Breidenstein works with Big Brothers Big Sisters organization

June 15, 2005|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Tom Breidenstein

Age: 40.

Occupation: State Farm agent.

Hometown: Ellicott City, Md.

Where would you see Breidenstein?: A graduate of the University of Baltimore, Breidenstein became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters shortly after moving to Hagerstown in 1989.

When a neighbor suggested that he would make a great board member, he agreed to give it a try and served from 1990 until December 2004.


Breidenstein became involved with the school-based mentoring program at Eastern Elementary School. When his first Little Brother's family moved to Frederick, Md., he was paired up with his current "Little," Josh Horton.

Josh, now 10 and a sixth-grader at E. Russell Hicks Middle School in the fall, was moved to another elementary school - an elementary school that was not involved with the school-based mentoring program. Breidenstein stuck by his commitment to Josh and they became a part of the community-based program, even though it required more of Breidenstein's time.

The pair try to spend time together on Tuesdays, often having dinner with Breidenstein's wife, Jale, and two daughters at their North End home. Tom tries to plan different activities, from watching Josh's baseball games, going to the movies or to a Hagerstown Suns game together, among other things.

Breidenstein's father, who was a State Farm agent for 30 years, long has been a role model for him. "He didn't push us, but he said find something you want and work hard at it," Breidenstein said. "You don't have to be an 'A' student, but whatever you decide to be, be the best."

That work ethic is something Breidenstein is trying to teach Josh, who has never met his own father. Tom is encouraged when teachers stop him in the hallway and say they have noticed an improvement in Josh's behavior and schoolwork.

Breidenstein said his goal is to help Josh become a well-rounded individual who understands that hard work will help him realize his goals and dreams.

Hobbies: Sports - football, basketball and golf - are important to Breidenstein. He also likes to work out at the Hagerstown YMCA.

The activities of his daughters, who will be in fifth and seventh grade in the fall, take priority in his schedule and he admits that sometimes it's a "tough juggle" balancing a busy office, family activities and making time for Josh.

What does Breidenstein like best about Washington County?: Breidenstein said he likes the low-key, slower pace of the county. The "country" setting, only a short drive from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is an environment that appeals to him and is a nice place to raise a family, he said.

Breidenstein said that in his business, the one-on-one contact that is his passion is key. A smaller community such as Hagerstown, as opposed to a bigger city, lends itself to that kind of contact.

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