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Wurmb takes action for Hagerstown-area seniors

November 11, 2008|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Edward "Ed" C. Wurmb III might be fairly new to Hagerstown, but the Annapolis transplant brings with him a political savvy that he hopes will benefit local senior citizens.

Wurmb and his wife of 47 years, Mary "Lou," moved to a home in The Hamptons at Brightwood development five years ago to be closer to their son and 6-year-old granddaughter, who live on Spielman Road.

Three years ago, Wurmb, 67, gained a new perspective after recovering from a serious illness.

"When I got better, I thought, 'I'm lucky. I'd better share some of that luck,'" he said.

A longtime member of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), he remained active in the organization after he retired from Fort Meade after 36 years of employment.

He started volunteering for the Washington County Commission on Aging, preparing tax returns for seniors. That introduction to some of the issues seniors in Washington County are facing got him thinking about what was needed locally.

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As the Washington County representative on the legislative committee of NARFE, Wurmb had the opportunity to testify in Annapolis and was familiar with issues that did not get passed.

Looking for another way to engage county seniors in issues and get the attention of legislators, he formed the Washington County Senior Coalition. He has since partnered with the Commission on Aging to reach more seniors.

"When I got into the nitty-gritty of the forum, I brought the Commission on Aging in," Wurmb said. "We did it jointly because it was more than I could do by myself."

The first effort of the Senior Coalition was to present a forum Oct. 6 at the temporary Washington County Senior Center at Girls Inc., with the hopes of making it an annual event.

Wurmb reached out to organizations that work with seniors -- without asking for money from anyone -- to do something good for local seniors.

Members of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly were invited to share what they will be doing for county seniors in the upcoming session.

"My goal is advocacy, to advocate for seniors in Annapolis or with Washington County Commissioners," Wurmb said. "I had an idea no one else had tried. I thought I had nothing to lose. If it worked, it would help a lot of people."

Hoping that 30 seniors would attend the senior forum, Wurmb was thrilled when 119 seniors turned out. He also was pleased with the audience participation at the forum.

"It was very encouraging ... I think we've gotten over a major hump," Wurmb said. "We're recognized as something to be heard."

He said the next step is to organize another forum in the spring, this time with the Washington County Commissioners. One item that will be on that agenda is the need for a permanent senior center in Washington County.

What started as a way for Wurmb to meet people after moving here has become a passion, his wife said. She said he's been busy every day since moving here, including a two-year stint as president of their homeowners' association.

The Wurmbs have two sons and three grandchildren.

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