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GOCA names Dowdy its Citizen of the Year

by Judith Hruz


Katherine “Katie” Dowdy, director of Longwood Community Recreation Center, has a new title: Greater Olney Civic Association Citizen of the Year.

Dowdy, the guest speaker at the Feb. 14 meeting of the civic association (GOCA), was surprised and grateful when Helene Rosenheim, president, told her she had been selected for the honor.

With the exception of a few years spent working elsewhere in the county, the Montgomery County native has spent more than 20 years at Longwood. Starting as a parent volunteer in 1989 when her children were young, Dowdy was appointed the center’s director in 2017.

She is credited by many in the community as making Longwood a warm and welcoming gathering spot.

Each year GOCA thanks individuals, businesses and other organizations that have made a notable contribution to the greater Olney community.

“I think what strikes me about the efforts being recognized through these awards is that there are countless ways people can help their community — our local community and the larger community — and it takes all of these myriad and diverse endeavors to make a full, successful meaningful community,” said Rosenheim. “If we look carefully enough and with some imagination, each of us should be able to find a mission or purpose that touches our hearts and makes our lives fuller, and in turn, makes the world a better place.”

Other award recipients include:

Chris Larsen, coordinator of Olney Elementary School Chess Club, and Katherine Farquhar, who coordinated and collected blankets to be sent to Ukraine, are the winners of the Contribution to the Community award.

The award is presented to individuals, groups or businesses that have made a noteworthy contribution to the quality of life in Olney.

Maura Martin, a student at Our Lady Good Counsel student who supplies shelters for cats, is the recipient of the Youth Contribution to the Community award.

The award is presented to a student in grades kindergarten through 12 that has made noteworthy contribution to the quality of life in Olney.

John Seng, for his efforts to make roads and transportation safer for drivers and pedestrians, is the GOCA Worker of the Year.

As its name suggests, the award recognizes the outstanding work of a member of GOCA or a committee member on behalf of GOCA.

Seng is the chair of the civic association’s Roads and Transportation Committee and was recently elected to a one-year term as recording secretary.

Olney Boys and Girls Club (OBGC) is the winner of the Ron Berger Olney Heritage award for being a key part of the community for a long time.

The award recognizes significant contributions made during the early years of Olney’s growth from a small rural community or long-term contributions that have helped shape the development of Olney into a distinctive, satellite community and maintained the quality of life.

“Our community has also been very lucky to have people with vision and dedication,” Rosenheim said. “When those three families that started the Olney Boys Club joined forces to provide the young boys in Olney with an opportunity to play organized sports, I doubt that they imagined that all these decades later they would have served thousands of Olney’s youth. But, they recognized the importance of giving our youth the opportunity to grow and learn through a good sports program and they were willing to do what it took to make that a reality.”

The Special President’s Award will be announced at the awards ceremony. Each year, GOCA’s president acknowledges and expresses his or her personal thanks to an individual or group of choice.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on March 12 at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School. A reception will begin at 2 p.m., followed by the award presentation at 3 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

“And, we give these awards out each year because we recognize that not every community is fortunate enough to have so many individuals and organizations that contribute so much, and that it is important to show our appreciation,” Rosenheim said. “Not only do we have the Olney Boys and Girls Club and Longwood Recreation Center, we have a wealth of long-standing and new entities — a great Olney Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s Board of the Medstar Montgomery Medical Center, the Sandy Spring Museum, the Ross Boddy Center, Winter Growth, Green Olney, the Olney Farmers and Artist Market, the Greater Olney Interfaith Ministerium and all its member houses of worship, the African Slave Museum, Olney Toastmasters, the Olney Civic Fund, the Olney Town Center Advisory Committee, our great Parent-Teacher Associations, our public and private schools, Olney Theatre and The Greater Olney News — the list goes on and on.

“And, these things don’t happen accidentally. It takes many people who all just want to help create a special place for our families to grow and thrive in. And, we should not lose sight of what it takes to create this place. There is a reason Olney has grown from the 7,000 people that were here when we moved here in 1976 to the 50,000-plus people we have now.”

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