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.