Photo courtesy of Harold-Mail Media.
Even as a teenager, Angie Ford worked with young people. Back then, she had a summer job as a camp counselor for the Hagerstown YMCA. Ford also worked for the Washington County Department of Social Services with foster care, independent living, child protective services and family services for about eight years. Among other jobs, she was a school counselor at Antietam Academy for about three years. For the past 18 months, Ford has mentored a young woman through the Washington County Diversion Program Mentoring Initiative. Ford was honored as the program’s 2013 Mentor of the Year, which she describes as “probably one of my proudest awards.” Ford, who earned a master’s degree in education with a concentration in school counseling from Frostburg University in 2003, is the second person to receive the award since the grant-funded program started in Washington County in January 2011. The grant provider is currently Pressley Ridge. “I attribute it to my gal. She’s the one making good choices,” Ford said of the girl she mentors. Mentoring coordinator Angie St. Clair said Ford, 47, was chosen based on the length of match and frequency and quality of meeting with her mentee. “Miss Angie is a phenomenal example of somebody who has the dedication and compassion to be matched with somebody lifelong to support their dreams and goals,” St. Clair said.
In her third year as assistant volleyball coach at Hagerstown Community College, Ford got involved with the program when the team agreed to mentor a young woman. During volleyball season, the mentee would go to practices and games, spending time with the students and coaches. Then, St. Clair asked Ford if she would be a mentor. Ford agreed, and in February 2012 began meeting regularly with her mentee. The program suggests a minimum of one hour a week with a minimum one-year commitment. She said she likes the one-on-one interaction with the teen. “You have to find the time. You make it work,” Ford said. She was paired with her youth when the girl was in seventh grade, struggling in school and having behavioral problems. “I was a school counselor at Antietam Academy. That plays a significant part. I’m not one to be totally shocked or overwhelmed,” Ford said.
The program is a voluntary program through the Department of Juvenile Services and is offered to youth, primarily between the ages of 13 and 15, after their first nonviolent offense. Both the parents and the student have to agree to the program. “We try to keep kids out of the court system,” St. Clair said. In the time Ford has been meeting with the young lady, the student has made the school honor roll several times and has had no behavior issues since the start of eighth grade. “She really turned it around,” Ford said. “I have a genuine connection with her. We just clicked. I just kind of included her in my life. We go out to lunch, dinner, cook with her at my house.” They also worked on crafts, making bird feeders or gifts for the girl’s mother and creating charts to help the student stay organized and reminding her to make good choices. By including her mentee in her life, there have been lots of discussions and teachable moments about choices and their consequences. “I feel blessed she’s willing to communicate with me,” Ford said. Ford, 47, graduated from North Hagerstown High School, where she played varsity volleyball for four years.
Ford also volunteers with Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley Inc. in the Angel program. Angels send cards and notes weekly to newly diagnosed breast cancer survivors. “My cousin passed away from breast cancer,” Ford said. Ford, whose maiden name is Mason, has been married to Scott Ford for 10 years. They live in the Cearfoss area.
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