Executive Director of MREC (the Marriage & Relationship Education Center)
In our September edition of The Heart of Carroll we feature Amy Gilford – Executive Director of MREC
Tell us about yourself/business?I’m a blessed mom of 4 adult kids and 3 grands with one on the way. Jim and I have been married over 39 years and I’m hoping he’s planning a special trip for our 40th next summer! In between the lines of the wedding vows was something about hunting dogs…we have three beautiful English Setters. I’m a WHS grad and a James Madison University Communication Arts alum.
In 2015 I was appointed the Executive Director of MREC (the Marriage & Relationship Education Center) which is the home of the Maryland Marriage Initiative. We are dedicated to building strong marriages and families across Maryland.
Some of my favorite things we do are our classroom lessons in the public school, date night events, our family event coming up this September – all these things are incredible programs that are possible because of relationship connections with people all around the area – not just Carroll County. MREC reaches around 2500 individuals annually.
Tell us about what keeps you and your family busy?
We’re emerging empty nesters at this point. Our “caboose” as she is affectionately known, is now a junior in college and the older three are spread across the country. We get to visit them some but not very often 🙁 We cherish the facetime calls and family texts.) As soon as we think we have a routine going the youngest shows up again 😊When she’s home we’re always looking for things to do together – biking the York Heritage Trail, going to breakfast at local diners, walking in our field and spending time gardening. We don’t try to stay busy as much as we try to be productive with the life we’ve been given. I am a reader and a fan of Planet Fitness.Tell us about your roots to Carroll County. What brought you here? How long have you lived in Carroll?My parents moved us here from New York in the mid sixties and all I remember on the way here was seeing cornfields everywhere. My father was a teacher and coach (every season of the year) and taught drivers ed, too; my parents raised us on his teacher’s salary. I don’t know how they did it. Just don’t ever offer me tuna casserole and powdered milk, though.
We built strong community connections right from the beginning: The neighborhood pool, church involvement, service clubs, athletics, all worked together to form valuable relationships and life-long friendships.
But living on a shoe-string budget didn’t intimidate me, or else I didn’t learn, because I ended up marrying a teacher and coach who stayed the course for 37 years and is finally “retired.”What keeps you here?
Roots. Traditions. The culture of a basically rural area. Pace of life. Family. Safety. The opportunity to home school and take advantage of public-school opportunities as our kids grew up. They had the best of both options. Because of our strong connections to the schools it was natural for me to become involved on the curriculum and family life committees over the years. We’ve invested in our community and it’s a blessing to see positive change through MREC and in other ways we serve.What is your favorite part about Carroll County?Aldi’s.
Who has had the strongest influence in your life?
Hands down, the Lord Jesus. My parents and grandparents were the early influencers. My husband keeps me steady and provides perspective. I deeply admire each of my four children and their three spouses.
What are your current goals and ambitions? Either personal or professional.
Early in my Christian walk which began in my late teens, there was an author named Anne Kimmel. She wrote a book called, “I’m out to change my world.” Not for my sake but for the betterment of those around me, I want our world to be a better place and for my life to honor and glorify God. I put my feet to that goal with my involvement on the political scene at various levels over the years. That has given me a chance to influence issues that are critical to our communities. Teaching Non-English speakers gives me an appreciation for our beautiful nation and the freedoms that are at risk, as I work with those who toil and labor to better themselves. Putting the brakes on family breakdown and all the subsequent damage is why I continue to work at MREC. I want this to be the go-to regional resource for building strong marriages and families. Someone once said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” So my desire is to work together with like-minded people to change the narrative about the value of healthy marriage, and the ripple effect it creates for future generations. This passion is strong but it comes second to serving and loving my family.
How can our audience find out more about you/your business?
Visit mrecenter.org and check us out at Instagram, mreceinsta and on Facebook, Marriage and Relationship Education Center. Home base is the Carroll Nonprofit Center in Westminster: 410-386-9003.