County chooses retiree for state volunteer gala

Donald Champ `has made service part of his life'

Most Beautiful People awards

44 honored for efforts on behalf of others

Carroll County

September 28, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Donald Champ was in his RV yesterday, en route to a reunion in Missouri and apparently unaware that he had been chosen to represent Carroll County in the 2004 Maryland's Most Beautiful People awards. His pastor, who nominated him, said Champ might be on a pleasure trip but he will invariably find volunteer opportunities on the road.

"We couldn't tell him that he had won, and he had made a commitment to the reunion," said the Rev. Richard McCullough, pastor of Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg. "He will probably be volunteering there."

Every Maryland county and Baltimore City hold awards ceremonies this time of year to honor volunteers and to choose their representative to the 18-year-old program's Nov. 10 gala in Annapolis. At a breakfast that drew about 200 people yesterday to the Best Western Conference Center in Westminster, a brief list of the volunteer efforts of 44 county residents was read.

Carroll's honorees ranged in age from 18-year-old Kyle Barber, whose 10 years in 4-H have included food drives for the needy and relief efforts for storm victims, to 89-year-old Talmadge Balance, who has helped the Westminster Elks for the past 40 years.

Jolene G. Sullivan, director of Carroll's Department of Citizen Services and the emcee of yesterday's event, called each honoree a shining star. Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr., a 30-year volunteer with the Union Bridge fire company, reminded the audience that volunteers save taxpayers money. Floraine Applefeld, founder and state director the Maryland's Most Beautiful People program, said every nominee is a winner.

"Volunteer efforts are one of the most important components of the community," Applefeld said. "Think of yourselves as valuable people to your county and your state."

Sullivan recapped the nominations of residents who have given time and talent to their churches, communities, hospitals and service groups.

Sue Beverly helped raise 27 foster children and founded a support group for foster parents. Donna Means Geiman volunteers as the chaplain at Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Company and began a domestic violence initiative for the county.

Joe Hernandez runs a children's Bible study at his church and translates for inmates at the Carroll County Detention Center. Wayne Thomas has saved the old Hampstead train station and renovated it for his town. On Our Own of Carroll County, a support center for recovering addicts and the mentally ill, nominated a dozen of its volunteers, who served 531 people last year.

Attempts to reach Champ yesterday were unsuccessful.

Several in the audience painted a picture of him as the ever-present, always cheerful volunteer, who "has made service part of his life," said McCullough, in expressing gratitude on Champ's behalf. The former business owner told the pastor 12 years ago that retirement meant he could follow his real passion.

Champ volunteers at his church, the Lions Club and South Carroll Senior Center. He remodeled a homeless shelter in Westminster, cooks weekly at the Eldersburg soup kitchen and, at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, fills in frequently for the ailing chaplain, said McCullough.

A former chairman of the county Commission on Aging, Champ organized renovation projects that helped seniors stay in their homes. He takes seniors grocery shopping, to doctors appointments and to pick up their prescriptions. He runs the Health Services Committee for the Freedom District Lions Club, a job that entails collecting, storing and delivering medical equipment, sometimes within a few hours' notice.

When McCullough underwent knee surgery recently, it was Champ who brought crutches to his home. A neighbor with a replacement hip found a hospital bed waiting at her home to ease her recovery.

Champ also helps with Lions fund-raisers, such as the sale of Florida citrus and Vidalia onions, and organizes senior events.

"He drove all the way to Georgia last year to bring back onions," said Ellen Dix, a fellow honoree for her efforts with senior citizens. "He is always the first to volunteer. We have a building filled with health equipment and Don logged 3,000 miles on his truck last year delivering things, usually the same day they were requested."

While praising Champ, McCullough did not neglect the other nominees.

"All of you deserve recognition like this," he said.

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