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Townsend McNitt, Volunteer of the Year

When Townsend McNitt sees a need, she goes into action-mode. A long-time volunteer at the Stanton Community Center and Annapolis Elementary, the strategic consultant and dedicated education advocate has entrenched herself in the local volunteer landscape, armed with knowledge and expert advice. She’s also a devoted volunteer at The Light House and St. Anne’s Parish. However, Townsend’s services extend beyond a physical presence at the nonprofits. She also contributes as a strategic advisor and manager to the organizations – helping to fill voids and directing funds to where they are needed.

For example, as Townsend volunteered at the Stanton Center, she saw that the city-funded children's program needed more financial support. With her friend, Lisa Itte, and former Stanton Center Director Archie Trader, they formed the Friends of the Stanton Center Youth Programs Fund in 2015. The fund now finances educational and enrichment activities for teens as well as scholarships for neighborhood children to attend the summer camp.

In addition to volunteering for 12 years at the Stanton Center, Townsend has also worked 10 years with the Annapolis Elementary PTA to help coordinate Backpack Buddies, a program that provides weekly backpacks of food to children in need as well as holiday, emergency, and winter clothing support. With the help of St. Anne's, First Presbyterian, and others, the program feeds 50-80 children a week. “The combination of her heart and mind…are a huge contribution,” said Deede Rivers, who nominated Townsend. “She truly is an amazing person.”

Andrea Beckman, Anne Arundel County Public Schools School Counselor, said that when the pandemic hit, Townsend went above and beyond to strategize with community partners about how to best connect Annapolis families with the resources they needed. “Because of Townsend's commitment, we never had to turn a family away,” she said.

Townsend served on The Light House Board of Directors for two terms and as the Governance Committee Chair, as a dependable and invaluable advisor, said Jo Ann Mattson, The Light House Executive Director. “I am deeply grateful for her years of service to The Light House and for the profound impact she has had on the individuals and families experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Jo Ann. ”The high level of volunteer work that Townsend provided was exemplary, and she exhibited kindness, compassion, and commitment at every turn.”

The Reverend Manoj Mathew Zacharia, Ph.D., Rector of St. Anne’s Parish, knows that commitment firsthand – not only through Townsend’s work with Backpack Buddies and the Stanton Center but also because she serves on the church’s board. “In all of these roles, Townsend brings the entirety of her being to selflessly serve the needs of others, particularly focusing on those who have been socio-economically at the margins,” he said. “Townsend is deeply invested in the common good of Anne Arundel County. She is able to cultivate relationships in order to procure financial help as well as identify and retain volunteers for these projects. As a leader, she does not merely ‘organize’ volunteers and resources; she is down in the trenches leading those under her care with love and passion.”


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