Callahan's volunteer spirit, efforts are key to change in Hampstead


July 17, 2002|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY JOB application should read, `How do you volunteer in your community?' because everyone has something [he or she] can share," says Sharon Callahan.

Since arriving in Hampstead three years ago, Callahan has generated volunteer spirit in her workplace and tapped into unique ideas to create positive change in Hampstead. She starts with something as small as a packet of seeds, a coupon and a funny wig. The tiny idea creates a ripple effect.

This year marks the second - under the auspices of the Hampstead Business Association - that she has given seeds to residents and businesses along Main Street.

"If you plant flowers, make your home pretty, your neighbors see it. Then that neighbor puts a wreath on his door. I can already see the difference," she says. "It doesn't take 100 people, just five or six."

This year, residents painted fireplugs red, white and blue. More flowers are seen on Main Street.

Shortly before graduation, 678 North Carroll High School students were called to an assembly where Callahan met them with books of coupons from business association members for free merchandise. The books were rewards for good grades and excellent attendance.

"We congratulated them for doing well. It was recognition for doing what's expected of them. It's all about self-esteem and being appreciated," Callahan said. "The other kids wanted to know why they weren't on the list. We are creating peer pressure in a positive way."

She talks to high school students for the Career Connections program developed by teachers Kathy Bare and Dick Weaver. She explains buying a house and developing a career, and offers mock interviews.

At times, she wears a multicolored clown wig to the high school. It's an attention-getter with a message for students expecting a career after graduation who aren't aware of conformity and expectations in the workplace.

"It works. I need them to look at me as dumfounded as an employer would look at them," Callahan says. "There I am, a manager of a Coldwell Banker office, president of the Hampstead Business Association, and member of the Chamber of Commerce, but in a clown wig. They make a judgment about me in 30 seconds, just as an employer would do to them. It is a visual they understand."

On May 14, Callahan was presented with the town key to Hampstead, with the day named in her honor by the town. The business association recommended her for the award.

The philosophy of her Coldwell Banker real estate office in Hampstead is "to give back to the community," Callahan says. She's inspired her office staff to attend summer carnivals and appear in the Hampstead parade.

"My goal is to be as involved as I can be," she says. "If I want others to do things, I'd better be out there doing it myself. It's important to be a role model."

More days; food needs

The NESAP Clothing Store has extended its hours to include Wednesdays and Fridays.

The store, a project of North East Social Action Program Inc., collects, sorts and resells usable clothing and housewares. Proceeds benefit numerous programs that aid residents in need.

Hours have been expanded because the store has a large inventory. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.

The current need is for food items. Last year, the pantry supplied more than 700 bags of staple items to the needy of Carroll County. Donations of household cleaners, tea, sugar, pancake mix and syrup, cereal, peaches, pears and other food are especially needed.

The store and pantry are at 1046 S. Carroll St., Hampstead.

Store information: 410-374-9099; pantry information: 410-239-6216.

Author visits library

Award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson will talk at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the North Carroll library branch, 2255 Hanover Pike, Greenmount. Her first two novels were listed on the American Library Association's "Best Book for Young Adults."

She wanted to be a writer since her childhood in Syracuse, N.Y., where she weathered severe winters pretending to be a polar bear. Her themes for young adult novels range from animal-rescue stories to historical fiction written from a young teen's point of view.

Registration is not required. Information: 410-386-4480.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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