By JANET HEIM
6:53 PM EDT, October 3, 2011
For more than six years, Pam Meredith headed up the Women Build program for Habitat for Humanity of Washington County. In June 2011, she decided it was time for a break.
“I’m taking a year off and work on my own house,” said Meredith, 61.
The house project that tops her list is to have two ash trees from her property dried and milled for wood flooring she’ll install herself.
Recruiting volunteers has also been one of her functions, which led her to speak at a Hagerstown Business & Professional Women’s Club meeting in January.
In September, Meredith was named Woman of the Year by the club, with many of her family members at the dinner.
“I thank the Business & Professional Women for their kindness, but it’s because of the ladies I work with. They make me look good,” Meredith said. “I was honored, but one often feels undeserving.”
Meredith’s work with Habitat began after she retired from teaching in 2004. She was a music teacher at West Washington Street School and Western Heights Middle School, then was a choral music teacher at South Hagerstown High School from 1982 until retirement.
Since she began volunteering with Women Build, Meredith, who is single, said she’s helped build all six of the county’s Women Build houses. She was house leader for the first five houses and got the sixth house under roof before turning over the reins.
The oldest of five children, Meredith saw involvement in Habitat as a twofold benefit — helping others while learning how to work on her own house.
She was following the example of her parents with their community service efforts, which included starting the Habitat affiliate in Morgantown, W. Va.
“I have had a wonderful, wonderful time. It’s so fun. We all help each other out,” Meredith said.
Meredith grew up in Fairmont, W.Va., and her family moved to Silver Spring, Md., her junior year of high school. She and all of her siblings attended the University of Maryland.
“I have learned a lot of great skills, but met a lot of tremendous, wonderful women. I think the women would agree that we’re getting more out of it than giving back, whether it’s skills, friendship or self-esteem,” Meredith said.
She used her community contacts to seek out donations and found out just how willing people were to give.
“People are generous,” Meredith said.
After devoting some time to her own house, Meredith said she’d like to volunteer with Hospice of Washington County or Meals on Wheels. Even though she lives in Falling Waters, W.Va., Meredith said she relates to Hagerstown.
Her work with Habitat has also earned her recognition from the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, a $1,000 award for Women Build from Walmart Distribution Center from a nomination by a former student, nominations as National Volunteer of the Year for Habitat for Humanity International and for the Peoples’ Choice Award, among others.
“It’s time for me to meet a new challenge. I had a great time. Life isn’t over. There’s more fun ahead,” Meredith said.
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