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GOCA honors those ‘who make our town a better place’

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

For Dee Hawkins, the Greater Olney Civic Association’s 2017 Howard J. Garber Citizen of the Year, serving others is something that is deeply ingrained within her.

“I just grew up knowing this is what you did,” she said. “My family was very involved in volunteering. My dad played a huge part in the direction the City of Rockville and Montgomery County took in the 1950s.”

She took to heart the motto at her high school, Ursuline Academy in Bethesda, of “We will serve,” and at her college, Wheeling College, of “Men and Women for Others.”

“I was a product of the baby boomers,” she said. “As John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you …’”

As a military family, Hawkins said she and her husband Paul got involved in whatever was needed in the communities they lived in, whether through youth sports, their church or other activities.

“That’s how we made it a home, by getting involved,” she said.

Hawkins has lived in the Olney area most of her life, except for the 20 years when Paul served in the military. She has had her hand in many of the organizations that shape the community.

She was involved with Boy Scouts with her son and Girl Scouts, where she led a troop for 13 years in Burtonsville, because that is where there was a need for leaders.

She has been a member of the Olney Lions Club since 1994 and as served in many roles, including secretary, treasurer and president. Broader leadership roles within Lions include district governor, global membership coordinator and council chair.

She joined the Women’s Board of Montgomery General Hospital (now MedStar Montgomery Medical Center) about 12 years ago. She served two two-year terms as president and has chaired the successful Annual Picnic and Bazaar for nine years.

Hawkins manages the Women’s Board Thrift Shop and schedules the volunteers.

She has been a board member for the Sandy Spring Museum and co-chaired last year’s Strawberry Festival.

Hawkins has served on the hospital foundation’s board of directors and is president-elect of the Maryland Association of Hospital Auxiliaries.

As for being named Citizen of the Year, Hawkins says she is humbled and honored.

She said she looked at the list of previous Citizen of the Year winners, dating back to 1978, featuring the names of key leaders in Olney’s history.

“It means a lot that someone thought I belong in that category,” Hawkins said.


A day to honor those who give


The Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA) honored Hawkins and others at its 40th annual Awards Ceremony on March 18 at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.

“GOCA believes our community is a special place because of the people who live and work in it,” said awards program chairwoman Barbara Falcigno. “The awards ceremony is an opportunity to recognize the people and organizations that step up in big and small ways to make our town a better place. Nobody does what they do to win an award. Instead, they do what they do because they see something needs to be done.”

Over 30 homeowner and civic associations make up GOCA’s membership and each member has two representatives.

Every year GOCA accepts nominations from the entire community, compiles a ballot and then GOCA representatives vote for the winners in each category.

“Every year we receive excellent nominations and this year was no different,” Falcigno said. “Several of the nominations have been highlighted in The Greater Olney News over the year and others work quietly in the background. Every nominee is unique and makes an impact on life in Olney.”

GOCA’s immediate past president, Greg Intoccia, said the organization recognizes that a sense of community occurs when people care about each other.

“Each one of our actions affects those around us in both things large and small,” he said. “GOCA recognizes these award recipients because through their actions they have enriched all of our lives in tangible and in intangible ways.”


Other 2017 GOCA Award winners


President’s Award — Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services

The award was selected by GOCA’s outgoing president, Greg Intoccia, and was kept a surprise until the awards ceremony.

Intoccia said he chose to honor the two organizations because there were several major fires over the past year and the two organizations handled each of them in an outstanding manner.

“In some small way, this award expresses appreciation for their professionalism and for the fact that we recognize that each firefighter risks much to protect our lives and property,” Intoccia said. “We also recognize the considerable hard work and training that was required for them to handle these situations so well. Through their selfless acts, our firefighters inspire the rest of us to be the best version of ourselves.”

Contribution to the Community — Emily Grunwell and Jennifer Clark.

For more than 10 years, Grunwell has often been spotted picking up trash along Olney roads. She painted the basement of her Olney home to replicate the inside of an ancient Egyptian pyramid and has welcomed in school groups to learn about the images.

Clark has worked at Shoppers Food and Pharmacy as a cashier for 27 years. She is known for being kind and patient and has developed a following of grateful customers.

Youth Contribution to the Community — Ambika Sikri

Sikri is a senior at James Hubert Blake High School and was instrumental in resurrecting the school’s LEO Club. Under her leadership, the club participated in the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade and the Wreaths Across America ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, created a staff appreciation program and raised money to support the United Nations Children’s Education Fund and hurricane disaster relief in Texas and Puerto Rico.

GOCA Worker of the Year — Dave Miller

Miller organizes the annual Cashell Road cleanup. He has served as a GOCA representative, second vice president and first vice president, and is always available to help in any way needed. He has been instrumental in working with the county on repairing the drain pipes that run under many Olney driveways.

Ron Berger Olney Heritage Award — Halsey Smith

Smith’s work for the Olney community spans decades. He has served on the Montgomery General Hospital Board, Friends of Longwood Recreation Center, the American Legion and Sandy Spring Lions Club. He is often seen delivering loaned medical equipment or selling Christmas trees or raffle tickets to support his organizations.

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