November 18, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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Volunteering

Peter Franchot
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November 3, 2017

The simple inscription on William Donald Schaefer’s headstone reads, “He Cared.”

During his nearly four decades of public service as Baltimore mayor, governor and comptroller, Schaefer earned a reputation as a straight shooter with a made-for-TV persona, someone who, when told off or having seen a problem that needed fixing, ordered his staff to “do it now.”

I ran against and ultimately defeated Schaefer in 2006, but I have never forgotten the Schaefer mantra of being compassionate and getting results. It’s in that spirit that I launched the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Awards in 2012.

We present these awards, in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City, to an individual or organization that best exemplifies Schaefer’s lifelong commitment to helping people. We’ve honored people who aid vulnerable populations, nonprofit groups that improve the community and civic leaders who help solve a problem through effective government intervention.

With the awards now in their sixth year, you may think it would be getting more difficult to find worthy recipients. If anything, the real challenge lies in picking only one winner in each county.

It’s a testament to the amazing and often selfless work being done across Maryland by people willing to sacrifice their own time, driven by a desire to help those who are less fortunate or facing difficult circumstances.

For me, presenting the Schaefer awards is an opportunity to recognize those who don’t seek the spotlight and who aren’t looking for credit. It’s a reminder about the goodness of people helping their fellow man in times of need.

The holiday season provides an opportunity to consider how each of us can help others, and I encourage each of you to find a nonprofit in your area and see what their needs are.

Maybe clothes hanging in the back of your closet can be given to a local shelter; perhaps you can spend a few hours sorting donations at a local food bank or you can volunteer at a turkey trot race raising money for charity.

The Volunteer Maryland website – www.volunteer.maryland.gov – is a clearinghouse of resources to help you find the best match. There are literally thousands of opportunities from which to choose.

At the Comptroller’s Office, we’re encouraging our employees to take part in the Maryland Charity Campaign, an annual workplace giving drive that allows state employees and retirees to easily support more than 900 participating charities that provide meals to the hungry, services to the disabled, funds to research diseases, technology to clean the environment, and more worthy causes. Last year, state workers raised more than $2.9 million. This year’s goal is $3 million.

Whether you can best help others through money or manpower, make it a meaningful and rewarding holiday season by bringing a smile to someone else’s face.

I extend my best wishes to you and your family for an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving holiday.


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