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Born to serve

Saxman is CACâEUR(TM)s top employee of 2004

Saxman is CACâEUR(TM)s top employee of 2004

October 22, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

When it came time for Kathy Saxman to choose a career, the Community Action Council of Washington County's 2004 Employee of the Year didn't have to think very long.

"I grew up in a household with a father who was always helping people," Saxman said. And when she thinks about her grandmother, those memories center around her working with older people even when she was an older person herself.

So after earning her sociology degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pa., Saxman charted her career course through a variety of positions where the common denominator was helping others.

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Currently Saxman, 51, is director of housing for the Community Action Council where she supervises a staff of five in planning, securing funding and implementing the agency's housing development and housing counseling activities.

"I can still remember one of the first families I worked with when I came to Community Action Council in 1997," Saxman said. That family found out about the agency's programs and with Saxman's help, worked their way to home ownership.

"It still makes me smile just to think about that experience," she said.

Now Saxman and her staff are working with approximately 800 people a year with housing needs as well as such other concerns as education, job training, addictions, and mental and physical disabilities.

In addition to her people skills, Saxman has a background in planning and zoning as well as community development. That helps her with setting up the mechanisms to secure community block grants that pay for affordable housing for people who need it.

"I also have a love of writing and numbers - making numbers work - that lends itself to grant writing," Saxman said. "I have to get the money to do the work we need to do and that involves a lot of writing and research."

Several recent developments at Community Action Council have Saxman excited about the agency's future. Overhauling the its 101 Summit Ave. headquarters has improved client flow tremendously, she said.

"Now, the clients all come in on the Antietam Street side - all our service providers are there," Saxman said.

Another is the Community Housing Development Organization certification by the State of Maryland which makes Saxman's programs eligible for money to purchase and rehabilitate rental properties in Washington County.

"There is a big need for affordable rental units in this area," she said. By purchasing and remodeling units, the agency can offer them to qualified renters for less.

First-time buyers are also eligible for assistance through the agency's partnership with federal rural development, nonprofits and local lenders.

Married with two children, Saxman said she enjoys helping people who often have more problems than just finding affordable housing. "We don't just put people in housing and then walk away - we are there to help them with food, medicine, jobs or whatever else they need," she said.

Sounds like that family tradition of helping others is alive and well.

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