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The compassion that defines us

Last November, we announced the Compassionate Marylander award – an essay contest for Marylanders to tell us how they or someone they nominated have made a positive impact on the lives of their neighbors, or how their own life has been changed by volunteering in their community. Today, we announced the winners, who will receive a $5,000 donation in their name to the charity of their choice, courtesy of our generous partner CareFirst.


These Marylanders have demonstrated the compassion and generosity that define us as a people, with the shared understanding that we are all united by the thread of human dignity. Take a minute to read their stories and learn more about their efforts to improve our communities.

Victoria Marinzel is only 13 years old, but already embodies the selfless spirit that the Compassionate Marylander Award values. She spends her Halloweens raising money for UNICEF instead of collecting candy, and after seeing a neighbor and friend suffering from ALS, she started selling bracelets in an effort to raise money for him and his family. At an age when most children are self-interested, Victoria has made an effort to reach out to others in any capacity that she can. At Christmas, Victoria donated the money she raised from selling ALS bracelets, along with some of her savings, to the family whose father is suffering from this debilitating disease. Her donation will go to the MD Chapter of the ALS Association.

Caitlyn McSorley is a 19-year-old student at McDaniel College in Westminster. In high school, she was a Chapter President of Best Buddies, an organization that promotes friendships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also volunteers at Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding, which aims to provide services to people with mental and physical disabilities. In addition, Caitlyn has participated in church-sponsored mission trips to Galveston, Texas and Lake Charles, Louisiana, as well as a yearly trip to help underprivileged children at the Agape House is Baltimore. Her donation will go to Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding in Harford County.

Rev. Robert Hahn has been the Senior Pastor of Chesapeake Church for over 20 years. In 2006, he began a countywide movement that lead to the establishment of End Hunger in Calvert County. His mission is not only to alleviate hunger in Calvert County, but to address the root of the problem and work to help people become more self-sufficient.  He believes that hunger is not a food problem, but an awareness problem, and that working together, we can defeat hunger. His donation will go to End Hunger in Calvert County.

Amy Pucino is a mentor through Baltimore City Community College’s Refugee Youth Project. She has worked tirelessly to assist refugee families as they acclimate to the U.S. Specifically, she has worked for years with an Iraqi family of one mother and her seven children. Pucino is pursuing her doctorate in Language, Literature, and Culture from UMBC and serves as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore County. Her donation will go to the International Rescue Committee, Baltimore for the Refugee Youth Project.

Heather Harvison is the executive director and founder of My Sister’s Circle, a mentoring and outreach group for girls from poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Baltimore. My Sister’s Circle has over 100 mentors that help girls from elementary school through college. Heather has gone above and beyond the call of duty, making countless trips to schools in Baltimore and even opening her home to girls in need. Her program has grown larger than she ever expected, and the academic and personal successes of the girls involved in the organization are truly inspiring.  Her donation will go to My Sister’s Circle.

Congratulations to all of our award winners. Keep up the good work.

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