Civic Association will honor award winners March 3
by Terri Hogan
Each year, the Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA) recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that make the community a better place.
“Olney has been recognized nationally a number of times in recent years for the great community it is, and that is no accident,” said Helene Rosenheim, co-chair of GOCA’s awards committee. “Olney continues to be this amazing place without the benefit of a local government to foster our growth. We have been lucky to have a raft of residents, organizations and business owners and operators who don’t sit back and assume the other guy will do the things it takes to make a great community.”
Arnold “Arnie” Gordon, a dedicated civic activist, is not one to sit back. For his tireless efforts, he has been named this year’s Howard J. Garber GOCA Citizen of the Year.
Gordon and other GOCA Award winners will be honored at GOCA’s 2013 Awards Ceremony on March 3 at Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave. in Brookeville. A reception begins at 2 p.m., and the awards will be presented at 3 p.m. Several elected officials and community leaders will attend. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
During the past year, Gordon led the effort to dedicate the playground in Norbeck Meadows Park in honor of GOCA founder and beloved community leader Ron Berger.
“Without Arnie’s tireless effort, this playground dedication would simply not have occurred,” said Matt Zaborsky, co-chairman of the GOCA Awards Committee.
“Arnie is an excellent choice for Citizen of the Year,” GOCA President Barbara Falcigno agreed. “He worked tirelessly with the Parks Foundation to rename the playground in honor of Ron Berger. He organized a beautiful naming ceremony that included many residents, elected officials and even beautiful weather. Years of civic activism give Arnie the experience to know how to get things done. He is a true asset to the Olney community.”
Gordon, 74, said he was elated to be named GOCA’s Citizen of the Year. He received a Contribution to the Community Award from the organization in 2008.
“I’m so proud that I am not even going to my grandchild’s birthday,” he said. “Of course my family understands and thinks this is a big deal. I didn’t seek this but am glad that people recognize that I made a contribution.”
Gordon said he was determined to get the playground dedicated of the respect for Berger’s commitment to the community, as a founder of both GOCA and the Norbeck Meadows Civic Association.
“He was always the one you asked if something was legal or illegal, proper or improper,” Gordon said. “He was the community archive, and even during his struggle with cancer, he continued to attend meetings as long as he could.”
Gordon is in his 11th year as president of the Norbeck Meadows Civic Association and has been a GOCA delegate the past 12 years. He also is a former president of the Montgomery County Civic Federation.
Gordon’s pther civic involvement includes founding Boy Scout Troop 757, and running for state delegate in 2002. He was the Legislative District 19 coordinator for the O’Malley/Brown ticket the past two elections.
Following his retirement in 1989 as a senior executive with the Internal Revenue Service after 26 years in the government, Gordon and his wife Bunnie traveled to Kenya and Cairo, where he helped computerize income tax systems. He returned to the U.S. in 1995 after following a bout with prostate cancer and has been consulting since.
He currently chairs the State Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board for the county, a position he has held since 2008. He has served on the Montgomery County Victims Advisory Board and as a victims’ advocate in the district court.
He says he is involved because he wants to make sure that the community is protected from expenses due to miscalculations and errors.
“In an area which has the most educated populace in the country, there are many people who don’t know what’s going on in our local government,” he said. “You have got to be active and alert. We don’t have money to fight it, just each other.”
He said he understands that “soccer moms” and other young people don’t have the time to get involved, but he is at an age where he has the time and knowledge to do these things.
“There are a lot of people that make me look good, including Ron Berger, Matt Zaborsky and Barbara Falcigno,” he said. “But most importantly, my wife of nearly 50 years, Bunnie.”
Rosenheim said GOCA recognized early on in its existence the value of taking time to recognize those such as Gordon who give so much to Olney and of providing the community with an opportunity to say thank you publicly through its awards ceremony.
“Just as they say it takes a village to raise a child, it takes all of us working together to make a community and I think this year’s recipients reflect that range of individuals and organizations that have made a real difference to our community,” she said.