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Couple inducted into state Senior Citizens Hall of fame

November 29, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Since Nancy and David Hutchins retired from teaching school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., they have been busier than ever and that's just the way they like it.

The sheer volume and scope of the volunteer work they've been doing since they made Washington County their home several years ago has now earned them places in the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

It seems amazing that they were able to find time to attend the luncheon honoring them recently in Glen Burnie, Md.

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Nancy Hutchins, 64, signed on with the Community Correctional Services Committee soon after a friend, Emma Lou Davis-Comstock, got both of them to attend a meeting back in 1996.

Carl Howe is the president of the Community Correctional Services Committee now and Nancy Hutchins is the secretary.

With that group as their launching pad, the Hutchinses soon got involved in the Alternatives to Violence Project at Maryland Correctional Institution, one of three state prisons south of Hagerstown.

After taking the training, Nancy Hutchins became a facilitator, meaning she trained the inmates so they could eventually carry on the Alternatives to Violence Project inside the prison walls.

Once David Hutchins, 65, got involved, he was overwhelmed by its impact.

"It's like you ignite something in a person," he said. "It's almost spiritual to see the transformations."

When he isn't involved in his prison work, David Hutchins also teaches GED classes at the Washington County Detention Center.

The Hutchinses were nominated for the Hall of Fame by several of their colleagues in their work with prisoners. An additional testimonial was submitted by an inmate, Douglas Scott Arey, whom the couple encountered at MCI.

"It's really touching that Doug would go to the trouble to nominate us," Nancy Hutchins said.

Now the Hutchinses are branching out in a new area through the Washington County Community Mediation Center Inc. at the Community Action Council building at 101 Summit Ave.

"This too is voluntary," said David Hutchins. "There was 50 hours of training involved."

Several years ago, Nancy Hutchins explained, an effort was made to establish mediation centers in each county, funded by grants through the state and donations.

Other mediation centers are in Frederick and Montgomery counties, Nancy Hutchins said.

Mediation is free to all residents of Washington County who need help solving conflicts. It could be help with differences between spouses or partners, parents and teens, co-workers, neighbors or friends, contractors, service providers, a teacher or school.

"The kind of mediation done by us is where people get to be heard," David Hutchins said. "We are neutral - we listen and then we try to determine issues. A list is then formed."

Nancy Hutchins has focused her efforts on landlord/tenant disputes and hopes that more people will seek out the mediation center for help in those areas.

The mediation center can be reached at 301-665-9262.

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