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Callaham credits teamwork, parents for her success

March 15, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- When Ruth Anne Callaham got word that The Daily Record had named her one of Maryland's Top 100 Women for 2009, the executive director of Food Resources Inc. in Washington County said she was humbled.

"People with high credentials have lifted me up," Callaham said. "It is exciting and just makes me want to do my job better."

For the past six years, Callaham has headed the organization now at 220 McRand Court that obtains, stores and distributes food to agencies and residents who are in need.

Callaham, who was nominated by Kathleen Perini, said she and Perini are friends and have crossed paths over the years through their work in a number of community-based projects.

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"You don't do this by yourself," Callaham hastened to add about the honor. "We have a terrific board at FRI -- I make recommendations and they make it work."

Callaham, 59, also pointed proudly to the dedicated FRI volunteers and staff who handle all the food that comes into and leaves the warehouse.

The challenges for FRI and a number of area food banks have increased as the economy has soured.

"We have people coming to us who have donated to food banks in the past but who are now using our services," Callaham said.

A native of Kentucky, Callaham and her husband, Art, have been a team for 37 years and have two grown children.

"We were best friends first," she said.

She is vice president of the Washington County Board of Education and is chairwoman of the board's Human Resources Committee. She also mentors accounting and business interns at Kaplan College to help them sharpen their skills.

In her career, Callaham has worked for the federal government and the military, has been on several faculties, and spent time as a chemist, microbiologist and full-time homemaker.

The Daily Record newspaper, which covers business and legal news, has since 1996 named more than 750 women to its annual list of Top 100 Women. The newspaper says it created the program to draw attention to the contributions being made by women throughout Maryland. It is designed to recognize women who have achieved personal success and have contributed to bettering the communities in which they work and live.

A May 11 ceremony is planned in Baltimore.

When thinking about her qualifications for the honor, Callaham credited her parents with shaping her from an early age.

"My mother, Irene Cardwell, taught me to be kind to everyone," Callaham said.

And she said her late father, Lew Cardwell, taught her to laugh -- a valuable tool when life gets too serious.

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