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It’s no surprise that more than 55 years since Bitner Henry Insurance Group first began supporting the Cedar Ridge Children’s Home, the relationship is still going strong. After all, in 1965 former agency president Harold Henry was one of three founders of the home in Williamsport, Maryland.
Today, Harold’s son Steve leads Bitner Henry Insurance Group in nearby Hagerstown—and has served on the nonprofit’s board for 30 years himself.
“Our agency is dedicated to serving those who serve others,” said Henry, the board’s vice chairman. “Cedar Ridge has been committed to our community for five decades, and it’s an honor to serve them.”
A second chance for at-risk boys
A residential and education facility, the nonprofit’s mission is to reverse the negative influences in the lives of at-risk boys from the ages of 12-17, said executive director Paula Shatzer. “These boys have faced a variety of challenging circumstances. Cedar Ridge takes them in, gives them a home, an education, and a second chance.”
As many as 32 boys can live at Cedar Ridge; on average, about 60 complete the program annually, with most staying between 6-9 months. They come from youth-detention facilities or are referred by social-services agencies across the state, Shatzer said.
‘Cedar Ridge has been committed to our community for five decades, and it’s an honor to serve them.’
Steve Henry, Bitner Henry Insurance Group president
Life skills for the future
The nonprofit provides both structure and support—the daily schedule includes morning and evening chores, study time, activities, and more. During their stay, the boys develop skills that allow them to make better choices for the future.
In addition to employees who volunteer on the board and attend events, Bitner Henry sponsors an annual golf tournament and other fundraisers for the organization. It’s part of the agency’s culture of giving, which includes providing staff with a paid day off each year to work in the community.
“Their vision and support have kept our organization going,” Shatzer said. Our programs would not be able to thrive without the generosity of people and businesses like the Henrys and Bitner Henry.”
From Cedar Ridge to Clemson University
That would mean boys like Tayquon Johnson would find it harder to thrive. Johnson grew up in the Baltimore area with a mother fighting alcohol addiction and a father in and out of prison. He moved to Cedar Ridge in his teens, where the late CEO of the organization, Dave Swacina, noticed his athletic ability and took him to a football camp. Today, Johnson plays at Clemson University for the top-ranked Tigers and is receiving a college education.
A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help more boys like Johnson unlock their potential. The honor includes a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco to Cedar Ridge Children’s Home on behalf of Bitner Henry Insurance Group.
“This is about so much more than budgets, policies, and programs,” said agency HR manager Darrin Coon, who is chairman of the Cedar Ridge board. “It’s about relationships, changed lives, and hope for a better future.”
Henry agreed. “It’s impossible not to be impressed with Cedar Ridge’s services, activities, dedication—and results,” he said. “I’m honored to continue the work that my father helped begin so long ago, and I’m gratified that so many others are sharing in it as well.”