Community Foundation announces Wertheimer Fellows

Thursday, Sept. 7, 2006

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Bill Ryan⁄The Gazette
The Community Foundation of Frederick County president Elizabeth Day and chairman of trustees Hunt Hendrickson, presented the 2006 Wertheimer Fellows for Excellence in Volunteerism, Cecilla Bach, Marlene England, Jane Smith and Charlie Smith with awards at the foundation’s headquarters in Frederick on Wednesday.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County honored four volunteers as 2006 Wertheimer Fellows for Excellence in Volunteerism Wednesday.

Cecilia Bach of Frederick, Marlene England of Woodsboro and Charles and Jane Smith of Jefferson were officially recognized as Wertheimer Fellows for their selflessness and dedication to the community in a conference at the Community Foundation’s Frederick office.

The volunteers’ unpaid work in the community is varied and extensive, from England’s fight against hunger and homelessness to Bach’s assistance to displaced families from Hurricane Katrina. Charles and Jane Smith have given back to the Jefferson community for more than 55 years through their involvement in the Jefferson Ruritan Club and Frederick County 4-H among other organizations.

According to Elizabeth Y. Day, the Community Foundation president, this year’s fellows are ‘‘awe-inspiring” volunteers who inspire and lead others.

‘‘I think the selflessness of the 2006 Wertheimer Fellows set them above the other nominees,” Day said.

The Wertheimer Fellows for Excellence in Volunteerism is in honor of the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a Frederick County resident known for her volunteerism. Started in 2003, the Wertheimer Fellows is an initiative through one of two funds in her memory, the Janis Miller Wertheimer Endowment Fund.

Each of the honored volunteers received a $10,000 stipend to start or add to an existing fund at the Community Foundation or to contribute to a nonprofit of their choice.

Charles and Jane Smith have been married for almost 61 years, and have volunteered both together and individually throughout most of their marriage.

Charles Smith, 82, was humble in accepting the honor. As a member of the Jefferson Ruritans for 50 years, Charles Smith has a perfect attendance record.

‘‘What we’ve done we didn’t do to get the award,” he said.

According to 80-year-old Jane Smith, her volunteer work for organizations like the March of Dimes, Frederick County 4-H, Farm Safety 4-Just Kids Chapter and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jefferson grew out of the different needs in the community.

‘‘We saw a need and we tried to fill it. We tried to do what we could. It was always a joy to serve where there was a need,” Jane Smith said.

It was their early involvement in the youth choir at St. Paul Lutheran Church that they first met more than 60 years ago, Jane Smith said.

The Smiths will donate their stipend to The Frederick County 4-H Camp Center Fund.

Bach saw a different need when she watched Hurricane Katrina devastate the Gulf Coast last year.

She said she was inspired to help displaced families in any way she could. As a real estate agent, Bach called rental management companies and apartment complexes to find housing for 18 families who came to Frederick County.

Through her efforts, Bach was able to arrange not only housing for the families but also employed the help of furniture businesses, car dealerships and clothing stores.

When she knew she was selected to be a Wertheimer Fellow, she was in tears, she said.

‘‘It’s just overwhelming and emotional. I was in tears when they called me,” Bach said.

The money she received will benefit The Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County Fund at the Community Foundation.

Also a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, England was recognized for her efforts in fighting hunger and homelessness. She is the coordinator for the annual Communities Reaching Out to People (CROP) Walk to raise money for hunger relief around the world and in the local Walkersville community.

England has also played a vital role in starting Hope Alive, a new nonprofit and Christian ministry that provides assistance for homeless women and children.

She said she would use the Wertheimer Fellowship to create a new fund for Hope Alive.