By-the-book service earns honor

Award: A Literacy Council worker's impact throughout 15 dedicated years lead to her being selected Carroll County's volunteer of year.

October 03, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

When the "most beautiful people" in Carroll County gathered for an awards breakfast yesterday, tiaras were nowhere in sight. Instead, a Westminster woman, honored for her 15 years of volunteer work helping adults learn to read, received a plaque and a check for her favorite charity.

A committee organized by the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services selected Dee Hines, 67, from among 26 nominees to represent the county in the Maryland You Are Beautiful Program's November awards ceremony, which recognizes volunteers who rise above and beyond the call to public service.

"She was No. 1 on all our lists," said Audrey Cimino, executive director of Community Foundation of Carroll County Inc., who sat on the committee that pored over the nominations. "We chose her because of her dedication to the cause and the very large number of people she reaches."

Hines spends about 500 hours a year at the Literacy Council of Carroll County, a volunteer nonprofit organization that tutors adults who need help with reading, writing, spelling and math.

"When you teach someone to read, you change their whole life," Hines said. It's a personal mission that she said changed her life.

When she moved to Carroll County in 1987 from Peekskill, N.Y., the former homemaker and mother of four grown children began helping at the literacy group. Now she tutors one on one, matches tutors with students, assesses student reading levels, makes presentations, plans programs and keeps track of each student's progress.

She said one adult student with Down syndrome has taught her, as well.

"Every person you meet helps you grow emotionally and intellectually," Hines said.

She ended her short acceptance speech with a pitch to the group to take up tutoring.

At the Best Western Hotel in Westminster, the Carroll Maryland's Most Beautiful People Volunteer Awards ceremony -- as it's referred to on the program's literature -- drew about 70 people. Guests included all three county commissioners, two mayors, the nominees, their nominators and the committee that chose the winner. They sat down to eggs, bacon, home fries and presentations honoring volunteers from around the county.

Jolene Sullivan, director of the Carroll County Department of Citizen Services, read the nominees' biographies as each person received a plaque and a county pin from each of the commissioners.

"You volunteers are our hidden treasures," Sullivan said at the breakfast. "The lives of many citizens are changed because of your care. And now today, we hope you'll bask in the realization of how you have made a difference."

Among the groups represented in the nominations were 4-H, the American Red Cross, the Mount Airy Senior Center, the Carroll County Farm Museum and Carroll County Food Sunday.

Sullivan's department sent 360 letters in April asking for nominations and received about 30 responses by the end of August. The number of nominees was 26 because names were repeated, she said.

The program started 16 years ago as a spinoff of the Baltimore is Best volunteer efforts in the 1970s, said Floraine B. Applefeld, the state's program director.

Hines will get a bonus not offered in previous years -- a $500 check to donate to the charity of her choice provided by the Community Foundation of Carroll County.

"I wonder where that money is going," she said jokingly, leaving little doubt that it would be given to the literacy group.

Hines said she would be doing the work regardless of any material reward.

"Volunteering is the greatest therapy in the whole wide world," she said. "If you're not feeling good, you can go out and help someone else. It makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself."

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