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Raised to serve

Years of volunteering helped prepare Martin

Years of volunteering helped prepare Martin

September 03, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Even before her employer took over the sponsorship of United Way Day of Caring four years ago, Sharon Martin was a team leader for her group of volunteers from First Data Merchant Services.

"It's just natural for me since I grew up in a household where you contributed to your family and beyond - it was expected," Martin said.

On Sept. 1, Martin's Day of Caring committee arranged for more than 200 volunteers from Hagerstown Trust, Fujicolor, GST AutoLeather, Citicorp, Mack Trucks, M&T Bank, Washington County government, Callas Contractors, Hagerstown Paint and Glass, F&M Bank, Columbia Gas, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, The Herald-Mail Co., Exchange Club, Long Meadow Rotary, Girl Scouts of America and First Data to address a number of projects.

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In all, 14 of the 21 United Way agencies in Washington County reaped the benefits of this unique event which launches the annual fund drive.

Martin, 37, is a native of Virginia Beach, Va., having graduated from Kempsville High School there - a school with 2,000 students. She also completed some college courses.

"I met my husband Rick in Chesapeake, Va., where he was on a horseback tour," Martin said. After they married, they moved to Frederick, Md., close to her husband's hometown of Mercersburg, Pa.

Now the Martins and their 9-year-old child live on a farm in Washington County where they have horses and cattle.

"We don't really use any of the United Way agencies ourselves but we still have a need to give back to our community," Martin said.

Each year, Martin and her committee start early to firm up all the details necessary to make Day of Caring a success. "I'm really a hands-on person so I actually miss getting dirty," she said, admitting she always enjoyed working on the projects before taking over the supervisory role.

The first year she participated, she recalls fondly that her assignment was to help paint at Girls Inc. in Hagerstown. "First Data picked up the sponsorship the next year," Martin said.

Having worked for First Data for the past seven years, Martin is now a unit manager, supervising 31 employees.

A company with just under 2,000 employees, First Data Merchant Services is at 1 Western Maryland Parkway. The firm provides merchant processing services for consumer and business payments worldwide.

"Employee satisfaction is vital if they are to be productive," Martin said. Because of the international nature of First Data's work, employees might not be inclined to get involved in the community in which they work.

For that reason, First Data sees the value of activities such as Day of Caring so employees can contribute their talents to the Washington County community. "We have found this really does increase employee satisfaction," Martin said.

Ironically Martin's enthusiasm for her work on Day of Caring in particular and United Way of Washington County has rubbed off on another member of her family.

"My mother lives in Florida and now she is involved in United Way there," Martin said. "She said it was because of me."

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