At the 31st annual Celebrate Gaithersburg in Olde Towne street festival on September 16, 2012, the Mayor and City Council announced the winners of the 2012 Distinguished Citizen, Distinguished Friend and Outstanding Organization Awards. The tradition of recognizing individuals and organizations that make a positive impact on the Gaithersburg community has continued since 1988.
Stan Alster was presented with the 2012 Distinguished Citizen Award by Council Member Henry Marraffa. Mr. Alster began his involvement with the Gaithersburg community in the 1980’s, serving as a member of the Planning Commission, chairing the Gaithersburg Ad Hoc Growth Committee, and serving as a member of the Neighborhood II Citizen Advisory Committee.
In 1986, he was appointed to the City Council where he served until 2007. During that time, Mr. Alster counted among his accomplishments several City advancements, especially in the areas of communications and technology. He continues to serve the City to this day as an active and dedicated member of the Friends of Wells/Robertson House Board of Directors, which is striving to help break the cycle of homelessness and addiction within the Gaithersburg community.
In summarizing his accomplishments, Council Member Marraffa remarked that Mr. Alster’s numerous contributions, countless hours of service, unwavering dedication, and strong vision has made Gaithersburg a better place.
The Distinguished Friend Award is presented to an individual who makes significant contributions to Gaithersburg, but who does not reside within the City limits. This year the award was presented to Paula and Ralph Bunge, who were recognized for their extraordinary compassion for City families through selfless dedication and countless hours of service to the City’s Holiday Giving Program. In his presentation, Council Member Jud Ashman remarked that this amazing couple has been the foundation of the Program for more than 14 years, helping make it the county-wide model it serves as today.
In addition to the hundreds of hours they share serving residents through the Holiday Giving Program, Mr. and Mrs. Bunge also contribute their time and talents elsewhere. Mrs. Bunge serves on the board of the Upper Montgomery Assistance Network, where she has volunteered at least two days a week for more than 15 years, providing exceptional service to families facing eviction and utility service cutoff. As a board member of Gaithersburg HELP, Mr. Bunge has been instrumental in bringing in donations and grant funds to the organization for more than 20 years.
The Outstanding Organization Award was presented to Women Who Care Ministries and the Gaithersburg Police Foundation by Council Member Mike Sesma. A faith-inspired, community outreach nonprofit, Women Who Care Ministries was recognized for its safety net services for those who are low-income and need assistance overcoming hunger, domestic violence, homelessness, and substance abuse. Its signature program, “Helping Kids Eat” Backpack Weekend Food Program, provides more than 200 City children with backpacks filled with nutritious food items every Friday to ensure they don’t go hungry over the weekend. Additionally, Women Who Care Ministries partners with the City to present the annual “Restore the Joy” Domestic Violence Empowerment Luncheon, an event that commemorates those who have lost their lives to domestic violence, empowers those who have survived, and educates the community as a whole on the importance of coming together to help end domestic violence.
The Gaithersburg Police Foundation was also presented with the Outstanding Organization Award for its support of the Gaithersburg Police Department’s mission to provide quality services to City residents and for countless volunteer hours spent on programs and activities that promote public safety. Formed as a nonprofit organization in January 2008, the Foundation raises funds for educational opportunities for staff and community outreach initiatives, enhances recruitment and retention of officers, and provides technology assistance and logistical support to officers. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised funds for the purchase of two K-9s, sponsored runners in the National Police Challenge, supported numerous Department events, established the Police Department Library, and provided City officers with items so they are well-equipped to do their jobs.
For more information on Gaithersburg’s citizenship awards program please contact the City Manager’s office at 301-258-6310 or visit the City’s website at www.gaithersburgmd.gov.
Council Member Marraffa presenting Stan Alster the Distinguished Citizen Award
Council Member Ashman presenting Paula & Ralph Bunge the Distinguished Friend Award
Council Member Sesma presenting Women Who Care Ministries the Outstanding Organization Award
Council Member Sesma presenting Gaithersburg Police Foundation the Outstanding Organization Award