The theme of this year’s Philanthropy Day Luncheon is “Looking Forward, Giving Back.” The Community Foundation of Southern Maryland is pleased to honor Joe Slater of SMECO, Pastor Mick Hilson of New Life Church, Darlene Breck and Grace Fuller as inductees into the 2018 Philanthropy Hall of Fame.

Joe SlaterSMECO – Joe Slater

SMECO is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 160,000 services in Charles, St. Mary’s, Calvert and southern Prince George’s County. They’ve been around for more than 80 years and are one of the largest cooperatives in the country.

As a customer-owned cooperative, SMECO embraces the principle of commitment to the community. Over the years, the Co-op has participated in charitable and civic events and has contributed funds to various programs that have helped improve the quality of life for their Southern Maryland neighbors. The employees donated time, thousands of dollars, and have participated in countless events varying from blood drives to marathons to charity walks that have benefitted several organizations. Collectively, SMECO employees pitch in together for the greater good.

SMECO supports a roster of local charities that help Southern Marylanders in need: Southern Maryland Food Bank, Catholic Charities Angels Watch Shelter, Project Echo, Three Oaks Shelter, Community Support Systems, Prince George’s County Public Safety Assistance Program, American Red Cross, HOPE of Southern Maryland, A Community That Shares, Salvation Army. Other community organizations and events that receive assistance from SMECO include: Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s County Fairs, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Volunteer fire departments and rescue squads, Southern Maryland hospitals and nursing homes, March of Dimes Walk for Babies, Local police departments, County libraries, County literacy councils, Health clinics, United Way, Cultural and historic sites and event.

SMECO’s Members Helping Members program assists customer-members who are struggling to pay their electric bills throughout the year and the co-op’s employees lend their support to organizations that help provide affordable housing in the region. Teams of employees participate in the annual Christmas in April home renovations in the region, and from 2013 – 2017 the Cooperative donated over $165,000, the proceeds from its annual Charity Golf Tournament and SMECO 75 Bike Ride, to various corporate charities in Southern Maryland that assist the homeless, our veterans and organizations concerned with the health of the environment. Hospice of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties are SMECO’s corporate charities for 2018 and will receive a total of $60,000 from the proceeds of the annual fundraisers.

Pastor Mike HilsonNew Life Church – Pastor Mike Hilson
Charitable Organization

Mike Hilson is the Lead Pastor at New Life Church in La Plata, Maryland. Mike grew up in North Carolina where he met his wife, Tina. They moved to La Plata in 1999 to pastor New Life Church, which has grown from a congregation of less than 100 attendees into several churches and video venues. The New Life Network now averages more than 5,000 in attendance across Maryland and Virginia.

Mike currently serves as District Superintendent of the Chesapeake District of The Wesleyan Church, and he is a member of the General Board of Administration. He also serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at Southern Wesleyan University, his alma mater.

New Life Church supports several community ministries and initiatives in Southern Maryland to include: Lifestyles, Southern Crossing, Safe nights, Catherine Foundation, Good News Jail and Prison Ministry, Maryland Food Bank, Living Water (plumbing and roofing in Nanjemoy), WAITT (private organization providing safe houses for battered women), Water and food stops at tent villages, AA groups who have consistently met at the church, Children’s Aide of Charles County, Farming for Hunger, Christmas in April, Health Partners, Arnold House, Jude House and several initiatives internationally.

Darlene BreckDarlene Breck

Darlene Breck is President and founder of the Southern Maryland Business Center located at 10665 Stanhaven Place, White Plains. Since 2003 she has been working successfully with many local small businesses and organizations, and currently leases office suites to over 36 different companies. One of her primary goals is helping small businesses grow in Southern Maryland. Additionally, for years she has provided a location for community organizations such as the Charles County NAACP, Democratic and Republican Central Committees and various other nonprofits to meet.

Extremely active in the community, Darlene served as the past president of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce and past Chair of the Board for the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center Foundation. She served on the Maryland Commission for Women. In 2014 she was elected as Judge of the Orphans Court and in 2015 she was appointed as the Chief Judge of the Orphans Court for Charles County by the Governor of Maryland. She volunteers as a part of many other clubs and organizations in Southern Maryland, strongly believing that being involved is the best part of contributing to the local community.

She has provided years of volunteer and financial support for LifeStyles, Inc. a local nonprofit which helps Charles County homeless and other people in need throughout the southern Maryland area. She has volunteered as a Grief Share facilitator at New Life Church supporting individuals and families who have recently lost loved ones. Some of her recent efforts include:

  • Serving on the Charles County Economic Development Advisory Board
  • Working with the Department of Social Services providing outreach for the Clifford House, a venue to help foster children and their parents to connect in a home-environment
  • Working on groundbreaking community fundraising efforts, helping launch the inaugural Big Hair Ball, a five-year charitable event supporting women and children in crisis
  • A major supporter of the initial Southern Crossings Capital Campaign kickoff which is converting a local motel into affordable housing for struggling families
Grace FullerGrace Fuller

Grace has made and continues to make significant contributions in St. Mary’s County. She is a person of true service and has given her time, talent and compassion without hesitation.

Starting in 1999 at St. Mary’s Caring soup kitchen, Grace became the Tuesday Crew Leader in 2003, planning a meal based on the food available in the soup kitchen each morning and leading the crew to cook lunch for 60 to 80 people each day and helping St. Mary’s Caring feed over 25,000 people each year.

In late 2016 she stepped away from the Tuesday Crew to focus on providing food to our local food pantries. When Grace saw the food going to waste in our local stores she spent months talking with various store managers and finally one of our big box stores decided to help.

After getting the food donated Grace soon realized that it was more food than could be absorbed by one soup kitchen. She looked around and located other soup kitchens and food pantries and established a network of people who could move the food to other groups needing alternative supplies.

Grace is an active volunteer with St. Mary’s Caring Food Pantry, Summerseat Farm, Port of Leonardtown Winery as well as various other organizations. Grace shows a passion for helping others and has made significant contributions within the St. Mary’s County Tourism industry in her efforts. Her passion for advocating for tourism is demonstrated through her participation in Tourism Day, Wine Industry Day and Agriculture Day in Annapolis.
Grace is a tireless volunteer to all of these organizations and individuals in the community. She continues to find creative ways to help out and constantly committed to those that she helps, whether it is through checking the mail and picking up medicine of the elderly or being a daily caregiving of her widowed friend.