Brooks uses connections to meet needs

December 16, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: This the second in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize individuals and groups who make the holidays better for others.

HAGERSTOWN - Santa Claus isn't the only one who depends on elves for help around the holidays.

Carolyn Brooks, director of the Maryland HotSpot Initiative in Hagerstown, said she gets "intelligence information" from a lot of sources who know of people who have needs.

"When I get the word, I try to fill those needs," Brooks said.

If she can't find a way to help someone through the HotSpot office, Brooks networks with some other group or agency in the community.


"I'm really connected in this town," Brooks said.

She said she is proud of the people of Hagerstown because when she puts the word out, results are usually quick to come.

Those efforts were noticed by an employee of the City of Hagerstown who suggested Brooks as a Christmas Angel for 2002.

"There are a lot of people out there who suffer in silence while others have fallen through the cracks in our society," Brooks said.

With the help of the community, Brooks has donated clothing, food and toys to needy families over the years.

One year, a call came in from a Smithsburg family that had a complete Christmas tree to donate, including the trimmings. Within hours, Brooks had found a home for the tree with a family that could not afford one.

Since 1998, Carolyn has, in conjunction with the HotSpot Program, found ways to help individuals and families have a better Christmas.

Her community work is not limited to the Christmas season.

"Character Counts is something we work on all year long and it's been a success," Brooks said.

All of the HotSpot initiatives are year-round projects.

Brooks said she is proud there are now four after-school programs funded through the HotSpot program - at Eastern, Bester, Fountaindale and Winter Street elementary schools.

"We encourage kids to do their homework as well as participating in play and organized activities," Brooks said.

The programs have generated positive feedback, she said.

Sunday: Billie Clopper, Coffman Nursing Home volunteer.

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