This story was corrected on May 13, 2014. An explanation follows the story.
From housing, child care and hiker-biker trails to downtown improvements, volunteerism and, yes, even baseball, Bruce Adams has spent his life making Montgomery County a better place to live.
A few weeks ago, it was time for the county to show it has appreciated his efforts.
In a surprise presentation April 28, Adams, director of the Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships, received the inaugural World of Montgomery Citizen of the Year Award at the Montgomery Serves Awards ceremony.
“They pulled a fast one on me,” Adams said. “It was a great honor.”
Adams, 66, who lives in Bethesda, has been involved in community activities in the county most of his adult life.
He served on the County Council from 1986 to 1994, including president in 1991 and 1992. He started the Lazarus Leadership Fellows program for students in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School area to get them involved in community projects. He organized Community Service Day, which is now Community Service Week. As a County Council member, he helped organize the original Committee for Montgomery and cosponsored the legislation that established the Montgomery Housing Initiative and Commission on Child Care. And he helped launch the Capital Crescent Trail and Bethesda Urban Partnership, according to the county’s website.
“In all the things I’ve tried to do, they all involve people in their community rolling up their sleeves and helping their neighbors,” Adams said.
Adams grew up in Potomac but, he said, he was not very political. He just remembers that his parents were part of a group of people who got together and helped each other get what they needed.
“There was a spirit in the 1950s — ‘we’re building something,’” he said. “I guess I absorbed that.”
And then there’s baseball.
When he coached his son’s baseball team, he realized that many of the playing fields in the are were in horrible condition.
Adams said he came up with the idea of running a summer college baseball team — now Bethesda Big Train Baseball, which competes in a regional wooden-bat league — and use the profits to improve the county’s ballfields for its youngsters.
“We’ve made over a half-million dollars to put into fields for kids,” he said.
The idea for the World of Montgomery Citizen of the Year Award came from members of the board of Fund for Montgomery, a nonprofit that raises money to implement or continue community-building events. Those include the World of Montgomery celebration each fall, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations and Community Service Week, said Keith Haller, the fund’s chairman.
“It’s something I thought of for a long time,” Haller said of starting the award. Adams “is someone whose visionary leadership has ensured that Montgomery County is the most welcoming community and he is someone who has championed volunteerism and public service.”
Adams’ spirit will now become part of the award: From now on, the World of Montgomery Citizen of the Year Award will be presented annually as the Bruce Adams World of Montgomery Citizen of the Year Award.
Explanation: Bruce Adams didn’t serve on the Committee for Montgomery, Montgomery Housing Initiative and Commission on Child Care, as originally reported. Rather, as a County Council, he helped organize the Committee for Montgomery and cosponsored the legislation that established the Montgomery Housing Initiative and Commission on Child Care.