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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
With his children grown, Matthew Quinn found himself with extra time on his hands.
As a longtime Olney resident, he decided to use that extra time to serve his community, as president of the Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA).
Quinn, 61, and other officers were elected to a one-year term at GOCA’s Feb. 12 meeting.
As a longtime community volunteer, Quinn has also donated his time and talent to local schools, the Olney Boys and Girls Club, Olney Lions Club, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and the Cherrywood Homeowners Association.
In 2014, he learned that GOCA was looking for a recording secretary and he agreed to fill that role. He recorded the meetings on his cell phone and would later listen to the recording to transcribe the minutes.
“That gave me a real feel for GOCA and was a great introduction to things that were happening in Olney,” Quinn said.
He later served as the organization’s executive vice president, but then took time off to care for family members.
“Last year I re-engaged because I like local politics,” Quinn said. “There are no real red or blue jerseys; no Republican or Democrat component, or people putting party first. For me, it’s all about putting community first.”
He admires GOCA’s history and accomplishments and hopes to continue to grow the organization’s reputation.
“GOCA has been very respected among politicians over the years,” he said. “I am not saying that is not still the case, but I’d like the county to pay attention to us a little bit more. I’d like us to have a louder voice than we currently have.”
He gave the example of new businesses opening in Olney without the community having input on implications, including traffic and parking.
Depending on the application, there is not always an opportunity for community involvement during the county’s development process. Quinn would like to see that changed and codified in some manner.
He would also like to see Olney become more pedestrian friendly.
“Olney is not conducive to walking,” he said. “To me, a village is walkable and there is no village component here.”
Perhaps his biggest goal is to foster connections, within residents, businesses and organizations in the Olney area.
“The genius of humanity is connections,” he said. “That sense of connections has always been important to me. We need to connect and it makes us what we are. Connections are what builds a community.”
He has already connected with the Olney Chamber of Commerce and is looking forward to meetings with others, including the towns of Brookeville and Laytonsville, and the Sandy Spring Civic Association.
“Everybody’s agenda is slightly different, but we can all work together towards the common good,” he said. “I have been accused of being a consensus-builder and I recognize that as a strength.”
Quinn is confident in his fellow GOCA board members – David Miller of Norbeck Meadows as executive vice president, John Blachere of Ashley Hollow as first vice president, Hilary Phillips-Rogers of Victoria Springs as second vice president, Robert Hambrecht of Williamsburg Village as treasurer, Carol Frenkel of Olney Mill as recording secretary and Ryan Martin of Brookeville Knolls as corresponding secretary.
The board includes previous and new officers and men and women, representing different ethnicities and communities.
“It is a good representation and that’s something to highlight, since Olney is relatively diverse,” he said. “We also have some younger people on board, which I also think is very important for the organization. We need to find ways to get more young folks involved because they bring good ideas and a different skillset.”
GOCA meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Quinn says he realizes that attending monthly meetings may present a roadblock for some, but he wants people to know that there are many ways to help that don’t require attending the meetings.
Quinn takes over the position of president from William “Billy” Becker,” who served a one-year term.
“I did not know Matt before I became involved with GOCA, but he is a wonderful guy,” Becker said. “He’s been in the community for years and has got his thumb on the pulse of what is going on in Olney. He has an extremely balanced disposition. GOCA is in very good hands.”
Quinn retired from a phone company and now works for an information technology firm managing relationships.
“I don’t ever plan on not working,” he said. “I might not be getting a salary, but I plan on working until I can’t.”
Quinn and his wife Gina have four children, three grandchildren and another on the way. He describes himself as an avid gardener, growing flowers and vegetables year-round.
The next meeting of the Greater Olney Civic Association will be held March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Olney Community Room of the Buffington Re/Max Building, 3300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, and are open to the public. For more, go to www.goca.org.
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