“We had heard of other giving circles in other communities, so we met for lunch to talk about what that would look like in Harford County. Jayne had women friends, and I had friends all from different backgrounds. We picked 20 women who would be interested in the concept and invited them for dinner to share our vision of the Women’s Giving Circle,” says Lieb.
The organization’s members contribute a $550 fee per year and they give most of the money to support local nonprofits that support women and children. Members are recruited by word of mouth and different social events such as wine and cheese or Tupperware parities.
“Our first year goal was to get 50 members and we had 53. And, we were able to give $20,000 without fundraising. Today, we have 93 members,” says Lieb.
The Women’s Giving Circle of Harford County is different from other similar organizations because it has set up a legacy to give back to the community. A portion of the membership fees goes directly into a community fund that grows over the years.
“Fifty years from now, the fund will be our legacy to the community,” she says.
Lieb says the mission of the Women’s Giving Circle is twofold, “to support nonprofits and to increase philanthropy among women.”
“Statistically, men are the biggest givers … we wanted to change that culture. There are many career women who could be more philanthropic, and so, this is an opportunity.”
Over the years, Lieb has proven to be an active and vocal participant in bettering her community. In the 1990s she coordinated the Public Safety Training Institute with the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and founded the Susquehanna Human Resources Association. In 2008, she formed the Harford Leadership Academy Ambassadors and in 2011, Lieb was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force for the Future of Higher Education in Maryland.
Q & A: Marlene Lieb
Retired associate vice president for continuing education and training at Harford Community College
The Community Foundation of Harford County
If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?
Bruce & Chip Riley
Co-founders of the Charlie Riley Community Service Scholarship Foundation
By L’Oreal Thompson
When Charles W. Riley, a longtime member of the Abingdon Fire Company, passed away in 2005, his sons–Chip and Bruce–wanted a unique way to honor his legacy and give back to the community he cherished so much. So the following year, the brothers established the Charlie Riley Community Service Scholarship Foundation in their father’s memory. To this day, the foundation has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships.
“Chip and I grew up with parents who demonstrated the give-back philosophy,” says Bruce Riley, 49. “Our motto is taken from the book of James in the Bible: ‘doers of the word.’ Instead of just speaking the word, be a doer of the word and serve other people.”
Chip Riley, 52, agrees.
“When our dad passed away, I lost not just a father, but a mentor and best friend. He was the best man at my wedding,” says Chip.
“Cal Ripken Jr. said the day his dad died he’d lost his security blanket. There’s a lot of truth to that. If we ever needed something, he [our dad] was there.”
Every year, the Charlie Riley Community Service Scholarship Foundation awards $1,000 scholarships to 12 local high school seniors and 12 members of Harford County’s volunteer fire and ambulance companies. Recipients are chosen based on involvement in community service, leadership and extracurricular activities.
Two of the scholarship winners, one from the high schools and one from the fire companies, are chosen as overall winners and receive an additional $1,500 to support their pursuit of higher education. The scholarship foundation raises money through the annual Captain’s Choice Golf Tournament, a Ravens’ tailgate party, quarter auction and private donations.
“It’s not about how much you have, but the legacy you leave,” says Bruce. “What will people remember you for? What is your legacy going to be?”
Indeed, their father left behind quite a legacy. He was chief of the Abingdon Fire Company from 1968 until 1973; president of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association from 1983 until 1984; and chairman of the Maryland Fire Rescue Education Training Commission for 14 years. Additionally, he was an active member of the Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Abingdon for 55 years.
In addition to founding a scholarship foundation to honor their father, the Riley brothers give back to the community in other ways. Both continue to volunteer at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, where their mother, Phoebe, played the organ for more than 60 years.