UMES community service activist is national award candidate

  • Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    Clifton H. Harcum - Jefferson Award nomineePRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (March 27, 2013) - UMES residence director Clifton H. Harcumis headed to Washington in June, where he will represent Delmarva as the region's nominee for a prestigious national honor that celebrates altruistic Americans.

    A panel of judges working with WBOC-TV, the Salisbury television station that sponsors the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, selected Harcum over nine other nominees. He learned of the honor during a ceremony at TV station held during spring break.

    "At first, I couldn't believe they said my name," he said. "I thought for a second I was dreaming."

    The mission of the Jefferson Awards, according to WBOC, is to "encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service."

    Here's a synopsis generated by WBOC outlining Harcum's activities that impressed judges:

    • He helped organize an annual "Day of Thanksgiving" by working with business and organizations to provide food baskets to hundreds of needy families on the lower Eastern Shore.
    • He was instrumental in starting Generating Realistic Achievement of Success and Possibilities, a community outreach and development group that organizes college fairs promoting the UMES to students at Somerset County's two public high schools. In the fall of 2012, G.R.A.S.P. mobilized student-volunteers to participate in a town-gown community clean-up project.
    • In 2006, he created "Men of Distinction" for college-age men and recently started a fund that will provide $3,000 in annual scholarships to deserving high school students who don't qualify for other financial aid.
    • He is active in the Rotary Club of Salisbury and serves as advisor to a UMES chapter of Rotaract, a service club geared to young adults.

    Judges also took note of Harcum's visits to high schools to make life-skills presentations on such topics as college preparation and goal setting. Students he encounters "find Clifton inspirational and testify to the positive difference he makes to their lives," according to WBOC.

    The TV station identified fellow UMES residence director Phillip M. Thomas as one of the people who nominated Harcum.

    "It is my personal belief … this award must have been tailor-made for Mr. Harcum," Thomas wrote. He "inspires others to find their own strength, persevere through difficult times and provides assistance whenever he can to all the residents of Delmarva."

    Harcum's latest project was "Stepping Up," a community summit that challenged adolescents to combat cyber-bullying and rebuff the lure of gangs. Another of his community outreach ventures is "Healthy Choices, Healthy Lifestyle," which partners UMES, the Maryland Food Bank, the Child and Family Development Center and G.R.A.S.P. to provide produce and health information for low-income families.

    Harcum is a nominee for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award, a category the Jefferson Awards organization created in 1974 to recognize "outstanding public service benefiting the local community." Five nominees from across the country will be named Onassis award winne