Nearly every day a telephone plea for help reaches Gregg Harvey, and without fail he drops everything to answer. As a volunteer drug counselor at the Second Genesis residential drug treatment center in Rockville and a former addict, Harvey, 36, knows how the person on the other end feels.
"Someone once took a chance on me and believed that my life was salvageable," said the Germantown resident. "I'm just giving back what was given to me."
A Howard County couple, Mike and Lisa Lowe, have adopted Harvey's creed. They have spent much of their nine-year marriage opening their Ellicott City home to anyone who appeared on their doorstep, in the last three years taking in five pregnant teenagers and becoming the legal guardians of one.
"We really desire to help pregnant teens because we've been where they are," said Lisa Lowe, 28, who said it was her experience as a pregnant teenager in high school that propelled her to help other young expectant mothers.
The Lowes and Harvey represent Maryland's most valuable resource, Gov. William Donald Schaefer said.
Schaefer is scheduled to honor them and others from across the state, dubbed "Maryland's Most Beautiful People," at an awards ceremony Tuesday at St. John's College in Annapolis. Those honored will receive a governor's proclamation and an engraved silver tray.
"These volunteers are our state's all-stars," Schaefer said in a news release announcing the winners. "Each of these individuals possesses the kind of inner beauty that reaches far beyond a given community and creates a glow that lights up the entire state."
In the past four years since the contest was initiated, each county has held its own competition for the most hardworking volunteer. The local winners then represent the county at the state level.
Among the youngest to be honored this year is Rebecca Leigh Phillips, 18, of New Carrollton. A student at Washington Bible College, Phillips grew up helping others. In high school she taught the trombone to children whose parents could not afford to pay for lessons and spent Christmas holidays caroling before patients at Doctors Hospital in Lanham and residents at the Greenbelt Nursing Home.
Harvey, who was chosen from 100 nominees in Montgomery County, was reluctant to take all the credit for the help he gives at Second Genesis, and instead pointed to the courage of the residents at the drug treatment center.
"They just basically need someone to listen to them and give them some sort of guidance, said Harvey, who works in the plant operation division of Montgomery County schools.
The Lowes accept teenagers referred by Bethany Christian Services in Columbia, which counsels unwed mothers. The couple stress, however, that they just provide a warm, secure environment, and leave the choice of how to deal with a pregnancy to each teenager.
"There's always some risk in helping perfect strangers, but we've chosen to be vulnerable," said Mike Lowe, an industrial hygienist with a Columbia firm.
"It's good to see the girls grow and become responsible human beings. When it's over, you know you've done the right thing."