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Four volunteers recognized with People's Choice Awards

November 05, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

The Community Foundation of Washington County, MD, Inc., celebrated the contributions of four Washington County residents at Thursday night's fifth annual People's Choice Awards program at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway.

The foundation selects recipients for the People's Choice Award, people they define as unsung heroes who volunteer selflessly to improve the quality of life for Washington County residents.

This year's recipients were Anne Hinkle, Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot and James and Ethel Martin

"I learn so much when I give to others," said Hinkle, 87.

Since 1990, Hinkle has volunteered 4,095 hours with the Western Maryland Hospital Center Auxiliary on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown. She's also volunteered countless hours with The Maryland Theatre, Hagerstown Community College and several other local organizations.

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"At the college, the basketball players call me grandma," said Hinkle with a laugh.

"She's an excellent volunteer and she's very active for her age," said Western Maryland Hospital Center's Volunteer Coordinator Sharron Silvers, who nominated Hinkle for this year's award.

Hendershot was nominated for his work to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Stricken with polio as a child, Hendershot, 60, said he grew up walking with crutches. He is on a respiratory ventilator and has used a wheelchair since the 1980s, he said.

Hendershot founded Empowerment 2000, a local organization that promotes making public facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. He also founded Walk The Walk Inc., an advocacy group that raises money to help disabled people pay for devices that improve the quality of their lives.

The award came as a surprise to Hendershot, who said he appreciates the honor but doesn't seek attention.

"Being on a ventilator, I'm not worried about long-term investments. Long term to me is next Friday. I try to do what I can every day to make things better in our community," he said.

The husband-and-wife team of James and Ethel Martin, of Maugansville, in 1990 spearheaded a small group of community members who made themselves available 24 hours a day to assist people needing emergency shelter, food, medical attention and other forms of assistance. The effort resulted in the creation of REACH Inc. REACH stands for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

"I feel very honored and a little embarrassed, but it's nice," said James Martin, 71.

They said they're still amazed at how local community worked to form a network of churches and volunteers that helps people in need through REACH.

More than 300 people turned out for Thursday night's awards banquet, emceed by WHAG-TV's Lou Scally. A $5,000 endowment fund will be established at the foundation on behalf of each winner to benefit a nonprofit organization of their choice.

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