Local Volunteer Named Woman of the Year

The Baltimore County Commission for Women named lifelong Dundalk resident Irene Spatafore the Woman of the Year.


The Baltimore County Commission for Women named lifelong Dundalk resident Irene Spatafore the Woman of the Year.

The annual award, in its 30th year, recognizes women for their outstanding achievements, unique contributions to their community and their ability to provide creative solutions to complex community and social challenges, as outlined in the commission’s website.

Spatafore's background meets the criteria, and her list of community involvement in charitable and contributions to other programs is lengthy.

She was born and raised in Dundalk.  As she likes to put it, “I’ve been here for double seven plus one years.”

Born on August Avenue in Dundalk, Spatafore attended Sacred Heart of Mary and Dundalk High schools.  She then attended Saint Andrews Business School and after graduation, she went to work at the U.S. Army’s Fort Holabird where she worked as a secretary. 

After five years, she left Fort Holabird and married her husband of 57 years, John Spatafore. She raised three children, sons Gregory and Martin and daughter Valerie. John Spatafore retired from Bethlehem Steel Corp. after 34 years.

Irene Spatafore's first encounter with community involvement began in the 1960s  when she was a den mother for nine years with the Cub Scouts. An interesting side bar to this story was that another Dundalk icon, Charles Panuska, a longtime member of the Dundalk Optimist, was the scout master.

Spatafore's commitment to community service continued with her volunteering at the Distillery Senior Apartments for 16 years, where she was involved in a variety of activities.

She is also a volunteer at the Dundalk Family Crisis Center. Right around the corner, she assists in aiding the homeless with her work at Saint Rita’s Supper Table.  She also volunteers at the Center for Pregnancy Concerns in Dundalk. The list of places where she volunteers includes The Eastern Regional Center and Franklin Square Hospital.

Her most recent endeavor is Angels Supporting Your Troops which began its work 17 months ago. The group has packaged 166 boxes of necessities for more than  616 of service men and women overseas.

If the title of this blog sounds a bit strange, believe it or not, the military only supplies our fighting soldiers with one pair of boots a year and two pairs of socks.  I had to ask Spatafore the question twice, because I could not believe it. 

"The most important item our soldiers ask for are additional pairs of socks and foot powder," she said.

Other popular things of value are items we take for granted every day. They  include things like toothpaste, razors, band-aids, along with health and skin care products.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

kevin February 01, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Good Choice !
Buzz Beeler February 01, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I want to thank Dundalk's Editor Greg Stotler for his guidance in this story. Also to Irene's daughter Valerie and husband John for their patience in my persistence to get it right. A great day for Dundalk and the Spatafore's.
Buzz Beeler February 02, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Special thanks to Sharon Bailey, the president of the Baltimore County Commission for Women for her assistance in this article. She was very helpful in this story.
Lillian Tomecek February 02, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Congratulations Irene, As a recipient of the Woman Making a Difference Award in 2011, it was an honor to realize that other people notice that what We Just Do is acknowledged by others. Blessings and peace, Lillian Tomecek
Fran Allen McNatt February 03, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Irene is a fantastic choice for this award. As a life long friend of Irene's I can attest to the many kind deeds she has done in the nearly 70 years I have known her. I have lived in Florida for the last 25 years but we never lost touch. Several years ago my elderly Aunt, who still lived in Dundalk, began the physical and mental slide that comes with age. Trying to manage her care from this distance was very difficult. I ask Irene to check on her and see if she was doing as well as she claimed. Needless to say she was not. Irene increased her visits and kept me posted on my Aunt's condition. Aunt Elizabeth's wish was to stay in her home and as 24 hour care became necessary Irene supervised the nursing care provided by an agency. This went on for over two years. Irene with her wonderful husband, Johnny, never wavered in there watch and care of my Aunt giving untold hours of their time to allow my Aunt to stay at home and giving me piece of mind that my Aunt was getting the best care possible. Now tell me, where can you find a friend like that? All of Dundalk has benefitted from having a wonderful, giving and caring person like Irene to care for every person she ever met. With heartful thanks to Irene and to those who have recognized her many good works. Sincerely, Fran Allen McNatt
mary karson February 04, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Congratulations to Irene for her tireless spirit of work to help thoes less fortunate. Rudy and Mary Karson
Valerie Spatafore February 05, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Angels Supporting Your Troops, Inc is a non-profit organization, and we runs strictly on donations from Churches, Schools, and other organizations. Irene has worked very hard in the past to get donations for this special mission. She is well deserving of this award. However, as part of the Angels I know how hard this task is. We have been in service for 2 years and we try very hard to put a smile on the military men and women who our fighting for our country. I must say I am somewhat disappointed in the response we get for supplies and monetary donations for postage. You would not believe how many military soldiers have no one to send even a card to them, so we send care packages and they share with everyone. It is really a good feeling to do this and you should read some of the letters that we receive from the soldiers thanking us, they appreciate our box of goodies. We have spent close to $11,000.00 in postage. Please dip in your pockets as Americans and support us. You can go to the dollar store and buy alot of things. Please contact us and we will be glad to supply you with a flyer about us. Our military soldiers are PRICELESS !!!! Valerie
Buzz Beeler February 05, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Valerie, you mom was more concerned about the troops than anything else. I tried to email you updates by there seems to be a problem with your system. I also posted this link on the Baltimore Sun Talk Board. I have been a member of that board for five years.
Valerie Spatafore February 05, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Buzz, my e-mail is working Val
Brenda Kesterson February 07, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Irene, this an award you truly deserve. You are tireless in you efforts to see to our soldiers' needs. I am proud to be a part of your team. l am rewarded for packing by the letters of thanks that I receive. I've been told that "Some of the things you send get used to literally save lives every day, as odd as that might seem." And thanking "those who donate their time and money to allow us but a brief moment to know someone at home cares." And how the packages "inspire us to be and do what we do day in and day out." All these thanks are for you.
Nancy Spatafore February 08, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Irene Spatafore truly deserves this award. Baltimore County commission for women has acknowledged a women who has been there for the community in many ways. Not only is she there for her community but she is also there for her family. My husband and I have an autisic son (irene's grandson). She has always been there for us and has always taken time out of her busy schedule to help us with our son. I have seen Irene in action and I can tell you she is the energizer bunny. Where ever she feels a need to help with a cause, she gives it her all. We are very proud of her and we feel that she is our woman of the year every year. Congratulations mom!
Edward L. Craig February 08, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Baltimore County was spot on in naming Irene the "Woman of the Year". She is a tireless volunteer in so many areas. Just look at her biography. She is a dynamo and this can be seen most recently in her efforts to support our troops as part of "Angels Supporting Your Troops". She continually solicits donations to support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is no telling how many of our finest have been helped by this activity. Irene and her husband John also were major volunteers in helping my Uncle (John Arnick) get elected and re-elected to the Maryland State Legislature. Their efforts were tireless in his support. They were both great friends and neighbors of John who were key in his political career. I know that if he was still here, he would have loved seeing Irene get some of the well deserved recognition she deserves for her all her local, community volunteer efforts. Baltimore County and Dundalk could use more selfless and dedicated folks like Irene. Irene - - keep up all the great work and enjoy the very well deserved recognition. Edward L. Craig
Buzz Beeler February 11, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Rudy, and Mary, Irene checks in to see the comments that are posted. I'll make sure she sees yours.
Diana Haddox March 06, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Congratulations, Ms. Irene. We, the employees for the owner of Distillery, would like to thank you for your 16 years of volunteer service. I especially enjoyed your Christmas parties, wherein you made sure that the needy families chosen for each year's event would be able to provide their children with Christmas presents. You are, indeed, an angel.
Steve Young August 02, 2012 at 03:39 AM
I-Steve Young did select my wife-Patti as 2012 Baltimore County-Woman of the year because she is sweet, kind and helpful and always a deep loving wife. Patti always took great care of my father when he was really sick. So, in my heart I pick my beautiful wife-Patti Young as the winner of a sweet loving wife she is yes the winner. In love with my wife- Patti - sweet kisses of love-Steve Young
Buzz Beeler August 02, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Mr. Young is was thoughtful and kind of you to write your tribute regarding your wife Patti. You can always nominate her for this and other types of recognition.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »