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Blount County Teen Named Top Hometown Hero
November 24, 2010

blount county teen hometown hero
Home Federal Bank President Dale Keasling (left) presents the 2010 Blount County Hometown Heroes award to Maryville teen Mary Baker (center). Baker was also the top winner of the first-annual awards program, garnering a $12,500 donation to the Alzheimer's Association in her name. Janice Wade Whitehead, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association, Eastern Tennessee Chapter, accepted the funds on behalf of the organization.

Home Federal Bank named 14-year-old Mary Baker as a Hometown Hero representing Blount County and also the top winner in the first-annual awards program at a ceremony at the Home Federal Bank Maryville branch on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Baker's combined Blount and overall honors netted a total of $12,500 for her favorite charity, the Alzheimer's Association.

The Hometown Heroes program spotlights ordinary people who do extraordinary things for others and their community. Over 175 nominations were provided by the public, and eight winners were selected by a panel of judges to represent different parts of Home Federal Bank's service area in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Sevier counties. A $2,500 donation is made in each honoree's name to the nonprofit of their choice, and an overall winner of the eight finalists will have an additional $10,000 donation made in their name.

"There are so many great people that selflessly do an incredible amount of good for our community and never get the credit they deserve," said Home Federal Bank President Dale Keasling. "Mary Baker's example of service is particularly inspirational, and we are honored to be able to shine the spotlight on a teenager with such volunteer spirit."

Baker's giving spirit enriches several local organizations. She has volunteered with the Alzheimer's Association since age 5, when she saw the devastation of the disease in her great grandmother. Baker has participated in the Foothills Memory Walk Challenge and held several fundraisers for the organization each year; including letter-writing campaigns; placing coin containers at area businesses; selling bracelets and pins and speaking to groups about the disease.

In addition to the Alzheimer's Association, Baker donates time to the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association. Through youth programs at Armona Baptist Church, Baker has worked to raise funds for mission trips and has gone on one such trip to New Mexico to help residents in homes with dirt floors, leaking roofs and no indoor plumbing.

At William Blount High School Ninth Grade Academy, where Baker has a 4.2 grade point average, she is Student Council president and supports Toys for Tots. In middle school, she was active in both the Union Grove Builders Club and Beta Club, logging over 100 hours of community service between those groups.

"Hometown Heroes is a win-win for everyone," said Keasling. "We are happy to honor these Hometown Heroes and pleased to support these programs that do such great things for our neighbors every day."

Baker designated her winnings be given to the Alzheimer's Association, whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Janice Wade Whitehead, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association of Eastern Tennessee Chapter, accepted the check on behalf of the organization.

Baker is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Baker Jr. and the granddaughter of Kenneth and Linda Baker of Maryville.

In addition to Baker, the following have been named 2010 Home Federal Bank Hometown Heroes:

• Samuel E. Hardman, representing North Knox County and benefiting HonorAir Knoxville;

• Phyllis Henry, representing South Knox County and benefiting Friends of the Smokies;

• Rita Layman, representing West Knox County and benefiting Mission of Hope;

• Gwen McKenzie, representing East Knox County and benefiting the Knoxville Area Urban League;

• Christopher Moore, representing Sevier County and benefiting Knox Area Rescue Ministries;

• Lisa Morris, representing downtown Knoxville and benefiting the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville; and

• Betty Smith, representing Anderson County and benefiting the First Baptist Church of Clinton Christian Service Center.

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