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Snyder feels like he's done something meaningful with his life

August 22, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN

marlob@herald-mail.com

While Dick Snyder's long, impressive career has been diverse over the years, there has always been one common thread - a steadfast devotion to the needs of children and families.

That pattern was woven early, beginning with his undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland in sociology and then a master's in human sciences at Hood College, Snyder said as he looked back on his 34-year career in social programs.

After a two-year stint in the military and a brief infatuation with a radio career, he stepped into his life's work.

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From 1971-74, he supervised a staff of 15 and directed youth programs at Washington County Community Action Council.

He spent the next 16 1/2 years with the Governor's Office on Volunteerism, Maryland Service Corps. During his tenure with that agency, Snyder, 59, developed and administered a statewide volunteer program involving more than 200 people in 60 agencies.

From 1991 until his July 1 retirement, Snyder was employed by the Washington County Department of Social Services as resource home coordinator for foster care and adoptions.

"In this agency, the work is difficult because people are in distress," he said. "But it has been very rewarding work, mainly because of the great staff and volunteers."

Those volunteers include foster families who take in children of all ages and circumstances, often with very little notice.

"Foster parenting takes a tremendous commitment," Snyder said. "I never say 'sacrifice' because the rewards can be so great."

The way the system works, people who want to be foster parents have to go through a lot of interviews, training and other requirements, Snyder said. He was responsible for the recruitment, training and support for foster and adoptive parents.

Once those placements were made, it was his responsibility to make sure the situations were reviewed regularly.

He plans to continue as an adjunct professor at Hagerstown Community College, a position he has enjoyed since 1976. And he also is joining the faculty at Shepherd University and Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield, W.Va., online, now that he has freed up some time in his life.

At those institutions, he said his life experiences enrich his teaching contributions to a new crop of people who also have a social conscience.

As for his private life, Snyder has been president of Head Start of Washington County for 13 years and continues to be active in Leadership Hagerstown.

He and his wife, Suzette, have two sons and five grandchildren. Suzette Snyder works with the Maryland Job Service.

"I'm happy with my choices," Snyder said. "I wanted to do something meaningful with my life and I believe I have."

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