Event today honors Pittman's three-decade-long career

May 21, 2008|By Janene Holzberg | Janene Holzberg,Special to The Sun

A three-decade-long career devoted to human services that will come to an end next week is being honored today, along with the contributions of a volunteer and two community groups.

Judith S. Pittman, education and training director at the Association of Community Services since 2002, will be recognized by ACS with a Special Recognition Award at the Audrey Robbins Humanitarian Awards Luncheon at noon at The Meeting Place in Oakland Mills. She is retiring May 29.

The awards, named for a former county social services director, were created in 1975 to highlight the work of human services organizations, volunteers and staff members.

Other winners are volunteer of the year, Sandy Jaworski of Highland; volunteer team of the year, Gilchrist Hospice - Howard County volunteers; and employee team of the year, the Domestic Violence Unit of the county Police Department.

"If anyone had asked me even a year ago, I would not have predicted my retirement," said Pittman, who began her career with the Family Life Center in 1977.

"But, for lack of a better way of explaining it, I just felt like this was the right time," said the 37-year resident of Oakland Mills. "I felt like I had used up my best and most creative ideas."

It was Pittman's creativity in finding ways to fill the needs of members that was "a real gift," said Anne Towne, ACS executive director. "Judy is a visionary with a keen understanding of the community."

With Pittman's prodding, Towne has hired her replacement to ensure a smooth transition, she said. Joan Driessen, formerly of Neighbor to Neighbor, has begun on-the-job training.

After 10 years at the Family Life Center, Pittman briefly joined the corporate world. But she said she knew within days that she would not stay on. In 1987, she began work at United Way, then in 1998 began a five-year term as executive director of the Urban Rural Transportation Alliance. She followed that with her job at ACS.

"The bottom line is that I've had a wonderful career, working with people who make meaningful contributions," said Pittman. "I do have a passion for this kind of work."

Pittman described ACS as "a chamber of commerce for human service providers" and said the education and training arm, which has been funded since its inception through a grant from the Horizon Foundation, is devoted to support for the staffs of the county's nonprofit organizations.

"Organizations are so determined to make things work in Howard County. There is a willingness to collaborate that you don't see in other counties - there are no turf issues here," she said.

Colleen Konstanzer, community outreach coodinator at Neighbor Ride, called Pittman "absolutely amazing and hands down the energy and passion behind our organization," which arranges transportation for senior citizens.

"Judy is one of our founding board members and our success is directly attributed to her determination," she said.

Pittman said her immediate plans include traveling over the summer and spending a lot of time with her two children - Holly Gillum, a clinical social worker, and Todd Pitman, a physicist - and her five grandchildren, ranging in age from 5 to 14, all of whom live in Howard County.

"I am so incredibly blessed, not only that my kids live here, but because of whom they've turned out to be," she said.

While she said she is not sure exactly what she will be doing when summer ends - she is interested in the revitalization of Oakland Mills as it turns 40 and may volunteer for ACS - Pittman said she will return to being "fully immersed" in the community come September. She will continue volunteer work with Neighbor Ride, Leadership Howard County and the Women's Giving Circle of Columbia.

"This [not knowing what lies ahead] is not really like me, as I am a real planner," she said. "But I've decided to listen and tune in to what my own instincts are telling me."


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