ECBC Earns Good Neighbor Award
May 21, 2008
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - In 2007, U.S. Army Edgewood Biological and Chemical Center employees collected enough food to feed 70 Edgewood and Joppatowne families. They collected a mountain of toys to make the holidays special for children who might otherwise have missed out. They donated clothing for Harford County residents in need. When it comes to being a good neighbor, ECBC is simply off the charts.
ECBC is a subordinate element of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, headquartered at APG in Maryland.
And, in recognition of its neighborly ways, the Harford County Human Relations Commission presented ECBC with the 2008 Community Service Organization of the Year Award in the Government/Military category at its annual Good Neighbor Awards Ceremony in Bel Air, Md.
Since 1987, volunteers from the center have reached out to its surrounding community to offer residents in need a helping hand through what has grown into the Food, Clothing and Gift Drive. That first year, some 250 toys were collected by ambitious committee members from across the center and distributed to local children. In 1993, the program had been expanded to include food donations, and enough was collected to feed seven local families for 10 days.
"These folks are right outside our gates," said Barbara Knapp, the longtime chair of the Food, Clothing and Gift drive committee, "We drive by them everyday on our way to work. We are the 'big guy' in the neighborhood and there are a lot of families in our neighborhood who need our help. We have the ability to help and should lend them a hand."
That is the very spirit that inspired the Human Relations Commission to begin the awards program in 2004. "We look for organizations that come together to try to do something better for the community, said Mary Chance, director of the Human Relations Commission. "These are people who make Harford County a better place to live."
And, bringing people together who share that sentiment creates a synergy within the volunteer community. "In the past," Chance explained, "organizations have realized that by teaming together, they can help each other to accomplish more."
Over the years, ECBC reached out to other government agencies for just that reason. Its parent command, the U. S Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, as well as the Chemical Materials Agency and the Program Manager for Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment have joined in the drive and expanded the program's reach and effectiveness.
Harford County Executive David Craig gave the keynote address at the awards ceremony. He said that volunteers such as ECBC, and the numerous non-profit agencies, local businesses and faith based organizations represented at the event offer a priceless resource to the community.
"If we didn't have them, we would have tremendous gaps in the services we could offer," he explained. "These selfless volunteers get no perks or pay, but day after day they come out and do things for their neighbors."
Last year, ECBC's Kids & Chemistry program was recognized at the awards ceremony. This year, representatives went to the event expecting similar recognition. They were pleasantly surprised to find out that they were singled out for the honor, when Knapp walked to the stage with a smile to accept the award and certificates of recognition from the local and federal representatives for the achievement.
"It's wonderful," Knapp said. "This award is the culmination of many years of hard work by a lot of great people. This award is truly an ECBC-wide award. All we ever had to do is ask, and they continued to give year after year."
Knapp stepped down this year as the chair of the Food, Clothing and Gift Drive committee ahead of her pending retirement from the center, where she works in the Workforce Management Office. But, she said she is leaving the program in very capable hands. Jean Salvatore, of the Engineering Directorate, and Leanne Argue, of the Research and Technology Directorate, will co-chair the committee moving forward.