2017 Hometown Heroes Nominees Named

Paul Clipper
Posted 3/21/17

This is the Dorchester Banner’s fifth year of celebrating Dorchester County’s Hometown Heroes. Since 1897, The Banner’s mission has been to educate and celebrate the Heart of Chesapeake …

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2017 Hometown Heroes Nominees Named


This is the Dorchester Banner’s fifth year of celebrating Dorchester County’s Hometown Heroes. Since 1897, The Banner’s mission has been to educate and celebrate the Heart of Chesapeake Country, and to fulfill that mission, we have published countless stories about the people who make this community what it is. We celebrate the services of our mayors, police chiefs, councilpersons, religious leaders and more every week, but our Hometown Heroes celebration is when we pay homage to the folks who operate “under the radar” making this county the great community it is.

There are many people trying to make a difference who rarely receive the attention they deserve. “Hometown Heroes” is the Banner’s attempt to correct this. It is our salute to local residents who don’t go looking for attention, but deserve it. People who, through their ideas, effort and dedication, are making a difference in the lives of other people.

This year the Banner received 19 nominations for Hometown Heroes, and their profiles, as submitted to the paper, are now posted on the DorchesterBanner.com web site. Our judges’ final selections will be revealed in the March 29 issue of the Dorchester Banner, and our Heroes for 2017 will be honored at a reception on March 30 at Dorchester Center for thew Arts.

Pastor Servant Andre Kane

Nominator: Dorethea Johnson

Andre is an ex-drug addict who turned his life around and has been sober now for 20 some years. He started his own church and opened the doors to the public. He hosts drug meetings for those honoring years of being clean and talks to anyone with a problem. He helps other churches with his carpentry skills. He has never been honored for his achievements. He organized the New Way of Life Club years ago for the community and it is still operating today by others.

Annette Newton

Nominator: Addie Eckardt

I worked with Annette Newton, LPN for 30 years. She is not only an excellent nurse, but a devoted mother and grandmother and valued community hero. As one of the founding Freedom Riders/Fighters she stands up for freedom, justice and is supportd by a strong value system/beliefs and compassion. She has devoted her life to service for others.

Arneda Hopkins

Nominated by: Jeff Webb

“Miss Arneda” has been at Vienna Elementary for well over 40 years, first as a student and now the head of the building maintenance. She greets students by name, gives them guidance and advice as well as setting a superior role model. Her mentoring of children not her own is on a daily basis with hugs, words of encouragement, and work ethic. She has left her legacy at this school by being an unsung hero who just considers it the “right thing” to do.

Brad Walters

Nominator: Brandon Hesson

Brad Walters is the second assistant chief for the Cambridge Rescue Fire Company. Beyond his regular duties he is also very eager to work with groups and businesses. For downtown events surrounding Ironman, Brad was the point of contact for Cambridge Main Street, to ensure that street closures were properly communicated to fire rescue. This was important so fire trucks and first responders knew the correct route to take.

Brad also interfaces with Economic Development staff for the city of Cambridge regarding fire code in downtown buildings. While he defers to the State Fire Marshall for official determinations, his background and understanding of the National Fire code have proven crucial to prospective developers of historic properties downtown and business owners who are attracted to Cambridge. This kind of interaction between departments makes Cambridge attractive to investors. Brad goes out of his way to reflect positively on the Rescue Fire Company as well as completing his tasks as a first responder.

Cynthia Jurrius

Nominated by: Dr. Henry Wagner

As the Executive Director of the Mid Shore Community Mediation Center, Ms. Jurrius has provided essential opportunities over the years to the children of Dorchester County Public Schools for the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Her enthusiasm and commitment for the development of these important skills has had a markedly positive impact on the climate of our schools. We are grateful for our partnership with the Mediation Center!

Dave Ryan

Nominator: Doemetris Jones

I nominate Coach Dave Ryan, simply because of his years of experience, diligent, compassionate, caring devoted and dedication he has for all kids to be physically fit and to compete and have fun while maintaining studies in high school. He’s an awesome coach and photographer. He goes above and beyond being a coach at Cambridge South Dorchester High School. He also does a lot of fun things with kids on his own time. Phenominal job on posted photo of events held with the kids of Dorchester County on Facebook. It’s great for parents and community that can’t go away to competitions. Thanks for being awesome, Coach.

Dion Banks

Nominator: Doemetris Jones

For his diligent work in community with Eastern Shore Network for Change brought Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford along with several more government officials at Bethel A.M.E. Cambridge, Maryland where Cambridge commemorates the civil rights, community and change reflections February 11, 2017. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford honored civil rights leader Gloria Richardson and 50 year commemoration of 50 years since unrest in Pine St. neighborhood. Thru the diligent work Dion and Network for Change devoted themselves to, resulted in Governor declaring Feb. 11 to be declared Gloria Richardson Day. Dion has a very long history of involvement with Dorchester County here and aboard. True Dorchesterism.

Gail Benjamin

Nominator: Sandy Niblett

Gail Benjamin is the adult education aerobics instructor on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Choptank Community Elementary School. Gail’s main focus is to keep you moving on your level. Don’t try to keep up with anyone else, go at your own speed, you know your body and what you can and can’t do. Use a stepper or not and under 5 lb. weights. She encourages you to keep moving to use your body and exercise, to learn balance and tone your body. I like it because a lot of us that attend are over 40 and you don’t have to try and compete with anyone but yourself. You leave feeling as if you’ve accomplished something, you feel better about yourself. Gail puts everyone at ease. She’s an inspiration just watching her go. While we’re walking around the gym, she’s jumping rope. Gail knows all of us by name and always encourages us to do our best. That is why I think Gail Benjamin is a Hometown Hero.

Jason Shorter

Nominator: Brandon Hesson

For several years, Jason Shorter served as the President of Cambridge Little League baseball and softball, a full self-sufficient non-profit organization managing to operate without financial help from city or county budgets. His efforts have touched the lives of thousands of children, not just here in Cambridge but across the state, as many teams play district, regional and state tournaments here at the Cambridge Little League facility. Running a shoestring budget for an organization like this is difficult on the president of that organization and runs the full scope from making sure the local league adheres to international charter with Little League Worldwide, all the way down to making sure the concession stand is stocked with enough food for the week. He has also coached baseball in the organization throughout.

Jason also coaches and helps organize within Pop Warner football, as well as the youth wrestling program. He has also volunteered his time as a coach and support staff to the high school wrestling and football teams. His contributions are not always appreciated, because he doesn’t choose to operate in the spotlight, but he should be considered for recognition as a Hometown Hero. I’m not sure any person could embody a Hometown Hero more that him.

Katie Smith

Nominator: Julie P. Slacum

A little over two years ago, Cambridge and its surrounding areas began to feel a remarkable change. This change began the day Katie Smith opened the doors of “her dream”—a small Amish-style restaurant on Poplar Street which she named Katie Mae’s Country Shoppe. Katie shares her love for Jesus and she passes that love on to her customers and community in numerous ways. Katie helps the less fortunate wherever she sees a need—be it school children needing warm clothes, collecting and distributing Christmas gifts to the less fortunate and many more good deeds on a daily basis. For the 2016 Cambridge Christmas parade, Katie entered two floats! She is extremely community-oriented. Her largest endeavor so far was her AWAKEN concert---a day of Christian fellowship, music and family fun—ending with professional Christian performances. Katie is changing the image of downtown Cambridge through her love of people and her desire to serve the Lord. Hard-working yet humble, Katie should be honored as a Hometown Hero. She is surely is mine.

Larry Laramy

Nominator: Rev. Mark J. Avens

I am Rev. Mark J. Avens and I encourage Christians to serve others in ministry as part of their faith journey. Larry Laramy has volunteered at the animal shelter where he not only volunteers his time but helps dogs and cats be ready to be adopted. His time with them helps the new owner have a good experience with their new pet thereby increasing the chances of a successful adoption. His other duties include feeding, bathing, cleaning cages, etc. However, getting the dog or cat to accept humans is his biggest contribution to the shelter.

Michael Wheatley

Nominated by: Martin J. Mullaney

Michael is a hardworking individual who loves to be a help to his community. He works two full time jobs. One helping individuals with disabilities and the other as my assistant. He also is manager of Safelock Properties LLC. When he is not working he helps his community by: sitting on the Board of Cambridge Police Dept., active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club member, honorary member of Cambridge Rescue Fire Dept. He is a member of the Cambridge Wesleyan Church. Michael loves to volunteer whenever and wherever he can. When asked why he does all the things he does, he always says he just loves to help people and takes pride of Cambridge, Maryland.

Pat McDonald

Nominator: Rev. Mark J. Avens

As a United Methodist pastor I rely on volunteers for the work of Jesus to continue. Here in the Neck area of Cambridge Pat McDonald is a God send. Pat volunteered to go with me to visit shut-ins, hospital and nursing homes. Pat is a RN and EMT here in the Neck. She connects people in need with people that can help. When visiting a retired school bus driver at home who had a dog barking, she marched in before me and said “don’t worry, if you get bit I’ll patch you up”. She is not afraid to pray with you either. She says everyone needs prayer. She helped the church to serve a meal at the cold weather shelter. Pat is a God send to the Neck area and I thank God for her ministry here.

Raymond Farrare

Nominator: Doemetris Jones

I nominate Raymond “Raymo” Farrae as a phenomenal mentor in our community. He’s formed a Lost Kingz organization helping the youth of all races to not fall for the havoc on the streets. Instead he teaches them about respect, pride, integrity, morals and values for one another and others. Raymo has taken pride in working with the youth at Adventist Health Care which use to be Potomac Ridge Youth Facility. He has been conducting soup giveaways, clothes drives, raised 500 cases of water for Flint, Michigan and lunch at McDonald’s for 100 kids in community, provides cold weather needs for the homeless, and works with youth at Jubilee Christian Fellowship with kids youth group along with wife Carmin Farrare and Pastor George Wheatley minister of church, supporting him 100 percent. Yearly in remembrance Bonnie Henry, Pastor George Wheatley, Raymo Farrae, and Terrance Henry give away Thanksgiving baskets (boxes) to the community. Raymond is also known and commended by folk in our community for helping adults that are depressed, having intervention with kids and parents. The most commendable I’ve noticed about Raymond is that he goes above and beyond when a child is missing in the community. He sends out Amber Alerts and goes out of his home leaving his family until the child is found and brought back to their family. He’s truly an awesome young man that neighborhood kids look up to as a mentor.

Ruth A. Stanley

Nominator: Magalene Molock

Ruth has given of herself to help others her entire life. She transports people to appointments, she even gives food and clothes from her own home to make sure people in the community are fed and have clothes to wear. She is really an unpaid social worker. If you have a need you can always call her.

Ruth has raised her six children and some of her grandchildren as well as her three adopted sons and numerous children that she has fostered during her lifetime. There have been times that she receives phone calls because a family is on the verge of being evicted and has nowhere to live. Ruth will get in her vehicle or get on her phone to find resources for that family. What makes her special is that she will do all of this without asking for a dime. She will even take food from her freezer to give you and clothes from her own home. She has even given people refrigerators, washers and dryers. My motto for her is “if there is a need, see Ms. Ruth because she will supply”.

Ruth Stanley is truly an unpaid social worker. She does all of this and more and without receiving anything.

Sam Slacum

Nominator: Ryan Daniels

Sam Slacum is a hometown hero. Sam was born and raised in Cambridge and chose to raise his family here as well. Sam was working for a local ice company when he chose to cut back hours and I’m sure pay to play a larger role in his young children’s lives. He applied and got the job at the Board of Education to help with facility management. He has overseen and coordinated many projects that has enriched the lives of students in Dorchester County. New Track and fields at both high schools, new gym floor at CSD, new softball field at CSD, solar field install at Choptank Elementary, new construction of vocational tech building and planning and beginning phases of the new North Dorchester High School. This all in addition to revamping the grounds and maintenance programs at all schools. Sam also is the president of the Dorchester County Lacrosse program-DLAX. He currently has none of his children involved with the program and still volunteers as league president. Sam is also a volunteer lacrosse coach at Cambridge South Dorchester High School. Sam also is one of the organizers of the fishing tournament “Rock the Choptank” based out of Cambridge on our home river. The tournament donates money to a different charity every year. This one was Fishing for Muscular Dystrophy.

Sam does many things for his community that go unnoticed and many more things then I can remember for this nomination but I do know he is deserving of recognition and has made Cambridge and Dorchester County a better place for its students and community. He is all of the below:

Educator, Mentor Coach, Community Volunteer, Youth Volunteer, positive role model, history of volunteerism, sacrificing personal gain to achieve noble goals, brought positive recognition to our community, embodies the finest example in the following i.e, family values, the importance of education, the arts and culture, environmental consciousness, leadership and courage, consistent dedication and commitment to worthy causes, representative of the diversity within the community.

Susan Luby

Nominator: Dr. Henry Wagner

As the Executive Director of Character Counts Mid Shore, Ms. Luby has provided outstanding character development opportunities over the years to the children of Dorchester Public Schools. Her enthusiasm and commitment for the development of character has had a markedly positive impact on the climate of our schools, and has fostered significant community involvement in DCPS!

Thomas Hutchinson

Nominator: Brandon Hesson

Tom just recently completed his term as Cambridge Main Street president, but served on the volunteer board prior to that. He was pivotal in initiatives to beautify downtown and coordinate key events. He is also a volunteer leader for IRONMAN Maryland. This past year, he was responsible for the Ironman village at Long Wharf, a very important responsibility, but he has been involved with each of the three events. You will regularly find him throughout the city volunteering for Crabtoberfest, Rotary events and many others.

Wayne Towers

Nominator: Carole Towers

An active volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for the past 12 years has contributed unselfishly to the building or rehab of 12 homes for 12 families. If asked he would be unable to even guess the number of hours or days spent in numerous tasks required in construction/renovation particularly caulking and painting! This man seeks no glittery tribute or acclaim, just the satisfaction of knowing he has given his best to a team working together to help others. His altruistic attitude is known by family and friends who have been recipients of his natural ways of caring and support. For these reasons I nominate Wayne Towers as an unsung hometown hero.

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