Volunteer work places freshman among top Compassionate Marylanders

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January 23, 2012

Although freshman Caitlyn McSorley is proud to be among the top 10 Compassionate Marylanders, her motivation in entering the awards is to make it to the top five and earn support for Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding.

“A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with dyslexia and have often been on the receiving end of support and help,” says McSorley of Forest Hill, Md., who has more volunteer hours than most people twice her age. “Participating in volunteer programs gives me the opportunity to give back to others – to make a difference in others’ lives.”

McSorley’s essay was selected as one of 20 featured in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Compassionate Marylanders awards. Voting Jan. 9-13 narrowed the field to 10 semi-finalists. McSorley was number five with 1,404 votes. A review committee from the Governor’s Office and sponsor CareFirst will select the five winners from the top 10 finalists and announce those winners by the end of January. CareFirst will donate $5,000 to the charity of each winner’s choice.

If McSorley is among the winners, the donation in her name will go to Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding at Tuckaway Farm in Abingdon, Md., where the Social Work major has volunteered for the past three years.

Although McSorley is only a semester into her McDaniel experience, she is already making an impression.

“Caitlyn exemplifies the commitment to volunteerism and community service that is one of the hallmarks of a McDaniel education,” says Jim Kunz, associate professor of Social Work and program director. “I am not surprised that she has received this recognition, nor am I surprised that she is seeking the award in order to help out a social service agency. In a short period of time, she has brought great honor and recognition to McDaniel and its social work department.”

At Chesapeake Therapeutic Riding, McSorley – who loves animals and meeting new people – serves as a ring assistant and works side by side with the riders who are elementary- and middle-school-age children with physical and mental challenges. During her years at Bel Air High School she volunteered with the Best Buddies program, which promotes one-to-one friendships with teenagers with disabilities, and was president of the group in her senior year.

McSorley has traveled with her church to Texas and Lousiana to help hurricane victims – and she spends a week every summer at Agape House in Baltimore teaching preschool children bible lessons and older children how to cook. The week at Agape House culminates in a block party and hot meal – and grocery bags distributed to those in need.

It all adds up to countless hours and energy, but McSorley is far from finished. In fact, she’s working hard at McDaniel turning her volunteer efforts into a profession.

“My experiences have molded me into the person I am today,” she says, adding that she is active on campus with SWAT, the Social Work Action Team. “My volunteer work is helping me figure out what type of social work I want to do.

“Through my service to others, I’ve learned about who I am and what I must do to make a difference in people’s lives.”

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