The 2019 Wertheimer Fellows for Excellence in Volunteerism
Dr. Peter Kremers
Dr. Peter Kremers is the man behind Color on the Creek and Sailing into the Winter Solstice. Along with Lisa Collins and Kyle Thomas, two people Dr. Kremers credits with being instrumental in both projects, the beautiful blooming water plants that line Carroll Creek and the elaborately decorated and lighted boats in the winter months are becoming legendary.
Frustrated by the unattractive algae growth in the water along Carroll Creek linear park, Dr. Kremers researched ways to limit its growth. He worked with the City of Frederick for all necessary approvals and in August 2012, installed a test garden of a variety of plants. With its success, he established the nonprofit “Color on the Creek” to raise funds to support the project. In early April 2013, Dr. Kremers and a group of 100 volunteers installed 380 metal stands holding more than 1,000 perennial and tropical plants. This has now grown to 450 stands housing more than 4,000 plants and extends one-quarter of a mile in length, covering nearly 30,000 square feet of water. Frederick County residents and thousands of tourists annually enjoy the spectacular color provided by the plants and the clean water surrounding them.
Dr. Kremers didn’t stop with beautifying Carroll Creek in the summer months. He started building decorative boats, sponsored by local businesses, to add color in the winter months. Each year, the public is encouraged to vote for their favorite boat and raise money for community nonprofits.
By devoting the majority of his spare time to these projects, Dr. Kremers inspires others to become involved and help improve the community through his leadership. With his award, Dr. Kremers has created The Color on the Creek Fund to support the ongoing development of the water garden and boat display.
Ronald L. Layman, Sr.
Ronald "Ron" Layman, Sr., is passionate about Boy Scouting. He joined Cub Scouts at age ten and advanced through the Boy Scout program and became an Eagle Scout. After high school and time in the United States Marine Corps, Ron returned to scouting in 1980 as the Scoutmaster for Troop 274 and led this Troop for 34 years. He continues to serve as assistant scoutmaster. He has mentored no less than 112 young men (including his two sons) in Frederick County to become Eagle Scouts and positively influenced countless others. Some of Ron’s notable achievements include serving on the Catoctin Mountain Boy Scout District Committee for 11 years and the Francis Scott Key District Committee. During this time, Ron chaired dozens of district camporees, recognition, and award banquets. He served on the District Award of Merit and District Nominating Committees and co-chaired the Frederick County 100 Years of Scouting expo held in 2010. Ron continues to be the visionary, administrator, and caretaker of the 210-acre Walkersville, Maryland watershed property and through his leadership, this property has been used to host thousands of Boy and Girl Scouts and youth in other organizations for camp-outs, jamborees, Klondike experiences, and many other outdoor adventures.
Ron’s other volunteer activities include serving on three memorial committees and design chairman for several veteran monuments in Memorial Park, located in downtown Frederick. He has been a member of the Shangri-La Marine Corps League Detachment for 50 years and has served as treasurer and two terms as commandant.
Ron is described as someone who “through visionary leadership, physical labor, collaborative committee ventures, or simply his concern for the welfare of our youth, is a vital force impacting and improving our community.” With his award, Ron has established The Ron Layman Family Fund to provide grants to a variety of local nonprofits.
Leila Ghaffari, 2019 Youth in Action Honoree
Leila Ghaffari, the Wertheimer Youth in Action honoree, is a senior at Urbana High School and is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. From 2014 through 2018, she participated in United Way’s Summer Serve program and Leadership Week, an intense program about Frederick County government, history, the business community, educational system, and nonprofits. Through contacts she made during Leadership Week, Leila learned about, applied, and was accepted as a volunteer intern in the Office of the Mayor, City of Frederick.
Leila’s supervisors in her volunteer positions describe her as dedicated, focused, kind, and an incredible asset to the Frederick County community. She approached every Summer Service project with enthusiasm, compassion, and great energy. During her internship with the Mayor’s office, Leila focused on making a difference in three areas: combating sexual harassment, increasing young adult participation in local government, and bringing more art to Frederick. She represented the Office of the Mayor at Youth Advisory Council meetings and demonstrated excellent leadership among her peers.
In addition, Leila sings with the Frederick Children’s Chorus and has been a member since the third grade. Not content with just singing, Leila has been quick to volunteer whenever anything, no matter how small, needs to be done. From summer camp counseling to promoting Chorus events to the minor administrative tasks that needed attention, Leila has earned the respect of her Chorus peers and adults because of her “intrinsic motivation to help.”
Leila has great future aspirations. Her community involvement introduced her to various fields of study, and through science fairs and a summer internship at National Institutes of Health, she plans to pursue a career as a physician scientist.
With her award, Leila is providing a grant to United Way of Frederick County, with support to Heartly House, and a grant to Frederick Children’s Chorus.