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United Way of Central Maryland Honors Trailblazing Partners with Frank Miller Spirit of Partnership Award 

Ten organizations and individuals honored for their dedication and commitment to the community; Tere Geckle receives Clementine Peterson Award 

BALTIMORE, MD (July, 2021) – United Way of Central Maryland celebrated its partners for their work as pathfinders and trailblazers for their communities. At this year’s annual meeting, the 9th Annual Frank Miller Spirit of Partnership award was given to ten organizations and individuals to recognize their work to deliver what’s needed, where it’s needed. Recipients included Classic Catering, Taneytown Elementary School, Bel Air Methodist Church, Debbie Phelps, CareFirst, Baltimore County Government, Beth Brush, the Horizon Foundation, Sue Wolman, and RowdyOrb.It.  

“Each of our honorees has taken up the mantel of our mission to improve lives in the Greater Baltimore region,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our work would not be possible without the support of these important organizations and individuals. At our heart, we bring together partners to make major projects like the STEP (Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention) Program and closing the digital divide come to life to benefit those across our region.” 

The Frank Miller Spirit of Partnership award was established in 2013 and honors those organizations and individuals who exemplify the highest ideals of working in partnership with Untied Way on the community’s behalf. Honorees included: 

CareFirst, for the organization’s support of the 211 Maryland United Way Helpline. When Governor Hogan said call 211, call volume to the 24-hour a day, 365-day a year hotline quadrupled, leading United way to recruit nearly 100 volunteers to help deal with pandemic-related crises calls. Long-term partners, CareFirst helped ensure United Way had what it needed for 211 to respond to callers and thoughtfully address health-related needs. 

Classic Catering, Taneytown Elementary School and Bel Air United Methodist Church, for providing access to basic needs to our communities. Classic Catering owner Harriet Dopkin and her team delivered fresh, nutritious meals to Baltimore’s Morrell Park residents. And Taneytown Elementary School Principal Dr. Christy Farver and her team partnered with United Way of Central Maryland and Westminster Rescue Mission to increase access to food and other basic needs for families and children – especially those experiencing homelessness – in Carroll County. Bel Air United Methodist Church is a year-round partner in Harford County serving families, managing Amazon donations, and hosting Lowes Christmas tree giveaways and the United Way Stone Soup meal-making events. 

Debbie Phelps partnered with United Way of Central Maryalnd to support mental health in our region. An education and mental health champion, ambassador and advocate, Debbie worked with the organization to create and distribute mental health tool kits, and keynoted at United Way events, encouraging attendees with her family’s mantra, “It’s okay to not be okay,” all in an effort to eradicate the stigma attached to seeking mental health services. 

Baltimore County Government worked with United Way to create the Strategic Targeted Eviction Prevention (STEP) pilot program. The pilot kept nearly 1,000 families housed in just a few weeks early this year and led to the implementation of the program in several additional jurisdictions this summer. 

RowdyOrb.It partnered with United Way of Central Maryland to bridge the digital divide in South Baltimore. The pandemic’s disproportionate effect on low-income communities, especially communities of color, is exacerbated when they have little to no digital connectivity for work, school or family needs. Creative changemaker Jonathan Moore and his team at RowdyOrb.It worked with United Way and other digital equity advocates to ensure that low-income families in South Baltimore are connected to the internet and getting the devices and helpdesk support they needed. 

The Horizon Foundation for their work innovating and streamlining access to funding. The Horizon Foundation worked with United Way to create the Changemaker Challenge, an event focused on progressive thinkers who are ready to elevate, accelerate and activate their big ideas to make their communities even better, streamlining access to funding for local agencies at a time that they need to deliver as soon as possible. Now in its third year, Howard County’s Changemaker Challenge has now spurred the expansion of the program across the entire region. 

Beth Brush is a steward of funding. Understanding of local needs helps ensure that United Way of Central Maryland spends donor dollars wisely. An intelligent guiding light on the Anne Arundel Region United Network board, Beth has helped to strengthen funding decisions with her deep knowledge of health and human needs in Anne Arundel County. 

Sue Wolman has helped to propel United Way family centers. United Way’s family centers are created with a resident-driven, “from every angle” approach that has been nationally recognized. Sue is an advocate, advisor and funder whose wisdom and philanthropy has helped United Way of Central Maryland launch the original Ben Center Neighborhood Zone in the Brooklyn neighborhood of South Baltimore, and now, she is helping to do the same for teen families in the Poppleton neighborhood. 

United Way of Central Maryland’s Clementine Peterson Award was first endowed in 1971 to recognize outstanding members of the Women’s Council of our predecessor, United Fund of Central Maryland. Mrs. Peterson established the award to assure that the enormous contributions made by women were recognized. This year’s recipient, Tere Geckle, is recognized for her work as chair of Women United. A devoted volunteer, Tere has established herself as a mentor and role model. 

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United Way of Central Maryland promotes equity, creates opportunity, and improves lives by increasing access to basic needs such as health, housing, employment, and education. Learn more at