Colin MurphyDuring a ceremony at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis on January 18, Fort Smallwood Park volunteers Charles E. Grey and Charles F. Grey were among several people presented with the Ron Blake Outstanding Volunteer Award.
Volunteers Honored For Service To County Parks
As a Vietnam veteran, Pasadena resident Charles E. Grey has always had a strong personal attachment to honoring the service of military men and women.
“It’s a privilege to … honor the men and women who served,” said Grey, who along with his son, Charles F. Grey, has for the past several years volunteered to beautify and maintain much of Fort Smallwood Park, including the memorial for fallen war heroes that recognizes individuals from Anne Arundel County who have lost their lives fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On January 18, in a ceremony at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis, the Grey father-and-son pair and several other devoted volunteers were presented with the Ron Blake Outstanding Volunteer Award by the Department of Recreation and Parks in acknowledgment of their outstanding individual volunteer contributions to the parks of Anne Arundel County.
Kevin Keller, superintendent for Fort Smallwood Park, said the Greys have put in more than 1,600 man-hours of pure volunteer service over the past several years in cleaning, maintaining and beautifying Fort Smallwood Park and its memorial grove for fallen war heroes.
“They’re good, honest, hardworking Americans,” Keller said of the Greys, who have also strived to keep the beaches at the park clean of driftwood and debris, which allowed swimmers to enjoy the park’s newly opened swimming areas this past summer. “They’re quiet, and they don’t seek out recognition by any means. They’re just blue-collared, hardworking, everyday people who like to give back, and they’re dedicated to beautifying this place and keeping it nice for visitors. They do such a good job.”
The Greys have lived in Sunset Beach for 20 years and enjoy their work at Fort Smallwood Park. Another son of Charles E. Grey, Matt Grey, is an Anne Arundel County park ranger. Said the elder Grey of his volunteer work with his son, “We’re a team … It’s always a happy thing for us to be able to help out in any way we can.”
The Ron Blake Outstanding Volunteer Award’s eponym is a former Recreation Advisory Board member and community volunteer, and the award has been given every year since 1985, to a total of 154 people. It is the county’s top award for volunteers who have dedicated their time, effort and energy to advance the Department of Recreation and Parks.
In addition to the Greys, recipients of the award this year included Dinah Little, event planner and chair of the Fine Arts Committee at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis; Dave Marcus, a longtime volunteer with Anne Arundel Youth Football Association, Brooklyn Park Athletics, Severn Athletic Club and Glen Burnie Rebels; and Mike Sutphin, a longtime coach and council member with the Cape St. Claire Recreation Council.
Also recognized at the ceremony were Severna Park’s Charlie Becker, who received the Director’s Commitment to Excellence Award from Recreation and Parks Director Rick Anthony, who recognized Becker’s commitment to the Green Hornets as president of the youth sports club, his work advancing Challenger Baseball and adaptive sports in Anne Arundel County and his founding of Severna Park’s Legion baseball team in 1990. Becker was also a 2003 recipient of the Ron Blake Award.
The Department of Recreation and Parks also recognized three outstanding youth volunteers: Dylan Craft, a resident of Crownsville who has played in and volunteered with the county’s adaptive sports programs for more than 10 years; Erica Jacobson, a participant in the Volunteer Summer Serve Leadership Challenge at Mayo Beach who assisted with adaptive summer camps; and Matthew Payne, who has promoted wildlife conservation through his myriad efforts at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian.
The department also recognized the Annapolis Bicycle Club and Severn Athletic Club with Organization of the Year awards for the clubs’ varied positive impacts on community building, volunteer coordination and youth opportunity in Anne Arundel County.