Wednesday, 30 April 2014 13:36

Angel Ball will be honored by the Optimist Club of Dundalk as its Citizen of the Year on May 20.
photo by Ben Boehl 

Optimists’ Citizen of the Year honoree calls volunteering “part of being a good citizen”

 by Ben Boehl

When it comes to major nonprofit events in Dundalk, it is hard to find one at which Angel Ball is not volunteering.
    Now, the manager of Dunmanway Apartments will be honored for all that hard work. The Optimist Club of Dundalk has named her as this year’s Citizen of the Year.
    Ball’s service to the community started when she took over the Concerts in the Park series from Mark Persiani in 2011. Persiani had retired after organizing the event for 20 years, and it appeared the series would end.
    Then Ball came along.
    “The ladies at Dunmanway Apartments wanted to do something in the community, so I went to the [Dundalk-Patapsco Neck] Historical Society and asked if there was anything I and my Dunmanway ladies could do,” Ball recalled.
    “Behind the desk was Harry Young, and he responded ‘I have the perfect job for you, the Concerts in the Park.’”
    In her fourth year with the concert series, Ball said she plans to change things up and has used her marketing background to come up with the idea of having tribute concerts for Patapsco, Dundalk  and Sparrows Point high schools.
“All the money collected those evenings for the schools will go back into each school as a scholarship for a child that graduates next year,” she explained.
    It started with the summer concerts, but Ball has kept busy all year long, volunteering with the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. (DRC), the Dundalk-Eastfield Recreation Council and the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society.
    Joe Stadler, who received the Citizen of the Year nod in 2011 and nominated Ball for the honor this year, noted that Ball burst onto the local scene within a matter of a few years.
    “She started out of nowhere and now we see her everywhere,” Stadler said.
    The Historical Society credits Ball with securing the donation of 50 bags of sand for the society’s Luminary Night in December and assisting Alan Holcomb with the plan for children’s activities  at the Dundalk-Eastfield Christmas Parade.
    Leah Bunck, outgoing Community Projects Coordinator at the DRC, said that Ball has been involved with DRC events including Fall Fest and the Mega Egg Hunt, which has grown to host over 1,000 children in four years.
    “Angel has a great vision for the community,” Bunck said. “She puts in the time and effort to see that vision come through.”
    The spirit of service, it seems, even extends to Ball’s day job. Dunmanway Apartments residents report that she went above and beyond the call of her duty when she assisted many of her residents after a power outrage that lasted multiple days.
    That assistance included getting food donations, disposing of rotten food in refrigerators and helping residents to find heat.
    Ball said that Dyden Hall, the owner of the apartments, told her that her position involved trying to help the community.
    “Being property manager is about managing this building, but [Hall] wanted me to help this community,” Ball noted.
    “I was told that I can take time off to go out in the community.”
    While it often appears that the field of local volunteers tilts toward older residents, Ball, an 1991 Patapsco graduate, is an exception.
    Ball has a child in middle school and a full-time job, but said she makes time to volunteer.
    She credits her husband Nick for being supportive and being a “behind-the-scenes guy” by helping with her volunteer efforts.
    While she acknowledged that such efforts can be hard to keep up, Ball said she would like to see more younger adults take the time to volunteer.
    “The world is moving too fast. Everyone is busy, and some people need to work two jobs. That is understandable, but all a person has to do is give one percent [of their time] to volunteer,” Ball said.
    “It shows your child all about what is part of being a good citizen. We all have to give back. Even if it is only one percent.”