The Community Foundation of Howard County, which raises, manages and distributes funds to support Howard County nonprofits, presented the Casey and Pebble Willis Making a Difference Award to Girls on Fire Mentoring and Leadership Program of Maryland and the Leadership Council Award to Erika Chavarria of Columbia Community Care. The awards were presented at their annual dinner and celebration of philanthropy held virtually Dec. 3.

Girls on Fire Mentoring and Leadership Program of Maryland was established in Columbia by the Center for Creative Life and Learning in 2015 as a mentoring program to enrich the lives of girls 8 to 12 years of age and prepare them to become leaders. The program matches girls with mentors to build their self-esteem and confidence, affirm their talents and gifts, support their academic success and prepare them for the future.

The Casey and Pebble Willis Making a Difference Award recognizes the program of a nonprofit organization in Howard County and includes a $3,000 award to support their mission. Established in 2000, the award memorializes Carolyn “Casey” Willis, a community activist who lived in Howard County for 26 years, and her husband, Dr. Eugene “Pebble” Willis, an orthopedic surgeon.

Erika Chavarria, a teacher at Wilde Lake High School, founded Columbia Community Care in March in response to the needs of community members struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. Columbia Community Care, which has over 7,000 members and hundreds of volunteers and donors, has fed more than 60,000 individuals and provided home food deliveries to over 6,000 households.

The Leadership Council Award recognizes a 25- to 45-year-old individual who has shown leadership and commitment as a member of a nonprofit board in Howard County and includes a $1,000 award to support the recipient’s organization. The Community Foundation’s Leadership Council, comprised of the foundation’s past board chairs, established the award in 2008.

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Scott E