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James W. Houck Foundation

The Four-Way Test, which has been a guiding principle of Rotary International since 1943, asks its members to ask themselves these four questions when making any decision: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

In 1968, James W. Houck, Sr., then a member of the former Timonium Rotary, initiated a Four-Way Test poster contest at St. Stephen School, and throughout the years the program was expanded to the essay contests in middle schools and oratorical contests in high schools. The Rotary District for Maryland & DC (7620) adopted the oratorical contest as a district-wide activity, and now the program is offered by Rotary clubs across the United States.

In 1996, Jim Houck and the The Rotary Club of Hunt Valley established The James W. Houck Foundation, Inc. as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization to continue Jim’s mission and vision. Today, the Foundation supports a number of community and education-related programs including the Four-Way Test Program, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and a number of area charitable organizations.

Meet Jim Houck>>

The Four-Way Test Program>>



Steve Williams


Bill DePauw
Linda Dieter
Matt May
Anthony Pugliese
Jim Talbott

Lynne Cannon


Operation Warm

Operation Warm provides brand new winter coats to children in need, helping to improve self-confidence, peer acceptance, school attendance, and overall wellness.

We had another successful Operation Warm this year! We were able to donate 155 brand new coats to 8 elementary schools and 3 middle schools.

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey inflicted nearly $200 billion in damage, primarily in the Houston metropolitan area. Hunt Valley Rotary Club and The Houck Foundation Board voted to match member donations for Hurricane Harvey contributing more than $2,400 to help a 3rd grade classroom affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

The students needed math games, math centers and math manipulatives because they were lost with Hurricane Harvey. 

Our donation went to a Title I school in Port Arthur, Texas, where 100 percent of our students receive free breakfast and lunch.

The support received gives low-income students access to new resources and skills are an investment in their future and we are happy to continue to support these causes.

Santa's Helpers

Founded by Linda Schneider in 1989, Santa’s Helpers Anonymous seeks to make a meaningful difference during the stressful holiday season. It has grown from helping 10 to 1,000 families each year through word of mouth and no paid employees. It's run on 100% volunteer support of the hundreds of “elves” that donate money and dedicate time to wrapping gifts, loading boxes of food, cooking turkeys and making deliveries Christmas Eve morning. 


Gilchrist is a nationally recognized, nonprofit leader in serious illness and end-of-life care. They provide counseling, support and care to people at every stage of serious illness, so they may live life to the fullest. We are proud to have partnered with Gilchrist in fundraisers for an ambulance in Tanzania and their many other community projects.

Wheel to Heal

In 2016 we sponsored Wheel to Heal a charity walk that took place on a 3 mile loop on the NCR trail. Walkers had to be self-propelling on something with wheels. You could peddle, push, or pull anything you want as long as it has at least one wheel. 

The primary beneficiary was Pets on Wheels, a non-profit organization that brings therapy animals to facilities across Maryland for friendly visits. Pets on Wheels has over 480 volunteer teams and currently visits over 300 facilities on the entire western shore of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. The Houck Foundation continues to support Pets on Wheels.


Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) is an intensive leadership experience organized by Rotary clubs and districts where you develop your skills as a leader while having fun and making connections. We've been happy to send students to the three-day retreat.

Students learn how to:

  • Build communication and problem-solving skills
  • Discover strategies for becoming a dynamic leader in your school or community
  • Learn from community leaders, inspirational speakers, and peer mentors
  • Unlock your potential to turn motivation into action
  • Have fun and form lasting friendships

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