Waldorf, MD – The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland heralded three businesses in the tri-county area for their benevolence, inducting them into the Philanthropy Hall of Fame Friday, Nov. 4 at the 11th Annual Philanthropy Luncheon at Waldorf Jaycees.
“We believe giving back is good business,” said Community Foundation Executive Director Gretchen H. Hardman. “There are needs in our community not being addressed. They rely on the non-profits who rely on their neighbors to support them.”
Three businesses from Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties were honored for their philanthropic efforts in their communities.
• Eric Franklin, CEO of ERIMAX Inc., an information technology and acquisition management company in Calvert County for his considerable efforts in helping small businesses thrive in the region. Although his business has only been around for 15 years, ERIMAX provides services to more than 20 federal agencies in nine states and has been recognized by the Washington Business Journal as one of the region’s fastest-growing companies and was listed by Inc. magazine as one of the nation’s 5,000 fasted growing companies.
• For Keith Grasso of Island Music in La Plata, the story is very similar. He and his wife Nikki started the business 18 years ago and is going strong, providing musical instruction and instruments to many in the community. Their annual RockOberfest event held at the Crossing at Casey Jones helps provide funding for musical instruments for public school programs throughout Charles County.
• The third Philanthropy Hall of Fame inductee is an old hand at giving: Great Mills Trading Post owned and operated by Bubby Knott. It’s a great story, as Knott began buying and selling junk in 1970, an enterprise that led to a side business. That business developed over time into a asphalt and construction business that has now been providing services to state, local and federal governments for 35 years, and 30 of those serving the U.S. Navy.
“You do not have to be well off to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Guest Speaker Mike Middleton, president and CEO of Community Bank of the Chesapeake. “Our culture of caring is a way of life,” he said of the Community Foundation’s work.
Middleton shared a story of a young couple with a daughter. The father was suddenly killed while participating in a biking event when he was struck a car of a drunk driver. Through the Community Foundation’s efforts, an education fund was set up for the young child who lost her father in that tragic incident.
Ellen Flowers Fields, in introducing Franklin of ERIMAX, told the audience that this successful entrepreneur “helps others in extraordinary ways.”
Charles County Public Schools Tim Bodamer praised Grasso of Island Music for his benevolence to Charles County students since establishing the business.
“He not only has built the music store, but he is also lead guitarist in a band and is president of the La Plata Business Association,” Bodamer said.
Jan Barnes laughed when she introduced Knott.
“When Buddy came in, he asked me, ‘why are you here?’ Now you know why I’m here,” she said.
“People have no idea what Buddy does for others,” Barnes added. “His farm on Flat Iron Road located in Great Mills is the North Pole of Southern Maryland.”
She touted Knott’s philanthropic efforts, noting that when local musicians were looking for a venue for a concert to raise money for hospice, Knott stepped forward. In just a few years, Bluegrass for Hospice has raised more than $32,000.
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