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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Lions Club to honor Wileys with Berlin Award April 23

(April 9, 2015) Berlin resident Helen Wiley was honored last month as “Volunteer of the Year” by the town’s chamber of commerce.
Later this month, Helen and her husband, Mike, will be presented with the 50th annual Berlin Award by the Berlin Lion’s Club.
The couple moved to the area a decade ago after spending their summers vacationing near Berlin.
“I worked in the school system in Anne Arundel County and Mike was a firefighter, so we would have a lot of time in the summer that we could spend down here and we discovered Berlin,” Helen said. “We liked the small-town atmosphere and the friendliness of the people so my husband said, ‘When I retire this is where I want to land.’”
The Wileys figured they would move to the area and “be a little quiet” while enjoying their retirement, Helen said.
“And then we started getting involved just because it’s such a wonderful town,” she said. “People are so good here and we just liked being a part of it.”
Helen runs the volunteer-staffed Church Mouse Thrift Shop on Main Street, an organization of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church that supports local and national outreach programs.
The role, she said, was not one she actively pursued.
“St. Paul’s had run it for many, many years, and the lady that ran it was getting too old to take care of it and there wasn’t any money to tend to it,” Helen said. “I didn’t want to see it close because it meets such a need to local people, so I was willing to step in there and take care of it.”
Helen credited her team of volunteers, including Mike, with the success of the nonprofit.
Mike is also the chairman of the parks commission in Berlin, a frequent volunteer at town events and the de facto maintenance and upkeep man for the Berlin Chamber of Commerce sign on Route 50.
“We’re also active with our church,” Helen said. “Mike and another girl do food shopping for the local pantry up at the Baptist Church. Every month we call up there and find out what food they’re missing and Mike and Jan go up there and purchase food to supplement their lack of what’s in the cupboard.”
The couple also volunteer at area nonprofits including Diakonia and Worcester Youth and Family.
Mike credited his mother, a grass roots activist during the early years of the environmental movement, as a key influence. Helen, meanwhile, cited her father.
“He was very community oriented in Annapolis and was in the Navy,” she said. “He instilled in me the idea of giving back and I’ve always had a passion for it. There’s actually a memorial in downtown Annapolis in honor of my father and stepmother, who were very active in the community.”
Helen said she and Mike were humbled upon learning they would receive the Berlin Award.
“We’re the 50th recipient and I’m thinking, ‘We didn’t grow up here,’ but I’ve been here 10 years and I guess we’re sort of accepted as Berliners,” she said. “I feel very welcomed by that. I’m honored that they would consider me to be in line with all these other people from the past. It’s an honor.”
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams, who gave the keynote address during the chamber of commerce awards ceremony last month, praised the Wileys as an inspiration for others.
“They just seemed to magically appear about a decade ago and instantly, it was like they had lived in Berlin forever,” he said. “Even though they spent the majority of their lives in another place, it’s like they’ve been here the whole time. I think they’re just a perfect fit for our town and I think they’re wonderful examples of how you can make your community a better place by volunteering, and by simply enjoying it.”
Williams said Helen and Mike “inspired a lot of other people to volunteer” in Berlin.
“I’m ecstatic they’re being honored,” he said. “The Berlin Award winners are a ‘who’s who’ and Mike and Helen are absolutely the cream of the crop. The entire community is very pleased and I hope there will be a really good turnout.”
The Berlin Award banquet will be held on Thursday, April 23 at the Berlin Fire Hall on North Main Street. Tickets, $25, can be purchased by calling Russ Barrett at 410-726-3823.