Last week The Community Foundation of Frederick County celebrated its 37th Annual Report to the Community event at which we honored several individuals whose community service is profoundly impacting local organizations and lives.
The awards are made possible by a bequest from the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a well-known Frederick businesswoman and prolific volunteer whose legacy of giving continues through The Janis Miller Wertheimer Endowment Fund with the Community Foundation.
Each Wertheimer Fellow receives $25,000 from The Janis Miller Wertheimer Endowment Fund to either add to an existing Community Foundation fund or to create a new fund. The Wertheimer Fund also provides a $2,000 grant to a nonprofit of choice by the Youth in Action honoree.
Sharon Jacko, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, says that her most notable achievements are the projects she has been involved with around women’s initiatives and veteran wellness.
She helped guide Heartly House through a financial crisis and helped it grow into the thriving organization it is today. She helped ensure that veterans issues were included in the Health Care Coalition’s strategic planning, and she led the strategic planning efforts at the Literacy Council so the organization’s current staff and board can take the organization to its next level.
Sharon said that she draws motivation from life experiences that include the human suffering she saw when deployed to Iraq, her volunteer work in Afghanistan after her military retirement, and as a child watching her mother participate in volunteer activities.
Mary Ellis, who nominated Sharon for this honor, said, “In her limited years in Frederick, she has made an indelible impact and inspired others to do the same. She always asks what ‘more can we do’ and encourages us to think of new ways to approach problems. She has redefined volunteerism by making the most challenging tasks fun and engaging.”
With her award, Sharon is creating The Sharon and Jeanne Jacko Veterans Fund to support the greatest needs of veterans’ programs in Frederick County.
Patricia “Pat” Rosensteel, a former director of Frederick County’s Citizens Services Division, continues impacting lives through her volunteer endeavors. Currently the board president of Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (COIPP), much of her volunteer work is geared towards supporting children’s initiatives, although she has given time and expertise to many local organizations.
She said her notable achievements include securing grant funding for local organizations, helping to spearhead the Strong Families campaign via the ACEs Workgroup, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits through the Evening on the Riviera event. She says that “while my heart is in early childhood education, this naturally extends to the families of those children.”
Shari Ostrow Scher, founder and executive director of COIPP, nominated Pat for this honor. She said, “after working as the Director of Citizens Services and prior to that as Director of Frederick’s Head Start, Pat could have chosen a very different retirement path. Instead, she has led not only by sharing her many talents with others, but most importantly by sharing her heart. Her giving is nonstop. Frederick is so much better off thanks to her efforts.”
With her award, Pat is creating The Rosensteel Family Fund to support women and children with basic human needs.
Ilka Tona was honored with a youth in action award. The Middletown High School graduate is now in her freshman year at Emory University. She served as the president of Middletown High School’s Key Club last year and took part in food drives, Sleep in Heavenly Peace initiatives, Humane Society events, and Linus Project activities, among others. She was also in French Honor Society, Yarn Artists, Math Honor Society and Science National Honor Society.
Outside of school, Ilka volunteered with Frederick Health Hospital, as a helper at her church and as a student member of the Frederick County Immigrant Affairs Commission.
Yewande Oladeinde, who nominated Ilka for the Wertheimer Youth in Action award, said “Ilka volunteers and leads with thoughtfulness, kindness and a sense of purpose. Drawing from her Rwandese culture that emphasizes collectivism and volunteerism, she has lived up to these values by volunteering in activities that are meaningful and impacts the collective.”
Ilka directed her Wertheimer grant to support Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership (SHIP) of Frederick County.
Pragna Yalamanchili is a senior at Oakdale High School who has participated in a variety of organizations, initiatives, and projects, focusing on taking better care of our planet. She is active with the Interact Club, Mock Trial, Model UN, Environmental Club, Kindness Club, and she is a National Honor Society member and is on the varsity tennis team. Outside of school, Pragna volunteers at the Delaplaine Arts Center.
In January, Pragna traveled to Annapolis where she stood alongside other students and advocated for bills that would provide funding for compost programs in schools across the state. According to Pragna, community fellowship can only be achieved by participating in community events and fully immersing oneself in the community through volunteer work.
Joseph Richardson, who nominated Pragna for this award, said, “This much needed program educates citizens of the profound environmental impact which helps to reduce plastic waste, feeds hungry people and substantially reduces methane gas emissions.”
Pragna’s Wertheimer grant supported Mountainside Education and Enrichment, Inc. for its Lunch Out of Landfills program.
Thank you to each of our Wertheimer honorees for making a commitment to positively impacting our Frederick County community. Learn more about current and past Wertheimer fellows at https://www.frederickcountygives.org/learn/#wertheimer-fellows.