Wertheimer Fellows Honorees Lauded for their Volunteerism
Every year, Elizabeth Day, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Frederick County, sorts through the nominations for the Wertheimer Fellows Awards, which honor local volunteers. Picking two adult winners and a youth recipient from a stack of worthy submissions is not easy. “Every year the caliber of citizen volunteer that is nominated just increases and to see the type of work that some of our citizen volunteers do in our community—it is not only heart-warming, but also shows how much we depend in Frederick County on volunteers,” Day says.
Now in its 15th year, the awards were named in honor of the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a well-known local businesswoman and volunteer. The two adult recipients are awarded $25,000 to establish or add to a permanent fund with the Community Foundation for the organizations of their choice. The Wertheimer Youth in Action Award was established in 2012 and provides the winner with a $1,000 grant to bequeath to their pick of nonprofit. The adult honorees’ funds will go on in perpetuity. “The best part about that is the recognition of their volunteer efforts will not just be for this current generation but also for generations to come,” Day says.
This year’s Wertheimer honorees are RaeAnn Butler, Dan Campbell and Vanessa Fox. “The depth and breadth of their volunteerism is amazing but also shows why they are so deserving of this Wertheimer award,” Day says.
From a young age, RaeAnn Butler recalls watching her parents volunteer. They “taught me, through example, that service to others helps us look beyond ourselves,” she says. “We can gain such a positive impact on our lives by doing for others. I really find it rewarding by participating in my community and contributing my time. I love it here and I want to give back to my community.”
The Frederick resident helped to start the Frederick County Senior Expo in 1991 and continues to assist in organizing the event through her work with the Elder Services Provider Council. She is on the board and volunteers with Heritage Frederick, formerly the Frederick County Historical Society. Giving back to her alma mater, she is president of the Hood College Alumni Executive Board. She is also heavily involved with the Carrollton Manor Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ.
Butler credits balancing her volunteer commitments with her full-time job as president/administrator at Edenton Retirement Community with being organized by and having great people to work with on each project.
With her award, she is creating The Butler Collins Community Impact Fund used to provide grants to various nonprofits that mirror her personal interests and passions. “I would just ask people to consider volunteering,” she says. “It is so personally rewarding and we need so many more volunteers to help others but, just in general, for the betterment of our community.”
New Market resident Dan Campbell says he is still trying to process winning the Wertheimer—an honor he didn’t even know existed until he won the award. When it came time to accept the Wertheimer, he had one condition—it would be on behalf of all the individuals, nonprofits and organizations he works with throughout his multiple volunteer efforts. “I don’t do this in a vacuum,” he says. “… If they didn’t exist, we would not be able to do what we do.”
Serving 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, he created through his award the Major Dan Campbell Veteran Services Fund with grants set to support Mission of Mercy and the Purple Moon Project focusing on veteran mentoring and peer support.
Campbell began volunteering a dozen years ago but became more heavily involved three years ago. “It became really clear—the deeper I got into helping other organizations out, the more it became how great the needs really are out there. Somebody needed to step up.”
And step up he has, by helping a number of organizations. Campbell is the director of the JustServe Initiative in Frederick which is a nondenominational website that allows nonprofits and faith-based and government organizations to post and advertise volunteer services for free. “There are so many people who do so much good,” he says. “All I really do is put together resources.” He also is heavily involved in the Frederick County Veterans Treatment Court and a board member for the Purple Moon Project, along with helping out with multiple organizations when a need arises.
The community’s homeless and low socioeconomic conditions became a topic of discussion during an English class at Tuscarora High School last school year. Vanessa Fox was one of the students who wanted to know what could be done to help. The Frederick resident, along with several other students, created “Welcome Home Kits” for the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs to give to families transitioning from homelessness to semi-permanent housing.
Yet Fox wanted to help more. She created The Local Love Project, a group at her school where students could give back by volunteering their time at the Frederick Rescue Mission. This school year, the group helps in the mission’s food distribution center the first Thursday of every month and makes dinner for the men living there the last Monday of every month. “I would say [the group] has been a big success,” Fox says. “We were glad to go and help. We have been helping out there every month and they are wonderful people. We love doing it. It is fantastic.” Her $1,000 grant will go toward the Rescue Mission.
The Tuscarora senior first became aware of volunteering while taking classes at 24/7 Dance Studio in Frederick. She saw teacher’s aides helping and thought it would be fun. Today, she is a teacher’s aide in a Monday night hip-hop class. She has also given her time as a tutor at Ballenger Creek Elementary School and at Frederick Christian Fellowship.
Giving back has always been a part of her life, so to get an award for her work was a tremendous honor. “I just really hope that more people will see the fact that if you give back and if you work hard for something you believe in, it will be rewarding to you in the future,” she says.