Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Sharon – 2023 Wertheimer Fellow

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Sharon – 2023 Wertheimer Fellow

When Sharon Jacko was recruited in 2019 as a member of the Literacy Council Board of Directors, she shared a memory of her mother: “{She} taught me the importance of reading at a very early age. I know how many doors were open for me because I could read. With my involvement in the community, I see how many doors are closed to those who don’t have {basic literacy skills.}”

She decided early on to open those doors for others. And that goal has been the retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel’s North Star. She became president of the Women of Hope Project in Afghanistan, providing resources to help Afghan women and their families escape from illiteracy’s constraints. That commitment followed Sharon to Frederick County, where she has volunteered with such organizations as United Way, Frederick County Veterans Advisory Council, Heartly House, Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, and the Literacy Council. Last month, the Community Foundation of Frederick County honored Sharon, as one of two Wertheimer Fellows, with the Wertheimer Award for outstanding community service.

Sharon’s tenure at the Literacy Council spanned the COVID years when all organizations were struggling to navigate the pandemic and still provide services. Having strong leaders like Sharon on our board helped guide the Council during its transition to new ways of providing services to adult learners and their families.

Sharon is always willing to volunteer and give generously of her time, including through hands-on projects like supporting our annual fundraiser, Scrabble Mania for Literacy, competing on her own team and sponsoring student-volunteer teams. During COVID, Sharon and her sister personally hauled an SUV full of heavy plexiglass sheets to the Literacy Council to make sure we were prepared!

This year, Sharon became president of the Literacy Council Board of Directors during its 60th anniversary! We are all benefiting from her leadership and guidance, commitment to volunteerism, and an understanding—born of experience—of community issues and solutions. She was instrumental in the Council’s recent strategic planning efforts and helped to formulate a set of dynamic goals that will propel the organization to its next level.

With leadership such as hers, there’s no telling how many more doors the Literacy Council will open in the years to come. Congratulations, Sharon!!