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Day of Caring leader says involvement is 'just natural'

September 07, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Even before her employer took over the sponsorship of the 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," Martin said. "It was expected."

On Sept. 1, Martin's Day of Caring committee arranged for more than 200 volunteers from 17 organizations 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 the event, which launches the United Way's annual fund drive.

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

She met her 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.

The Martins and their 9-year-old child now 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 of 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 said 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 now is 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 may contribute their talents to the Washington County community.

"We have found this really does increase employee satisfaction," Martin said.

Martin's enthusiasm for her work on Day of Caring and the 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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