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Pines will celebrate incoming board and local philanthropists

10/17/13 | By Sheila R. Cherry, Associate Editor

BERLIN—As the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce prepares to install its 2013/2014 board of directors it will also take the opportunity during its Oct. 18 banquet to recognize major philanthropic contributions of a local business, individual and non-profit organization.

The event will have a gangsters and flappers theme and will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Ocean City/Ocean Pines Lions club at 12534 Airport Rd, in West Ocean City. Tickets cost $55 each and packets of tickets can be sponsored in increments of $200 (two tickets), $500 (four tickets) or $800 (eight tickets).

“Does so much for the community” was how the trio of awardees was frequently described by OPCC Executive Director Liz Kain-Bolen. It was easy to see why; each had made multi-faceted giving their modus operandi.  According to Kain-Bolen, the chamber has “Never had a hard time finding people who go out of their way to help others in the (Ocean Pines) community.”

During the “Roaring 1920’s”-themed gala, Kathy Jacobs will be honored in a sense for her way of using technology and social media to bring much-needed support and awareness to individuals and issues that need it in the community.

Apart from her day job, as director of community relations for the upscale Brandywine Senior Living at Fenwick Island, she has used her acumen on social media like Facebook to rally support for all sorts of causes and emergencies.

Jacobs, who was clearly uncomfortable talking about herself, became a virtual fountain of information at the mention of any of her causes.

“It’s not about me. It’s about a sense of community,” she said. She described her role as helping others in the community reach out to those in need. Oftentimes people want to help, she said, “They just don’t know what to do.”

Jacobs seemed to prefer targeted, impromptu grassroots giving rather than the broad fundraising drives of large nonprofit organizations.

When prompted she told of organizing a Facebook card-writing campaign for a police officer who was severely injured in a car accident, a meal drive for the loved ones of two Ocean City police officers who were tragically killed in a helicopter accident over the summer, a clothing drive for a local family who were displaced by a fire, a dog food drive upon learning that a financial situation had left a Selbyville pet resort unable to feed scores of dogs in its care, and coordinating not only a clothing drive for storm victims in New Jersey who had been devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but also following up with a toy drive that allowed the still-struggling parents to pick gifts they deemed appropriate for their own children at Christmastime.

Jacobs uses her technological skills to aid and coordinate on projects that benefit police officers.

One point where her professional and philanthropic lives co-mingle, she pointed out, is the battle against dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease. She says her role with the residents in the Brandywine community has created a passion within to find ways to increase awareness and funding in battling dementia-related diseases. It is one of the few times when she said she aligns her philanthropy with large organizations.

“I normally get involved with more immediate needs,” Jacobs said. “Those are the times when I sit back and say ‘What can I do to make a difference?’”

The award for Business of the Year will go to Atlantic Physical Therapy owner Robert Hammond, who is being honored for his generous donations of bicycles for needy children during the holidays and support for Stephen Decatur High School sports programs and the Berlin Little League.

Hammond takes services he provides at his facility to an additional level. The center may appear deceptively austere from the outside, but inside it is divided into two distinctly different service venues. One side is a physical therapy care center, with personal attendants for everything from massage and rehabilitation stations to water therapy in one of the county’s few endless pools, which is heated and allows patients to use an artificial current as part of the therapy treatment.  The other side is a state of the art fitness facility with a layout that can accommodate individual, buddy or group workouts. The treadmills have individual video monitors as well as an anti-gravity treadmill, which uses air pressure to provide a low-impact way for users to exercise.

Hammond, no stranger to hard times himself, has established a “loyalty program” designed to help his long-term patients ensure their therapy does not end if a sudden inability to pay threatens to cut short the services they need. He extends free services for patients who may need additional care after they have maxed out their insurance.

Hammond’s son Robert “Bobby” Hammond III, explained “We were real poor at one point,” after the family hit hard times when the family restaurant at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club closed in the 1990’s. The failed business venture cost the family of six their home, and a dispute with a local gas company left them without heat for the winter.

Bobby, who has earned a doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, recalled his father telling him when they were chopping wood to heat the home, “Never forget this. We will get back on top, but never forget.” His father apparently never has, and shows it not only with the passion and ambition Hammond shows through his tenacious business drive, but also through the way he has apparently attempted to help others who are going through economic rough patches.

Hammond said his wife, Jessica is the budget watcher of the operation and keeps a sharp eye on the spending. Nevertheless, he said, “We try to never say ‘no.’”

The Atlantic General Hospital Foundation was named Non-Profit of the Year. The organization is celebrating its 20-year anniversary said Kain-Bolen, who noted that the efforts of events sponsored by the foundation, such as its annual “Penguin Swim and gala, have helped with needed fundraising. The award will be sponsored by the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, she said.

Amid the gangsters and flappers, the incoming OPCC board and officers will also be recognized. The officers include Gwen Cordner, of Acquest Title Services, as incoming president; Imad Elali, of Long & Foster Realtors, as outgoing president; Anna Giles, of Merrill Lynch, as vice president; Larry Leese, of Larry Leese & Associates, PA,  as treasurer; and Amy Unger, of Atlantic General Hospital, as Secretary. The board of directors will include Ted Demetriou, of Demetriou Insurance; Lee Ann Gunning, of Wor-Wic Community College; Celeste Dove, of Farmer’s Bank of Willards; Jennifer Antonelli, of Comcast Spotlight; and Will Cathell, of Williams, Moore, Shockley & Harrison, LLP.

For additional information about the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce’s “Roaring 2013 Banquet,” or to make a reservation, call 410-641-5306 or e-mail oceanpineschamber.org.

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