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Chamber counts on character

May 24, 2000|By JOSH POLTILOVE

Wade had just purchased lunch when he saw an older woman accidentally drop something.

As she started pulling out of the parking lot, Wade raced to tell her she dropped something, but his presence frightened her and she sped away.

"She bolted off like the little old lady from Pasadena," said L. Christian Murphy, Wade's boss at Standard Supplies in Gaithersburg, Md.

Wade looked in the envelope and found it contained $1,500 and an identification card. Recalling lessons learned from the Character Counts! Coalition program he had taken at work, he drove to her nursing home and returned the money.

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That was just one of the stories related at the Chamber of Commerce Character Counts! breakfast meeting Wednesday morning at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel. The purpose of the meeting, attended by about 75 people, was to convince more Hagerstown businesses to use the program.

The goal is to have more employees with better morals, which in the long run should increase profits for businesses, organizers said.

Character Counts!, a nonprofit organization, works on the assumption that who a person is makes a difference, and that a person can develop who he or she wants to be.

The program largely has been targeted toward children in the community, and Wednesday was the first meeting aimed at businesses, Williamsport Nursing Home Administrator Tim Berry said.

Berry said the concepts are not difficult, but putting together a program is complex. He said each business must be patient when learning how to incorporate the program.

"It is a legitimate initiative. It's needed in Washington County and everywhere," he said.

Murphy, president and chief executive officer of Standard Supplies, said his business has improved since it began the program in 1996.

He conceded that offering a $500 reward each year to the employee who best demonstrates the program's Six Pillars of Character - trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship - is part of the reason some are so morally conscious. He said all his employees now have better morals.

"From the lowest in the warehouse to the yard workers, they are all very conscious of their character," Murphy said. "I've just been amazed at how our people have gotten behind it."

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