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What's Up Magazine

Thomas Hill

May 15, 2013 08:13PM ● By Anonymous

Keeping with his talents, Tom has taken the fundraising lead on a number of campaigns and drives—most notably the YMCA’s $5 million capital campaign for a Teen and Family Center in Easton—helping nonprofits across Talbot County raise the funds needed to effectively serve their community.

“Nothing gets done without having the money to do it,” says the chairman of the YMCA’s 2011 capital campaign and solicitor for the United Fund of Talbot County, among other things. “And the charities in Talbot County face a daunting task every year—to meet their budgets. What they have to raise can be between $100,000 and $500,000 just to keep their doors open.”

Mild-mannered in nature, with a soft, yet engaging voice, Tom speaks enthusiastically about all of his involvements, but it is with distinct admiration that he discusses his strongest bond, to the YMCA. “It’s been a combination of history with the Y and being very taken by what the Y does,” says Tom, who has fond memories of playing basketball as a young boy when the organization was located inside a church where the Safeway stands today. “It’s a non-exclusive organization from which a lot of families get tremendous help.”

A touch of gravity comes over his voice as he tells a story that epitomizes the YMCA’s influence in the community. It involves two young boys who approached YMCA of the Chesapeake CEO Robbie Gill and asked to join the organization. When Gill asked them why they wanted to join, the younger brother answered innocently, “Because I want to play in the NBA,” but the older brother had a much more sobering response; he said, “Because if we don’t have a place to go, we’re going to end up like our parents,” one of whom was in jail and the other of whom was addicted to drugs.

“The Y is a place where kids get love; they get things to do, things to eat,” says Tom, whose veneration for the organization seeps through each and every word. “It’s the most wonderful support place for families and kids that I know of in Talbot County.”

For all of Tom’s efforts to support the nurturing environment of the Y, he was honored in 2012 with the state comptroller’s office William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award, an honor bestowed upon a person or organization in each county who best exemplifies the late governor’s lifelong commitment to helping people.

Although touched, Tom was quick to dismiss the singularity of the award, saying it should have gone to everyone on the capital campaign committee, including Blenda Armistead, Charlie Capute, Buck Duncan, Robbie Gill, Kit Hughes, John Hurt, Jerry Jana, Bill Jones, Graham Lee, Ted Lewers, Ken Mann, Keith McMahan, David Nagel, Bob Perkins, and Sam Trippe. “One person can do very, very little, so it’s really a symbol of what many others did,” he says of the award.

Some of Tom’s other involvements include Habitat for Humanity Choptank, Character Counts Mid Shore, Rotary Club of Easton, and the United Fund of Talbot County, all of which touch a considerable number of community members, just like the Y.

It may have been Sir John Templeton’s ideas that sparked Tom’s philanthropic philosophies, but he’s relied on his own merits to make a difference in the only community he’s ever known. Call it enlightenment or call it fate, but the strikingly grounded family-, faith-, and civic-minded humanitarian seems to have found the perfect equilibrium in the process.