Jim and Dale Yoe Community Volunteers “Extraordinaire”
I had the privilege of meeting this week’s personalities at their beautiful home in Solomons this past weekend. Jim and Dale Yoe are truly the most fantastic couple in terms of giving of themselves to others that I believe I have ever met. I say this honestly with no intent to demean or diminish the wonderful efforts of any of the “unsung heroes” that I have reported on previously in this column. Every one of the more than seventy personalities I have come to know are heroes in their own right with their own special talents and abilities. What makes Jim and Dale different is the scope and breath of their combined contributions over many decades of volunteerism. Undoubtedly, this couple, for me, are the “Energizer Bunnies” of Calvert County and I already know it will be impossible for me to capture all of their accomplishments in this short story.
It turns out that we knew of one another going back a long while; my wife and Dale were Registered Nurses who worked together at Calvert Memorial Hospital years ago. And two of our children were classmates at Calvert High School in the late 90’s. So, upon being invited to their home, we had many things in common to open my interview. And the more we talked, the more I realized how much Jim and I had in common and it became obvious this planned interview was not going to be brief. In fact, after more than two hours there still was more to talk about with this most interesting of couples.
Jim and Dale hail from Catonsville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore where they were both born in the same hospital six months apart [I knew better than to ask who is the oldest]. Following high school, Jim left to join the Navy and Dale went to nursing school. Jim qualified for the Navy Nuclear Submarine Program and was involved in electronics on some of the most sophisticated subs of that era. Upon completing his enlistment in the mid 70’s, he was hired by BGE as a reactor operator at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant and Dale was hired as an OB nurse at the old Calvert Hospital just prior to the new building being completed in 1976. They built their first home in the Ranch Club on land owned by her dad. There they raised their three children Laura, Cathy and James before building a new home in the Ben Garner Community in Solomons ten years ago. Along the way Jim completed his nuclear engineering degree at the State University of New York and became a senior nuclear reactor operator at the plant.
Earlier on they both became involved with the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad; Jim was a member for ten years and served as Rescue Chief for three years and Dale was Vice President of the Ladies Auxiliary. As their family grew, they became more involved with youth programs. Jim became interested in Scouting and rose to Scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop sponsored by Our Lady Star of the Sea in Solomons. Together they sponsored the first Band Boosters Club at Southern Middle where Jim had the neat idea to raise funds for the band by selling 1000 helium filled balloons for a dollar each to be released together with information for finders to contact the school to determine which balloon travelled the furthest. As it turns out, one balloon did make it to Okeechobee, Florida! But the fundraiser was not without controversy as the release of the balloons interfered with the work at Naval Air Station Patuxent River creating a hazard for naval aircraft operations!
As their children grew, they became involved with the Calvert High Marching Band and took them off to march in parades in Baltimore where Jim helped negotiate a contract that paid them to appear in five parades in one day at $1000 per appearance! While a member of the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department, Jim also involved with our own Patuxent River Appreciation Days [PRAD]. Additionally, this industrious gent became involved in the Calvert County Red Cross, as well as the United Way of Baltimore. He volunteered to complete renovations for the House of Ruth and two local Boys and Girls Clubs there while working with the United Way. And they have often prepared food to take to the people at Project Echo, the County run homeless shelter. They regularly support the County’s “Safe Nights” program, an organization that goes out and brings homeless people in from the cold on winter nights, feeds them and provides a temporary warm shelter.
Jim and Dale are active parishioners at Middleham/St. Peters where they actively support their Pastor, Rev. David Showers, a past subject of this column, and their community. Their extensive contributions are numerous, but suffice to say, some of the projects they have participated in include supporting a school nurse project in Haiti, free dental and health care screenings in conjunction with S.M.I.L.E., a food drop program that supports up to 170 families, and a church sponsored backpack program that is just taking shape. Dale uses her experience as a nurse to help with many health motives including service as the Parish Nurse starting in 2005, providing blood pressure screenings in 2006, and working with the Health Ministry at Calvert Memorial Hospital. Additionally with the help of 22 local churches and funds from the annual Harvest Ball, the long awaited Health Van is about to become a reality this summer. And they are helping plan the Dinner and Murder Mystery Fundraiser on April 22nd and the 7th Annual Health Fair to be held on September 10th.
I almost forgot to mention their support of their church’s mission efforts near Beckley, West Virginia following the aftermath of a hurricane and flood that damaged many homes in the town of Welch, and of their participation in the “Mustard Seed Mission” in Pennsylvania to rehab the homes of the poor. Jim serves as his church’s Junior Warden and is responsible for maintaining the building and grounds at St. Peters in Solomons and the Middleham Chapel in Lusby. He also serves as President of his Ben Garner Active Adult Community Association where Dale also serves as Treasurer. And if that wasn’t enough, Jim also serves as President of the Emily Condominium in Ocean City where they own a second home.
Whew! I wonder where they find time for all this! They claim it is just making good use of their time and they don’t look at it as real “work”. Despite all of these great examples of their contributions of their precious hours and efforts, they still find time for their pursuit of their own personal interests; Dale has written books on her love of Genealogy and Jim has a magnificent operating model railroad collection in the lower level of their home.
Honestly, I can go on and on about these two special people! I stand in awe of their terrific record of giving back to their community. Jim and Dale, I am so happy to learn of your work! You have gone way out of your way to make Calvert great! Thank you both for all you do!!!
If you know of an unsung citizen of Calvert County, please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.