When Ann and Ron Wayne started attending County Council or community meetings on behalf of the Sun Valley Improvement and Recreation Association seven years ago, they used to have to tell people where Sun Valley is.
But now, thanks to the Glen Burnie community’s activism, people know where the community is, said Ron Wayne, the association’s vice president.
“Now, we’re not just the community behind the Box N’ Save,” he said, referring to a grocery store on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
The Waynes and other members say that’s because the association is enjoying a resurgence over the past few years due to hard work. Because of that perseverance, even during a few years when membership dwindled to almost nothing, the association recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“I feel really really well with what we’ve accomplished,” Ron Wayne said.
The association marked the anniversary with the dedication of a plaque placed on the sign leading into the community. Sinnott said the association has 446 households and, of those, 260 were members last year. Membership renewals for the new school year are coming in, he said.
The association started not long after the community was established in the late 1950s. Young couples, mostly in their 20s and many without children, started moving in, said Pat Ditzel, the association’s hospitality chairwoman who has lived in Sun Valley since that time.
“When we needed a bigger house with three boys, we couldn’t afford it. And when we could afford it, we didn’t need it,” she said with a laugh of herself and her husband. “It’s a nice community, very close to everything. The majority of people are very helpful, and I feel safe here.”
The Ditzels got involved in the association right away, with Ray Ditzel serving on the Ways and Means Committee and selling tickets for all sorts of fundraisers. Pat Ditzel joined the association’s Ladies Auxiliary, a group that since has fallen by the wayside, save for a monthly dinner where the women enjoy fellowship.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about the association at first, President Bill Sinnott said. Some people thought of the association as a clique. Others were suspicious about activities not being done, such as the removal of untagged cars, when that was something the county’s zoning department handled, Pat Ditzel said.
Over time, the association’s membership dwindled. But officers credit Sinnott with turning things around, and many of them joined after hearing what they describe as “a call to arms” seven years ago.
“It’s been gradual. Slowly, we’ve had to gain people’s trust. A lot of people didn’t like us,” he admitted.
Activities now encompass everything from welcoming each new resident with a card and then a bag of items someone might need after moving into a new home—such as plastic cutlery, paper plates and cups, napkins and toilet paper.
The association puts up flags on street poles, which is a successor to its program of placing smaller flags in yards. They also put up flags of military branches at the homes of military families, and if a family has relatives serving more than one branch, the appropriate number of flags is represented.
The association also has sponsored several charities, including the Wounded Warriors Project, the Bubba Foundation, Partners in Care, and the North County Emergency Outreach Network. And they’ve had fundraisers to pay for these activities, selling baseball tickets, tickets to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a big-screen TV, and bicycles, Sinnott said.
These are all programs that fall under the association’s slogan of “People Helping People,” which Sinnott said keeps with the mission statement of serving as a watchdog for the community first, then Glen Burnie, then the county.
The reason for their dedication is simple, Sinnott said.
“If you turn your back for too long, your community will decay,” he said.