvia Canon, the only director of Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. since its founding 13 years ago, will retire in three months.
Canon, 63, will retire Jan. 12 from the agency that runs all social services programs in the county. She has devoted her career to social work, creating and operating programs for the needy.
"I feel like I have been at this forever and it is time" to leave, she said.
A graduate of Goucher College, Canon spent 30 years overseeing state and county programs before starting HSP in 1987. Its annual budget then was $85,000 for one project: a shelter for homeless women.
"From this humble beginning, Mrs. Canon has overseen a tenfold growth in all areas," John F. Gambatese, president of the HSP board of directors, wrote in a letter last week notifying county and state officials and community agencies of Canon's retirement plans.
HSP now oversees five homeless shelters, emergency and energy assistance programs, the Carroll County Family Shelter, Family Links, Neighbors in Need and about 20 other programs. The agency helps about 12,000 people annually, from housing to clothing and food.
When the program began in Carroll, Canon was a state employee whose salary was paid by the county - "a real hybrid situation," she said. "HSP evolved from that situation." The county pays the director's salary now.
"The board of directors and the community will sorely miss Mrs. Canon's boundless energy, leadership and sense of accomplishment," Gambatese wrote.
The board has begun a search for a replacement and "will strive to make the transition as seamless as possible," Gambatese wrote.
For all the programs she has created, Canon, a Westminster resident, said she has none in place for her retirement.
"I have no specific plans for retirement," she said. "I will just go where the spirit leads me."