In recognition of a lifetime of community service, Sharon Paugh of Elk Garden, W. Va., recently received the Baltimore Ravens Community Service Quarterback Award. She was one of 10 finalists selected from the area that the Ravens, the NFL Super Bowl XXXV champions, call home.
"Sharon is an active duty citizen and a great role model," says Angela Gleason, who supervises Paugh's work as a member of A STAR! In Western Maryland AmeriCorps and nominated her for the award. She averages about 50 hours weekly with the Oakland Department of Social Services, where she works with foster children.
Along with her AmeriCorps duties, Paugh volunteers for a host of organizations in the Kitzmiller-Elk Garden area. Now in her 14th year with the Elk District Ambulance Service, she kicked off efforts to construct a facility for the service, revamped its policies and procedures and serves as an EMT and CPR instructor. She is both secretary and EMS Lieutenant with the Kitzmiller Fire and Rescue Squad. Although her children are grown, she belongs to both the Kitzmiller and Elk Garden chapters of the PTA. She works with the Kitzmiller Little League, serves as co-spokesperson for the Kitzmiller Autumn Glory Planning Committee and is recorder for Women of the Moose Lodge191.
But although she clearly loves volunteer work, Paugh says her main priority is her family, especially the two grandsons she describes as "the light of my life." She logs many miles between her home in the Elk Garden area to Kitzmiller, where most of her family lives, to maintain those all-important family ties. After working with the DSS, she says she has a new appreciation for her family's closeness, adding, "I thank the Good Lord for what I've got."
After holding a variety of positions that included data entry at TDEC and Bausch & Lomb, shift work in Winchester, Va., and a stint as a physician's assistant, Paugh decided to challenge herself with the belief that "she can do anything." She discovered AmeriCorps, and was amazed that an organization promoting the kind of service she has performed all of her life and offering an education stipend actually existed. So she signed up, and spent her first year training DSS Welfare-to-Work clients in job skills.
She plans to use her AmeriCorps educational stipend to earn a certificate in social work from Garrett Community College. This past fall, she took a class in Principles and Practices of Juvenile Justice, and is taking a break this spring to pursue her EMT and Firefighter I training. She hopes to resume her studies next fall.
Paugh raves about her AmeriCorps experience. "I love AmeriCorps. It's a wonderful program. When people ask me what it is, I say, 'I am AmeriCorps.'"
And she has her football trophy from the Ravens award to prove it.
Established in 2000 by the National Football League, the Community Quarterback Award recognizes exceptional community leaders in each of the NFL's 31 team markets. The award is funded by NFL Charities, which donates a total of $1 million in grants to the non-profit organizations served by the award winners. Paugh's award will yield $1,000 to A STAR! In Western Maryland AmeriCorps.
"This is a program to highlight unsung heroes, the volunteers in our communities who go beyond the call of duty," says Kenny Abrams, Communications and Development Manager for the Ravens. "You hear a lot about athletes, but not about the everyday person helping the community."
Abrams compares the competition to that of teams in the playoffs for the Super Bowl Championship. A regional winner selected from 10 finalists nominated by each team then goes on to the final level in which the national award winner is chosen.
FSU directs A STAR! In Western Maryland (Appalachian Service Through Action and Resources), an AmeriCorps program that enrolls 30 full-time AmeriCorps members providing programs that improve the literacy of school children, enhance the health care and living conditions of children and elderly people, help at-risk youth, improve shelter and support services for low-income families and preserve the environment. A STAR! full-time members receive a modest living allowance and a full educational award for completing 1,700 hours of service and training during the year.
For information about AmeriCorps, call (301) 687-7599.
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