Inaugural Community Heroes Awards Spotlights Seven Outstanding Baltimore County Residents


The awards selected seven outstanding residents - one from each county council district. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - On Tuesday, seven Baltimore County residents were celebrated as the first recipients of the newly established Community Heroes Awards.

The inaugural awards spotlight individuals who have impacted their communities through dedicated advocacy and service.

"At the heart of Baltimore County's diverse, thriving communities are individuals who donate their time to make life better for their neighbors. These inaugural awardees exemplify the kind of selfless community service that makes our County a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family," Baltimore Couty Executive Johnny Olszewski said.

Meet the Awardees:

District 1: Otis Collins of Halethorpe

  • Collins, who has a "heart for service," has been serving as the Halethorpe Civic League President for 15 years. His community involvement also includes roles on the Baltimore County Ethics Commission, Wilkens Police and Community Relations Organization, HUD Federal Credit Union Board, and more.

District 2: Dawn Seestedt of Gwynn Oak

  • Known as a remarkable community leader, Seestedt co-chairs Dementia Friendly Baltimore County's community leadership teams and has initiated projects to make parks more accessible and greet school children at bus stops through the "Your Nana Next Door" initiative.

District 3: Laurie Taylor-Mitchell of Towson

  • In 2015, Taylor-Mitchell established a nonprofit to support vulnerable students at Loch Raven High School. Her Student Support Network has since expanded to 21 schools, providing essentials and emergency funding.

District 4: Anie Polastre of Owings Mills

  • A key figure in her community, Polastre has spearheaded initiatives like the Owings Mills New Town Jazz and Wine Festival and serves as a liaison between residents and the County Council.

District 5: Julie Gaynor of Middle River

  • After more than 40 years as a teacher for visually impaired students, Gaynor remains active in retirement by mentoring students and supporting projects like the Chamber's Annual Secret Santa and Christmas Angels project.

District 6: Noel Acton of Parkville

  • Acton's focus is on keeping kids engaged through sports programs. His Foundation also manages the Baltimore Banners and Junior Banners hockey teams for at-risk youth. Acton was a recipient of the NHL's 2022 Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award.

District 7: Cliff O'Connell of Essex

  • O'Connell has been proactive in revitalizing Essex and is a volunteer at local schools and community charities.

An award ceremony for this year's community heroes will occur on September 28, 2023, at Baltimore County's second annual Community Leaders Summit.

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