Fuller is named to philanthropy hall of fame
Fuller among four people honored for supporting nonprofit agencies
The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland inducted four local philanthropists — two volunteers, a pastor and a CEO — into its Philanthropy Hall of Fame during a ceremony Friday at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees Community Center.
This year’s hall of fame inductees were Grace Fuller, a volunteer with St. Mary’s Caring Soup Kitchen, Summerseat Farm and the Port of Leonardtown Winery; Darlene Breck, founder and president of the Southern Maryland Business Center in White Plains; Mike Hilson, lead pastor at New Life Church in La Plata; and Austin J. “Joe” Slater Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.
Friends and colleagues lauded the contributions of the inductees at a luncheon ceremony attended by elected officials and representatives from nonprofit organizations, the College of Southern Maryland’s Nonprofit Institute, the Charles County Community Trust and other organizations. Southern Maryland Newspapers, of which the Maryland Independent is a part, was one of the event’s sponsors.
The theme of this year’s event was “Looking Forward, Giving Back.”
Fuller has been active in the nonprofit community in St. Mary’s County for nearly 20 years. As Tuesday crew leader of St. Mary’s Caring for 13 years, she planned meals for 60 to 80 people every day and helped the organization feed over 25,000 people annually through the soup kitchen in Lexington Park.
Two years ago, Fuller created a distribution network with local food stores to provide excess food that would otherwise be discarded to soup kitchens and food pantries around the county.
Fuller, who said that she and her husband moved to Southern Maryland 38 years ago to find a good place to raise their children, characteristically downplayed her contributions.
“Southern Maryland has lots and lots of good-hearted people,” she said. “I just like to help, help, help.”
Breck, chief judge of the orphans court for Charles County, is a past president of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce, past board chair of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation and member of the Maryland Commission for Women.
In addition, she has for years volunteered with LifeStyles of Maryland Inc., a La Plata-based nonprofit that provides services to the county’s homeless and housing insecure populations, and served as a grief counselor at New Life Church in La Plata.
Anne Reese of Life- Styles introduced Breck as “an unsung hero. She’s an invisible engine that keeps the wheels turning in local nonprofit organizations.”
Breck, however, encouraged the audience to turn their praise toward the staff of LifeStyles with whom she has worked.
“Together we’ve come up with some good ideas,” Breck said. “Everybody knows that giving … is a personal decision. It normally has to do with something that either tugs at our heart strings or something we’re aware of in the community or a need that needs to be filled.”
Hilson, who was unable to attend the luncheon, has lived in La Plata with his wife, Tina, since 1999. Under Hilson’s leadership, New Life Church has supported a number of community nonprofit groups and ministries throughout Southern Maryland including LifeStyles, the Maryland Food Bank, the Charles County Children’s Aid Society, Farming for Hunger and others.
Under the leadership of Slater, who was also unable to attend, SMECO has continued to support local charities through mechanisms such as grants, staff volunteering and fundraisers like its annual golf tournament and bike ride.
Grace Fuller, a longtime volunteer with charities in St. Mary’s County, offers a few words after her induction.