2017 Acts of Kindness Awards Finalists
Outstanding Community Service
"I have a natural ability to lead and spearhead efforts for those in need."
Renee Brooks cares about people and she believes in giving back. Renee is a retired Federal Government employee of 38 years. Being retired, however, has not slowed Renee down. If anything, she’s busier now than ever before. What’s more, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Starting before her retirement, and continuing through to now, Renee has been actively involved in helping people in need in the community. Eight years ago, Renee stood-up and is currently the Deputy Director of Employment Assistance Ministry, which offers job readiness workshops for those seeking employment. Renee additionally provides one-on-one counseling for those looking for employment. A good portion of Renee’s community ministry efforts are through her work as member of the Queen Jefferson Women’s Missionary Society, at Reid Temple A.M.E. Church, in Glenn Dale, MD, where Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is Senior Pastor. She has served on the ministry for 10 years, and has been its President for the past 5 years. In addition to serving as a local President of the Women’s Missionary Society, she serves as the 3rd Vice President of the Washington Conference Branch Women’s Missionary Society. As President, Renee ensures that the Queen Jefferson Women’s Missionary Society supports the mission and vision of the church and its ministries in whatever way necessary. In that role they reach inside and outside the walls of the church to transform lives, build communities and impact the world, wherever helping hands and willing hearts are needed, spreading the Good News to persons of all stations, races, and places. The good deeds of this ministry are widespread and plentiful. From visiting the ailing in hospitals and the infirm in nursing homes, helping the homeless, to raising money for scholarships, aiding the victims of famine and war through overseas missions, and hosting Christmas gift-giving programs for needy children. Also at Reid Temple, Renee manages the QJWMS Financial Assistance Program, which provides assistance to people who struggle with paying their rent, mortgage, food, and utility bills, and she is the leader of the Helps Council, which connects members to ministries. Renee has a natural inclination for leading and spearheading efforts for those in need, to include: parties for kids who live in shelters; collecting eyeglasses for people in Uganda, drives to collect sheets, blankets, pillows and more, and Thanksgiving Day dinner for residents of a men’s shelter in Prince George’s County; the Each-One-Feed-One homeless initiatives, providing lunches and dinner at the St. Elizabeth Hospital; the Sewing Circle of Love initiative, making blankets, dresses, and shorts for kids in Africa; partnering with other churches to make sanitary kits consisting of shampoo, soap, underwear, wash cloths and other personal items for girls in Africa; the Young Lives Baby Bottle Campaign (teen mom parenting program), having collected $5,000 to help send teen moms to camp along with their babies; the Food and Friends initiative, and helping to package food for meals for delivery to some 4,000-5,000 people who are terminally ill, providing food for students in need at Prince Georges Community College, partnering with other Reid Temple ministries, hosting clothing drives for the needy, providing volunteer support for Sisters4Sisters, Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, A Wider Circle, Central Union Mission Shelter, and collecting pill bottles for Haiti clinics. There is no doubt that Renee cares about people. She’s compassionate and caring and is dedicated to helping anyone in need and to sharing the love of God with others.
"I've fed over 6,000 people, and I plan to feed thousands more."
Lauren Puryear is a Cancer Survivor, Motivational Speaker, and Extreme Couponing Queen. She understands that living is less about her and more about the legacy she leaves behind. The 29-year-old philanthropist, mental health clinician and proud mother was born in Coral Springs, Florida and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. Lauren completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University, and possesses two Masters Degrees and later obtained her Ph.D. in Psychology. Lauren’s environment as a small child instilled in her the importance of giving back to the community. Lauren started a charity organization, For the Love of Others, LLC with a mission to assist those in need, specifically focusing on eradicating hunger. She has already fed over 6,000 people, and with a goal to feed 30,000 people before her 30th birthday, Lauren’s decision to celebrate the lives of those she can help instead of herself is commendable. Lauren credits her grandmother who taught her the significance of having "love for others." As a result, Lauren stands grounded in believing that if she can help somebody as she passes along; if she can cheer somebody with a word or song; if she can show someone that he or she is traveling wrong, then her living shall not be in vain. After beating cancer twice, Lauren's resilience and strength has been incredible! Lauren is a living example of overcoming life’s challenges, at the same time being able to help others appreciate one of the real treasures in life – which is love. Her goal is to share her story with the world in hopes to not only raise awareness but to inspire & encourage. Lauren and her son reside in Woodbridge, Virginia. Lauren prides herself in giving back to her community because the community is where she finds pride.
"I'm a role model for compassion and service. I strive to make the world a better place."
Robert Watson is a role model for compassion and service, and he continuously strives to make the world a better place. Robert is a member at Reid Temple A.M.E., in Glenn Dale, MD, where Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is Senior Pastor. At Reid Temple, Robert serves God through various ministries. He serves on the Greeters Ministry, showing others that he cares about them. He gives a genuine welcome with a genuine smile. He offers to help them find the sanctuary, if they have not been to Reid Temple before; he provides handouts and bulletins; he provides extra care for the elderly, and is on the lookout for anyone who may need assistance, so as to open the door or offer help. Robert also volunteers his time with various other ministries: he helps with the Kitchen Ministry and at Reid Temple’s Community Fair, an annual event hosted by the church and attended by some 5000 people, you’ll find Robert helping with the Fish Fry. What’s more, as a Residence Hall Monitor at the Allen House Senior Citizen Housing, in Washington, D.C., Robert works to ensure EVERYTHING is okay. He communicates with the housing administrators, residence, and guests. He appropriately directs visitors to the appropriate place, and provides information and assistance, where ever needed. Robert takes immediate appropriate action in the event of disturbances, fire, severe weather, illness or injury. He goes above and beyond to ensure residents are okay, to include helping them bring in groceries, and running errands to get medicine, when residents are unable to do so.
"My mission is to help others, while offering hope, motivation, and encouragement."
Joan McNair Dorsey holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Reading, and the other in Counseling Psychology. She is a retired educator from the District of Columbia School System. Helping others is her passion, and Joan goes above and beyond to do so. As an example, Joan uses evidence- based strategies and research assessment tools to identify specific reading areas that will strengthen individual needs of students. She truly enjoys helping others to master basic, critical, and higher level thinking skills in reading comprehension. An extension of her teaching reading transcends to higher education domains; specifically Prince Georges College, Trinity and Bowie State Universities. Joan also tutors, provides assistance with homework, presents workshops, and is an active resource for educational and career opportunities. Joan is dedicated to helping others find their way. Many of Joan’s volunteer efforts are through her church, Reid Temple A.M.E., in Glenn Dale, MD, where Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is Senior Pastor. She serves God through various Missionary Ministry efforts: she helps with the Missionary Ministry’s “Warm Nights” initiative, where the homeless are invited to a week-long program consisting of meals, bible study and various other activities; she helps with the “Financial Assistance Project” – helping those who struggle to pay their mortgage, rent and utility bills; and each November, Joan helps to distribute turkeys to families in need. She supports the DC Young Lives Program whereby young girls are given guidance, and mentors while carrying their babies and as they mature through stages of their development. Joan also helps at a homeless shelter by providing clothing and a full meal on Thanksgiving Day. Additionally, volunteering at the SOME ( So Other Might Eat Program) Organization. During the Christmas Holiday, she looks for homeless people along the streets in Washington, D.C. and puts $5.00 in their hands. Joan is also passionate about prison reform. She is an active supporter of the Re-Entry Roundtable for Prince George’s County, MD, a diverse group of individuals and organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of returning citizens from jails and prisons. Joan also attends court hearings and writes to and contacts delegates to express her views on pending legislation. She lobbies in Annapolis for the rights and justices of persons given disproportionate and lengthy sentences for offenses. Joan additionally supports the Maryland Alliance for Justice and Reform, a bi-partisan, statewide alliance seeking legislative changes indispensable to bring Maryland into the 21st century with corrections policies that are evidence-based, humane and effective. Joan also support the Clarion Call which is a non profit organization that educates at risk young people by providing a path of active support services for prison intervention and prevention. Additionally, Joan supports the Alzheimer, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Childrens' Programs. She works tirelessly in researching essential programs for persons with disabilities. She strongly believes that persons with disabilities should be given every opportunity to have a quality and productive life in society. She finds it a necessity to educate persons about their power and influence in the voting process and actively works with Voter Registration.
She has served as an alliance to the SECME program (Science, Engineering, Math and Program), and counseled young people in the Summer Youth Employment Program. She also has participated in the Prince George’s County Literacy Program and is an advocate for adult education. Joan also has drawn from her Master’s in Counseling Psychology and served as a volunteer at a drug counseling center. Suffice it to say, Joan’s mission is to help others, and she does so freely, while offering hope, motivation and encouragement in everything that she does.
Joan is a beloved wife of 37 years, and is the mother of an adult son with a neurological disorder identified as Tourette Syndrome. She finds that she must continuously be an advocate, and support for him. Consequently, making strong efforts to heighten the awareness and sensitivity of Tourette Syndrome to schools and the community.
"My life's mission is to speak out on behalf of those who cannot."
Deborah Shipman – truly believes we are living in the days of challenges and changes and devotes her time doing something about it. She believes we must educate people to bring about effective change. Deborah is driven by passion and a vision for a better future, especially for those who are less fortunate. She is a civil rights advocate and is very involved in her community. She is an active supporter of various non-profit organizations: Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform, The Clarion Call, and the Re-Entry Roundtable for Prince George’s County, and Maryland CURE . Some of the organizations’ members includes concerned citizens, returning citizens, faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and governmental representatives.
Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform (MAJR) was organized in 2014. It is a bipartisan, statewide alliance that advocates for legislative reforms of Maryland’s criminal justice system that emphasize rehabilitation and restorative justice over mass incarceration and punishment.
MAJR addresses inequities and aid citizens returning from prison. It raises awareness and understanding, among citizens of Maryland, of mass incarceration, and promote positive alternatives.
The Clarion Call was organized in June 2011 and is an outreach and collaborate organization supporting both the nonprofit and the at-risk youth needing services. The youth are then referred to the appropriate provider for support. Clarion Call provides community awareness, civic engagement, and alert the community about issue. It bridges the gap between the at-risk community and a collaborative network of providers.
Re-Entry Roundtable for Prince George’s County (PGC) was organized in 2010 is a diverse group of individuals and organizations dedicated to making a difference in the lives of returning citizens from jails and prisons in PGC. The Roundtable goal is to explore the re-entry process of ex-offenders later termed “returning citizens” from both federal, state, and county institutions.
Deborah was greatly involved in the Roundtable's strategic planning group. She spearheaded a group called "Concerned Citizens for Incarcerated Individuals in jails and Prisons." She continued diligently to seek and identify organizations that were sensitive, knowledgeable, and advocates about human rights. The task was completed, and she now collaborates with those organizations to collectively bring about a change.
Maryland CURE is a state chapter of National CURE, an organization dedicated to reducing crime through reform of the criminal justice system since 1972. CURE believes prisons should only be used for those who absolutely must be incarcerated. Prisons should not be used as warehouses for humanity. CURE supports many prison ministry and advocacy groups. It is instrumental in making sure that everyone knows who their legislators are and assist people in voter registration.
Deborah is a Certified Voter Registration Volunteer for the Prince Georges County Board of Elections and gone to a transitional home, adult daycare facilities, and other cites to register people to vote. She informed the Director of the home and daycare educational voting website for their clients. Deborah has registered over 50 individuals with disabilities, returning citizens, and others to vote in this year’s elections. In previous years, she served as an election judge and will continue to serve as provisional judge for this election.
During her past years with the government, Deborah had an enjoyable and rewarding experience to serve as a co-manager for the special emphasis programs (people with disabilities, Native Americans, Hispanics, Hispanics, and Asian Pacific). Deborah now loves the arts (painting, writing poetry, and dancing). At Reid Temple African American Episcopal Church, where Rev. Dr. Lee P. Washington is Senior Pastor, Deborah was active in the prison ministry and continues to be active in the AME Reflections of God Ministry of Dance.
Deborah can also identify with many African American families with love one in prison. As a mother of two disabled children. She is an advocate for those with disabilities and incarcerated. She has attended community meetings and reached out to local delegates to heighten awareness on issues concerning individuals with disabilities and incarcerated. Deborah’s life mission is to speak out on behalf of those who cannot, to ensure their ability to participate in the civil and political life of the society without discrimination or repression.
Mary Frances Garner
I'm a Super-Senior and I love sharing and caring for others."
Mary Frances Garner is 82 years young and a devoted wife of 52 years to Reverend Carter S. R. Garner. Mary has a wonderful caring and giving spirit. As a cancer survivor, her entire career has been service-oriented. She is a retired Licensed Practical Nurse from the historical Freedmen’s/Howard University Hospital, in Washington D.C., having provided care for people who were sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled. The Freedmen’s Hospital was founded in 1862 in Washington, D.C., and was the first hospital of its kind to aid in the medical treatment of former slaves. Later it became a teaching hospital for the Howard University Medical School, and in 1967, Freedmen’s Hospital was taken over by Howard University. Mary attends Park Road Community Church, in Washington D.C., under the leadership of Reverend Dr. Shirley B. Cooper, and at which Mary’s husband is an Associate Minister. Park Road Community Church is a Bible believing church that carries out the mandate of making disciples by demonstrating the love of God by serving both the spiritual and natural needs of the local community. Mary is a member of the Board of Deaconess at her church, and she actively serves God by volunteering her time and talents to various ministries, to include: We-Care, the Women’s Christian Fellowship, the Nutritional Lunch Program, and the Benevolent Ministry. Mary is also involved in the purchasing and providing of food, clothing, medicine, school supplies, uniforms, toys, and books to those in need. Mary is a “Super-Senior.” In addition to her volunteer efforts through her church, Mary also performs volunteer efforts in support of the Christ House Shelter for Men. The Christ House provides comprehensive and compassionate health care to the sick and the homeless in the District of Columbia, and it assists them in addressing critical issues to help break the cycle of homelessness. Mary also performs volunteer efforts in support of the Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network, a nonprofit organization that conducts gleaning activities in the National Capital region to harvest food from fields no longer commercially viable. Volunteers pick, sort and deliver the fresh produce to food banks, churches and other partners. Annually, the Atlantic Gleaning Network provides more than 8 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to hungry people throughout the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. Mary is the mother of a proud son and a loving daughter, three adoring grandsons and two awesome great grandchildren (one great granddaughter and one great grandson). Mary’s favorite scripture is Psalm 27:1-14. Mary loves sharing with and caring for others. To God Be The Glory for Mary Frances Garner.
Marvin Thorpe, II
"My family enterprise has taught generations of Baltimoreans how to swim."
After learning how to swim at age four, Marvin Thorpe, II’s dad, Marvin Thorpe, Sr., demanded that he perfect the art of teaching swimming. His dad, “Mr. Thorpe” as thousands have known him, founded the 4M Swim Club (4MSC) in the summer of 1972, and it is believed that Mr. Thorpe taught more than 15,000 students how to swim over approximately 32 years in the Woodlawn, Maryland area. The young Mr. Thorpe worked alongside his father for over 26 years; improving and refining his instructional and training skills as he watched and studied his dad teach swimming. Twelve years ago when Marvin Thorpe, Sr., departed this life, Marvin Thorpe, II took over and is continuing his father’s legacy. He is now the President/Program Director of 4M Swim and Recreation, Inc. Marvin Thorpe, II also teaches and trains swimmers in the same backyard and the same very place where his father taught him how to swim over 40 years ago. The Swim Club is continuing to grow. With the recent addition of the Yellowjacket swim team and other recreational activities for swimmers of all ages, Mr. Thorpe strives to reach the goal of everyone in the community having a basic knowledge of water safety and no one losing their life by way of drowning. “I strive not only to swim but create a culture for the entire community that revolves around swimming.” It can be said that the 4M Swim Club has taught more African-Americans how to swim in the Baltimore Metropolitan area than any other learn to swim entity. The 4M Swim Club will not stop with that alone, however. Mr. Thorpe has plans to reach the entire community with a particular emphasis on individuals with special needs. The future plans for the 4M Swim Club include an indoor aquatic health and wellness facility that will service the entire metropolis targeting a more healthy state of being for all using water as the preferred medium. Marvin Thorpe, II devotes his time, talents, and expertise to serve the public good, and has made significant, demonstrable, and direct contributions to the well-being of those in the community.
Outstanding Human Services
Food Link, Inc.
"More than food and essentials, we provide comfort and hope."
Spring Dell Center, Inc.
"Our services for adults with disabilities humbly stems from the basement of a church nearly 50 years ago."
Dedicated to assisting adults with disabilities, Spring Dell Center, Inc. provides a number of services focused on enhancing the quality of life people with disabilities desire within the community. Through continuous support and opportunities, services are designed in consideration of every participant’s interests, preferences, strengths and challenges to ensure each person achieves the highest level of independence possible. Currently, the center employs over 150 staff that focuses on various areas of daily living including employment placement, social connections and residential assistance, as well as transportation services for over 200 adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities in Charles County, MD. This is a long way from the organization’s humble beginnings in the basement of a church nearly 50 years ago.
Originally organized as the first county day care program for disabled children under the Charles County Handicapped and Retarded Citizens Association in 1962, the program was separately incorporated in 1967 becoming known as Spring Dell Center, Inc. As other local programs began serving the most capable segments of the county’s developmentally disabled citizens, Spring Dell made efforts to serve the segment of this population that required more specialized and intensive services. Three years later, in 1978, Charles County Public Schools began a program for all children, irrespective of handicapping conditions and the center’s 30 children were transferred to the appropriate school placements, thus Spring Dell began concentrating on vocational and prevocational training for adults.
Residential services began in 1980 with the acquisition of two wheelchair accessible houses in St. Charles as part of the Southern Maryland Demonstration Project. This project was one of Maryland’s first efforts to provide residential services to more challenging, severely and profoundly handicapped adults in the community, rather than an institution. Today, residential services are provided for 20 homes and apartments throughout the county.
The center’s growth has led to the continuous expansion of not only the organization’s residential program, but a transportation fleet of approximately 60 vehicles and supplementary programs such as Music Therapy as well as Movement and Wellness. Keeping with the organizations motto “Employment and Community First”; partnerships have expanded to foster individual skill development throughout Maryland at places like Meal on Wheels, Farming for Hunger, Freedom Hill Horse Rescue and St. Charles Town Center. Additionally, renovations to the center’s two Hooks & Hangers Quality Resale stores have increased sales, bringing in added funding to support programs and, thanks to hand over hand training, success stories are on the rise!
Whether it is providing supports so a person can take his or her first steps, obtain their first home or a simple paycheck, agency staff continues to bridge the gap between the development of personal goals and the achievement of them. As the organization moves towards Maryland’s Employment First Initiative, fostering integrated employment opportunities for individuals within programs, agency staff will continue to strive towards developing a stronger Maryland by being advocates for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, ensuring the aspirations of each person supported by the organization’s programs become reality.
Good Samaritan S/Hero
"She was in distress. Without hesitation, I did what I needed to do to save her."
The actions performed by Jason Barnes during a torrential rainfall on July 30th, 2016, in Ellicott City, MD, illustrate the epitome of a Good Samaritan. The heavy downpour caused severe flash flooding and destruction to the historic Old Town portion of the city. It resulted in two fatalities and hundreds of vehicles and buildings being significantly damaged, including Jason’s own new business, All Time Toys, and his Mercury Grand Marquis. Even so, when Jason saw a woman trapped in a car that was being washed down Main street by the rushing water, he put his own life on the line – plunging into knee-deep water, and battling his way to her car. Jason made a human chain, grabbing the hands of others, which allowed him to get to the woman. After several attempts, Jason was able to reach the woman, lift her out of her car, and pull her to safety. If not for Jason, the woman would have likely drowned. Jason’s actions on that day emulates what Good Samaritans do; they just do what needs to be done to help someone in distress. Undeniably, Jason Barns will forever be admired for his brave and selfless acts during the Ellicott City flood.
Rev. Hollie Lopes
"I have a HUGE heart for victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence."
Rev. Hollie Lopes, otherwise known as Rev Hollie, has an extraordinary heart for the people of God. She cares regardless of where they come from, what their circumstances may be, and in spite of their religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political party, and/or economic status. Rev. Hollie sees people with her heart and not with the eyes and ears of the world. Rev. Hollie is founder and Assistant Pastor of the Priceless Gems ministry at Beloved Community Church, located in Accokeek, Maryland, where Rev. Guy Molock Jr. and Rev. Dr. Sherry Molock are founding Pastors. The purpose of the Priceless Gems ministry is three-fold: 1) educate the community and church; 2) develop meaningful relationships with survivors; and 3) support organizations that provide shelter, clothes, food, and critical life skills to survivors of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. Rev. Hollie is also the founder and Executive Director of Open Arms Ministries, whose purpose is to establish educational awareness platforms, equip churches and other faith base organizations with the necessary information to impact their communities, and provide the critical and essential necessities to survivors of Human Trafficking, Domestic Violence, and prison gentrification. Rev. Hollie’s commitment to the survivors of these social justice travesties led her to become an active participate of the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Taskforce and the Maryland State Human Trafficking Taskforce. The Priceless Gems and Open Arms ministries have established partnerships with FAIR Girls, Courtney’s House, and Still I Rise, Inc. These three phenomenal non-profit organizations focus on Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence awareness, survivor services and benefits, legal affairs, and mental health support.
Through Rev. Hollie’s ministries, and by utilizing established partnerships and existing Human Trafficking task forces, Rev. Hollie has hosted several educational seminars that focus on Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence. Providing what survivors need is Rev. Hollie’s main heart burden. She works diligently with intake centers, emergency centers, and temporary housing services to understand what survivors need and holds fundraising/collection drives to obtain what’s needed: furniture (bureau’s, mattresses, storage units, TV stands, and book shelves), arts and crafts supplies (paints, crayons, coloring books, journals, markers, art paper and paint brushes), games, Winter garments, Christmas gifts, housing supplies (paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning supplies, toiletries, garbage bags, etc.), grocery for a house of 10 (3 meals a day with snacks), beauty supplies (braiding hair, gel, combs/brushes, caps, shampoo, conditioner, and head wraps), intake backpacks (sweat suits, undergarments, socks, deodorant, tooth path and tooth brushes, feminine products, razors, lotion, body wash, and tissues), and money for street ministry. Rev. Hollie has also introduced survivors to the Theater and Arts, taking them to the Kennedy Center for two different engagements: a musical theater performance and theater art. The ultimate event that Rev. Hollie cherishes is a Christmas Party held in December 2015 for survivors who never experienced a Christmas sleepover or had a Christmas tree.
Rev. Hollie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business and International Finance from Northeastern University, a Degree in Programming from Cambridge Institute, an Executive Management Diploma from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University School of Divinity. Rev Hollie is also a Technology professional with over 25 years of experience in the field. In addition to her Technology career and her devotion to Ministry, Rev. Hollie is a mother of two wonderful children, Emarii and Andrew. Emarii is a Senior at Mary Baldwin University and Andrew is a Senior at Riverdale Baptist High School.
Rev. Hollie does not treat anyone like a stranger. Her hope is that others will see the hearts of victims and join in the social justice movement of showing God’s unconditional love to His people. Through it all, Rev. Hollie gives all the glory, honor, and credit to God for all the great things He is doing through her and her ministries.