WEST OCEAN CITY — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was in West Ocean City yesterday morning to present the first-ever William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County to Diakonia, an emergency transitional shelter that provides a leg up to individuals and families in the resort area and across the Lower Shore.
Franchot created the award, which will recognize individuals and organizations across Maryland that provide public service in their communities, in honor of the late William Donald Schaefer, a former Mayor of Baltimore, Governor of Maryland and at the end of his political career, Comptroller of Maryland. An award will be presented each year to a deserving recipient in every county in Maryland.
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my great predecessors and my immediate predecessor was William Donald Schaefer,” he said. “It’s been a year since he passed and I decided to honor his legacy with these annual awards.”
Franchot said Schaefer’s legacy includes major projects and initiatives that helped shape Maryland, but few remember the quiet things he did for those in need that didn’t often make the news.
“When most people think of Schaefer, they think of big accomplishments- a football stadium, the Inner Harbor, Reach the Beach- really big projects,” he said. “But what really made him tick were little acts of kindness for people.”
In that spirit, Diakonia has provided acts of kindness on a daily basis for those in the community in need for 40 years, a track record not lost on the Comptroller.
“Anything you can do for an individual can lift an entire community up,” he said. “That’s what goes on here at Diakonia. I’m delighted to present to Diakonia the first William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County.”
Worcester County Commission President Bud Church echoed Franchot’s sentiments about Schaefer.
“I had the pleasure of knowing William Donald Schaefer and you’re absolutely right,” he said. “He was all for helping the little people.”
County Commissioner Virgil Shockley said public service is often lost in the debate about budgets.
“It’s become increasingly important of the counties and the state to recognize people who do great service for their community,” he said. “It’s not about money, it’s about people helping each other.”
Diakonia Director Claudia Nagle accepted the award and praised her staff and Board of Directors.
“I just have the honor of being the director here,” she said. “This wouldn’t be possible without my team and the support of the community.”