Don Himelfarb’s chapter of community service

Don Himelfarb
Don Himelfarb (Courtesy of The Arc Baltimore)

When Don Himelfarb, 76, retired from his long-term career in the rental car business years ago, he decided it was time for a new chapter in his life.

That chapter was community service.

On June 30, Himelfarb completed his term as a board member for The Arc Baltimore, an organization that “supports people with developmental disabilities to lead fulfilling lives with a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaningful relationships,” according to its website. Himelfarb first got involved as a board member 11 years ago.

Himelfarb lives in Ruxton in Baltimore County and belongs to Beth El Congregation.

He grew up in Pikesville, where he attended Milford Mill Academy. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he began his career. He started out in Baltimore owning the Thrifty Car Rental franchise for Maryland and eventually sold the business. The company then hired him to run their Canadian operations in Toronto. He next became the company’s worldwide president, working out of its headquarters in Tulsa, Okla.

His passion for community service was reflected during this period of his life as well. He volunteered with the Canadian National Institute For The Blind, the Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma and United Way.

In his 60s, he retired and moved back home to Baltimore.

He interviewed with different community organizations to see which one he wanted to get involved in. He knew nothing about The Arc Baltimore beforehand, but after interviewing them, he knew it was the right fit.

“Arc just stood out as checking all the boxes for me,” Himelfarb said.

One focus of the Arc is helping individuals and families navigate the complicated system of federal and state government support for disabled individuals.

The Arc offers help with different services, including education, work, finding a community living setting and more, and can connect those in need with an outside provider.

“What was most rewarding was just seeing the actual individuals served, and their families participate and enjoy the services that are provided,” Himelfarb said. “It’s very heartwarming.”

Specifically, Himelfarb served on the development committee in addition to the budget and finance committee.

Additionally, he and his wife Eileen established a fund to provide money for discretionary purposes. For example, the funds can be used to purchase clothing and a laptop for someone looking for a job who cannot afford these items.

Himelfarb has received honors for his years of service. In 2020, he was presented with The Arc Baltimore’s President’s Cup. Then in June 2021, Himelfarb was named director emeritus at The Arc’s recent Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony.

“It’s nice to know that they appreciated the time I spent with them,” Himelfarb said.

While Himelfarb appreciates the honors, he has not thought about awards or strived for them. He just wanted to make a difference in the organization.

Even though his time on the board is over, he still pursues different interests. For example, he has served on the LifeBridge Health Sinai Hospital board for the past two years.

“It’s just extremely fascinating to see the workings of a health care organization from the inside,” Himelfarb said.

Additionally, in his retirement, he likes to golf and spend time with his children and grandchildren.

He also spends his time still helping The Arc Baltimore, such as with agenda functions and fundraisers, because he truly loves the organization.

“They’re so professional,” he said. “They’re so compassionate. They just do an amazing job.”

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