Last week Jess Dixon, Lisa Daigle, Gail Slater, and I attended the inaugural Light of Carroll County breakfast sponsored by Carroll County Public Library. Target Community & Educational Services was nominated for a Light of Carroll County award in the non-profit category. As I’m new to Carroll County, and this event was the first of its kind, I had no idea what to expect.
Andrea Berstler, the library’s executive director, opened the breakfast with an anecdote about driving through the countryside at dawn and being awed by the colors. It occurred to her that even at night, the explosion of fall colors was present; it required the light to become aware of the beauty. Berstler went on to compare the nominees and winners of the various Light of Carroll awards were the lights that highlighted the gifts of Carroll County.
Dr. Kendra Hart served as the morning emcee, highlighting the theme of Literacy in each nomination category. Hart, a lifetime educator and champion of libraries, taught me that literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write and incorporates technology, health, family, and community literacy. One needs these qualities to engage inside and outside the home successfully.
Over the next hour I was introduced to thirty-six individuals, businesses, and organizations whose mission is to bring this broad definition of literacy to the community. I believe in what John Dewy refers to as a strong, localized, participatory Democracy. Individuals engaging outside the home within their community work to improve all lives. I have never been in a room full of people dedicated to the common good in a more localized way.
Among the nominees and winners was the Mason-Dixon Surveyor, a hyper-localized newspaper filling the gap left by corporate-owned news services. The General Federation of Women’s Club of Westminster; these women have been working to benefit their community for over 100 years. The owner of a local internet provider dedicated to providing affordable internet in the wake of big companies. A man who restores bicycles and gives them to community members at no cost. A high school student who authored a book during the pandemic. The list goes on, and I am beside myself that I cannot tell each of the thirty-six stories I heard last week.
Held in the same week of my first election cycle in Maryland, I was blown away. Localized responses to localized needs. Also, the banquet was flawlessly designed and executed. I would have thought the planning committee had put on ten of the gatherings. What an event! Mark your calendars for November 2, 2023, folks. I cannot wait to go back.
The Carroll County Public Library challenges us all to not only look for but also to be a light in Carroll County or any county where you happen to be reading this.