Unsung heroes needed now more than ever

August 12, 2002

Joe Tischer is not what you'd call an unsung hero.

The Hagerstown businessman has been the target of a roast at Hagerstown Community College, spearheaded the fund-raiser for the new Humane Society shelter and even participated in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge swim years ago. When he was younger, he ran marathons and sweat his way through triathlons.

He's out there. Lovin' life.

And yet Joe gives back to the community.

A few weeks ago I was at a Sunday Mass at St. Ann's Catholic Church when Joe got up in front of the congregation and asked parishioners to volunteer an hour a week at the Adoration Chapel, which is in the former convent, adjacent to St. Maria Goretti High School.

The Adoration Chapel takes an army of worshippers to maintain its vigil.

And then a few days after that Joe approached me at the Hagers-town YMCA and asked me to help him and the Community Foundation of Washington County get the word out about their People's Choice Award.


Marking its third year for the award, the Foundation honors three Washington County residents who work behind the scenes to make life better for others in the community. Each award winner is given $5,000 to establish an endowment fund at the Foundation for the nonprofit of their choice.

In 2000, the Foundation honored Mildred Fiery of Girls Inc. and the Western Maryland Hospital Fund, Dorothy Truax of Clear Spring Elementary PTA and Betty Willson of Social Services Help Center.

Last year, the Foundation gave the People's Choice award to Jean Wainwright of Food Resources Inc., Cindi Messersmith of REACH Inc. and Charles R. Rowe Sr. of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Washington County.

These are the real unsung heroes of Washington County.

And since the events of Sept. 11, it has fallen on unsung heroes like these six individuals to help get the country back on track again.

It seems as though the world changed on Sept. 11 and there was a string of bad news.

But lately, some really satisfying results have come about on some events that could have had devastating endings:

n Those nine miners were saved in Pennsylvania against all odds.

n A young Philadelphia girl was kidnapped, but escaped her abductors to tell her story.

n Two young women were abducted in California but were saved when the man who held them hostage was shot and killed by police officers.

n Twin girls, conjoined at the head, were separated in a miraculous 22-hour operation.

In each of these events, many unsung heroes contributed to the good news results that unfolded.

The country needed some uplifting events after what happened last September in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. With the war on terrorism that ensued, the almost daily suicide bombings in Israel and the jittery economy, it seemed like there was a black hole for bad news.

The great thing about this country is that there are people who make a difference every day. They do it on the national level, and they contribute right here in Washington County.

If you know someone who makes a difference in our community, give Joe Tischer a call at 301-733-3801 or the offices of the Community Foundation at 301-745-5210 or pick up an application form at the Foundation's office at 14606 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagers-town MD 21742. Nominations are due by Oct. 7 and a banquet to honor the People's Choice Award winners is set for Nov. 7.

I'm sure Joe would love to hear from you.

Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647 or e-mail at

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