News Flash


Posted on: March 13, 2023

City Staff Member Honored by Governor Moore

Award Recipients - Andrea Reneee Montague at right end

Andrea Renee Montague, Customer Support Specialist III for the City of Hagerstown, was recently honored jointly by the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and Banneker-Douglass Museum for her contributions to the community away from her position in Billing and Support Services.


Ms. Montague was one of six distinguished recipients who received a 2023 Black History Month Leadership & Service Award last month in Annapolis.


She was recognized for starting the Blerd Box (“Blerd” stands for Black Nerd), a program she designed to provide new diverse books to the underserved in the community, an endeavor that began in November of 2020 with her using books from her own personal collection and ones she paid for out of her own pocket.  Montague’s goal was to make it possible for community kids to “see themselves on the shelves” through the books she chose.


Amazingly, she is a two-time cancer survivor, and it was during her recovery time that she came up with the idea for the Blerd Box, which combines her love of reading and community service.


The Blerd Box’s success can be quantified both through its large collection and selection of diversity-themed books and the frequency with which its Little Free Library location is visited and transacted.  During the past year alone, more than 2,000 books have been shared and Montague has received notes and comments of appreciation from readers all across the county.  And, the Blerd Box continues to grow its grass roots, just recently partnering with a Black-owned juice bar where a book nook and the “Books and Beets Book Club” have been established.


In addition to books, she also makes puzzles, coloring books, crayons, bookmarks, and stickers available.


When asked how long she has worked at the City of Hagerstown, Montague said 15 years … and three months.  While she is proud of the time she has spent at her job, what she is doing with the Blerd Box is truly a labor of love, and the city and surrounding communities are very fortunate to have her heart, talents, ingenuity, and altruism working for them.  As the Governor’s Office put it:  “We are proud to honor your contributions, having helped change Maryland for the better through selfless service.”


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