Meet Carroll Magazine’s distinguished Carroll Countians for 2005. We selected them on the basis of their ongoing commitment to our community and their tireless efforts to make Carroll a better place in which to live, work and play. Although they come from markedly different walks of life, all share a passion for giving –and for enriching the lives of others.
Meet Audrey Cimino: full-time whirlwind and matchmaker. The Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County is always on the go. She seems to be everywhere and know everybody– a prerequisite for helping match resources with the people and organizations who need those resources most.
A smart, strong-minded businesswoman and former banker, she possesses in abundance all the strategic skills required for success in business–plus extraordinary compassion and a deep drive to help others.
Trained as a lawyer, her attitude toward her brief experience practicing law helps explain what makes her one of Carroll’s most engaging and effective humanitarians. Twice Audrey dipped her toes into the deep waters of the law–and twice decided it wasn’t for her. “It just didn’t seem right to take money from people who needed help,” she said.
Audrey, who is the Community Foundation’s founding executive director, left her job as a new business development officer for Carroll County Bank 11 years ago to head the newly created agency. Working with a $50,000 endowment, $10,000 for operating expenses and an all inclusive Rolodex, Audrey has built the organization until it includes 115 funds (40 of those are scholarships) with total assets of $3.4 million. She estimates that the foundation has given away more than $2 million in the years she has headed it.
“A community foundation,” she said, “allows people to give their money and control of how it is used, while not having to worry about the financial housekeeping involved in grantmaking.”
Audrey spends her–you should excuse the expression–spare time serving on the boards of several local organizations and singing with the Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County.
Her husband Joe, a retired banker, shares her passion for music and the theater. Together they often perform at parties. They met years ago while auditioning for Man of La Mancha for a Baltimore theater.
As the community continues to grow, Audrey looks forward to building a bigger, better foundation. And there will be no more experiments with practicing law.
“I love this job,” she said. “This is the most fun you can have!”
The Martin K.P. Hill Family
Martin K.P. Hill is a developer–in every sense of the term.
Marty Hill, founder of the Hill Development Group, has constructed commercial properties and residential communities throughout Carroll County. In the 32 years he has run a business in the county he has employed hundreds of its residents and been responsible for pouring millions of dollars into the local economy.
And he, his wife Kelly, and their now grown children, Martin Hill and Jennifer Hill Bubczyk, give extensively of their time, their money and their talents to enrich Carroll County in a variety of ways.
Marty has lived in or near Carroll his entire life and has raised his children here. He has deep ties to the community and finds no problem rolling up his sleeves, or opening his wallet–or both–to help out.
A man of many talents, Marty recently won a chili cook-off competition at the Carroll County Agricultural Center with his buffalo chili, made with buffalo meat from animals raised on his son’s Lineboro farm.
Proceeds from the competition benefited Access Carroll, a local medical clinic created to help those in the community who have no health insurance. And true to form, Marty donated back to Access Carroll the cash prize for winning the contest.
Marty said that he and his family enjoy doing “civic stuff.” Currently, he is the vice chair of the McDaniel College Board of Trustees, serves on the county YMCA Board, and has been very active at St. George’s Episcopal Church. His wife, Kelly, is currently heading an endowment drive for Carroll Community College.
His daughter, an alumna of McDaniel, serves on the college’s student grant board and is a warden at St. George’s as well. Son Martin, an active businessman, farmer and young family man, gives to a variety of local organizations.
“This community has given a lot to me and my family,” he said. “It makes us all feel good to give back.”
To say that Virginia Harrison is mission-driven is a major understatement.
For the past 13 years the chair of the County’s Human Relations Commission has worked tirelessly to stamp out discrimination, whether it based on race, gender, sexual preference, or physical or mental handicap.
“We educate, mediate and network,” said the Eldersburg resident in explaining the commission’s approach to fighting discrimination in all its forms.
Virginia and her husband, Charles–currently president of Carroll’s NAACP Chapter–have lived in the county for 28 years and raised their family here. She has seen discrimination in many forms in the county, but she hastens to add that she believes the vast majority of the people of Carroll County work well together.
“A lot of how you solve problems has to do with how people approach problems; whether they are willing to work together–and most people here are,” she said. “In fact, one of the unique and wonderful things about this county is that people really work together well–they want their communities and their county to be a good place to live and work.”
“Eighty percent of the people in this county are good, caring, decent people; and 20 percent of countians–well, some of them aren’t too nice.”
Virginia is deeply concerned about how we treat each other–and most importantly, what we teach our children. “If we don’t teach our children to treat people well–then we have failed our children.” In her 28 years in the community, Virginia has seen a lot. “We’ve changed quite a bit. But we still have a long way to go.”
Despite its sometimes painful social shortcomings, Carroll is a place Virginia Harrison loves. “This is a really neat place–Carroll County. We just have to keep working to make it better.”
The artistic life of Carroll County has always been inhibited by the lack of space for galleries, art classes, and performance spaces.
Enter Sandy Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council, who has played a leading role in loosening up those inhibitions.
The Carroll Arts Center, opened under Sandy’s loving guidance two
and a half years ago, boasts an intimate hall for live performances or films, significant gallery space and several large, well-equipped classrooms where kids and adults can learn new skills or improve the ones they already have.
Converted from a vacant movie theater, the Carroll Arts Center was Sandy’s baby from the beginning. “I lived it, ate it, breathed it, and slept it,” she said with a laugh. “And I am thrilled every time I see a line at the box office.”
She’s come a long way, baby–this girl with New York roots. A trained musical therapist, she worked in the Big Apple with handicapped children and performed in dinner theaters.
She landed in Carroll County courtesy of her husband, George, who runs a retirement community outside of Washington, D.C.
Despite her big city background, Sandy is no artsy elitist. She believes you have to get people in the door for something they will enjoy before you can educate and challenge them. And if they just want to enjoy and not be educated or challenged, that is okay with Sandy, too.
“It isn’t really about pushing the envelope,” Sandy said of her mission.
“Some people want to be challenged; others don’t. It is important to give people what they want.”
At her bright and shiny Arts Center, Sandy is as ecstatic about attracting a crowd to see popular movies as she is about offering art house flicks that countians once had to travel to Baltimore or Washington to see.
Whether chatting about the evolution of the Center or upcoming features in the Center’s main theater, Sandy is ebullient: “I really have the best job–ever!”
For Ron Schroers, work is play.
The administrator of the Westminster Parks and Recreation Office wants to make sure that residents have fun ways to spend their leisure time: things that are exciting, things they enjoy and remember.
“I’m really lucky. Good things were already happening when I came to Westminster,” he said. But since Ron arrived here 11 years ago, Westminster’s recreation and parks program really began to pop.
Ron and his team have built Westminster’s Fall Fest into a weekend-long extravaganza that attracts thousandsÉand benefits worthy causes.
Under his leadership the city has developed a summer-long series of full day camps that serves 65 kids each week–offering them a variety of activities from games and crafts and swimming in the city’s pools to field trips to a variety of places.
But the project of which Ron is most proud is the Westminster Family Center. Housed in the austere stone building that was once the local National Guard Armory, the Center offers fitness facilities, an arcade for kids, basketball court, and day care facilities. Contrary to its fortress like appearance, the building is alive with the laughter of kids playing– and the grunts and groans of adults working hard at physical fitness.
Ron’s first effort to offer and expand Westminster’s fun opportunities came years ago when he was responsible for design and construction of a tot lot at Bishop’s Garth, a quiet neighborhood tucked behind Center Street.
“It was small, but it was really exciting to be a part of it,” he said. He is particularly proud of the Dutterer Family Park, a six-acre, combination-use facility behind Pennsylvania Avenue.
Ron fairly bubbles with enthusiasm for all recreation–great and small.
“We’re in the impression business,” he said. “When someone comes to a city park or participates in a program, they don’t leave with something tangible, they leave with an impression. We want to make a really great impression.”