It’s the Year of the Woman in Bel Air
Celebrating Mary Chance’s career of government service for Harford County residents
“Doing good” is something that Town of Bel Air resident Mary Chance learned from watching her grandmother, whose loyalty to family, church and community continues to inspire her to this day.
Over a 28-year career with Harford County Government, she served as the Director of Volunteers, Director of Community Services and as the Director of Administration for former County Executive David Craig. For Chance, local government can and does make a difference in people’s lives.
Chance has overseen government programs that help people, especially those in need, live their best lives here. She has matched volunteers with nonprofits who need them. As Director of Community Services, she managed expansion of county transportation services so people without cars can get to jobs, doctors’ appointments, shopping and to Harford Community College. Her office developed drug control policies that matched changing needs in the county. Community Services also directs the Office on Aging, the county’s mediation services, the Grant in Aid supports and other programs.
She regards the work with then-County Executive Jim Harkins and other community leaders in establishing Welcome One, the county’s first homeless shelter, as perhaps the most rewarding project of them all. The shelter was controversial in some quarters at the time. “I look back and feel that we really did something good,” she says.
After retiring from Harford County Government six years ago, Chance was recruited by Jones Junction car dealership as their first Community Liaison. She helps the dealership administer its philanthropic outreach, which benefits people served by local nonprofits, churches, schools, recreation leagues and medical facilities.
Last year Chance took over as president of the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation from founder and long-time president Bill Cox. Since 1998, the GBACF has raised and given away more than $1 million dollars to help pay for capital improvements for organizations such as SARC, the Kaufman Cancer Center, the Harford Crisis Center, LASOS and Habitat for Humanity.
Now, Chance now wants to teach the value of community service to her own three school-aged granddaughters. All three recently got a start by volunteering to help set up the first Winter Wonderland celebration that took place in downtown Bel Air this past holiday season.
“I want my granddaughters to understand that you have to give of yourself,” she says. “If you want things to be better, you have to be a part of making it better.”