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The Power Of Listening: A Central West Baltimore Community Convo


To All Who Are Concerned,

Associated Black Charities (ABC) acknowledges structural racism's effect on the racial wealth gap, workplace discrimination, health inequity, disparities in housing policies and practices, educational inequality, discriminating and dehumanizing laws and policies, and more. ABC’s mission is to eliminate structural barriers and advance long-term solutions that create new opportunities for African Americans to thrive. Using an equity framework as a convener and thought leader to end race-based barriers that impede African Americans from having an opportunity to succeed is at the heart of all of ABC's initiatives.


We value our role as connectors in the Greater Baltimore community and feel that we are uniquely positioned to set the table for communication and positive exchange among all of the stakeholders that want Baltimore to be better.


We understand that empowerment must be included in racial equity work as it helps to uplift and support our communities of color, giving them a voice and a role in shaping the solutions to the challenges they face. We feel that the work is about creating conditions that allow individuals and communities to have control over their own lives and to shape the systems and institutions that impact them.


When individuals and communities are empowered, they are better able to identify and address their own needs, and to advocate for their rights and interests.


On Thursday September 28, 2023, ABC joined the Central West Baltimore community at Baltimore Unity Hall to ensure the community’s voice is amplified, and that their experiences and perspectives are shared in a way that gives both attention and visibility to their issues and causes. It is our commitment to provide a platform for community voices to be heard and valued. The community is comprehensive of all stakeholders concerned about happenings in Central West Baltimore.


In our goal to help create and foster greater collaboration, cooperation, and effective solutions; we partnered with the No Boundaries Coalition.


We convened residents, community organizations, faith leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders. They were invited to discuss their work and bring forward community resources and the floor was opened for dialogue about what is going well in the community, and issues that need to be addressed with collaborative attention.


In addition to community residents and No Boundaries Coalition leadership, notable attendees included community and organizational representatives and Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby.


What ABC Heard:


Going Well:

· Many community organizations looking to make a positive impact

· Residents care about their communities


Needs To Be Addressed:

  • Tainted water

  • Cleaner neighborhoods (additional trash receptacles)

    • Put additional processes in place for legally dumping trash

    • Trash pickup every day in Mt. Vernon but not in other areas (disparity with midtown locations)

    • Trash pickup (regulated or increased) - not picked up in alleyways or particular neighborhoods

    • Pollution increases the need for trash pickup

    • Illegal dumping leads to additional trash and large items in the community

    • Littering

    • The breakdown of DPW and how does that translate to the community

  • Overgrown outdoor spaces not being kept up

  • Crime and establishing the proper communication challenges between community members, law enforcement, and community leaders

  • Lack of Mental health services and the traumas that caused the bigger issues (better understanding of people)

    • Therapy and mental health care and removing the stigmas (creating safe spaces to do so)

    • Culturally competent programs around mental health and not being one size fits all programs

    • How can we help make sure community-based organizations and culturally competent organizations help move state funding to help the mental health issue in Baltimore?

  • Housing resources needed, particularly for people w behavioral issues that make it difficult to rent

    • Access to housing for residents and treatment programs

  • Special approach to helping drug addicts (compassionate care)

Nick Mosby Remarks:

  • Post Covid - city programs have shut down/ lack of personnel and retention at DPW.

  • A lot of vacancies at the city level (Baltimorecity.gov)

  • Illegal dumping - looking to push initiatives to stop illegal dumping (cameras, etc. to hold people accountable)

  • Grime is connected to crime

  • City reduced budgets and services lead to disinvestment in certain communities - no longer give back to communities (reduction of services should be shared amongst the community)

  • Contact Nick Mosby for overgrown trees in area

  • Resources put into behavioral health, but competency has not caught up to these initiatives (federal and state funding is not being funneled through and is being provided to organizations not looking to actually help the community but line their products)

  • Mental health effects on children (through trauma and life circumstances) - the state is making more of an effort to create safe havens, resources center, and mental health for kids

  • Kids missing 30 to 50 percent of school from Kindergarten to 3rd grade (showing direct link of kids going into the criminal justice system)

  • School and community go hand in hand with ensuring the future success of our kids

  • Post Covid - alarming rates of mental health and suicide among Black people specifically Black women/ creation of hotline (24:7) to allow people to access support

  • We know kids who are on a pathway to commit crimes - why do we wait until these kids commit crimes to provide them resources?

  • Juvenile justice system needs to be revamped

  • To change laws, you need an advocate on the legislative side to push laws forward

  • Ensure safety around Penn North/Greater Mondawmin (kids do not feel safe commuting to school) - aggressive security at schools

Resources/ Organizations:


Eric Brockman (FOCUS): Free IT training/certification program, also purchases dilapidated home and allow students to purchase homes through staffing agency that the students are owners of


Lady Brion – Baltimore Arts District:(founded in 2019) - Trying to develop opportunities for Black creatives/ fellowship application is currently open for up to 20k (18 to 24). Other events throughout the year for Black creatives. Currently in a capital campaign to build a center (1900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue).


No Boundaries Coalition:

· leadership program (12-week series to write community grants) people can register through interest form to stay connected

· Workforce development

· Community market - fresh and affordable produce. Market is run by volunteers in the community (ages 9 to 15 years old)

· Focus on Child Interrogation Protection Act, also will have a list of activities for youth justice month


United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Federal documents available for tax credits


Eric Solza - Midtown Belvedere: (midtown trash pickup) - nonprofit to help with trash pickup - citizens pay for trash


Sade (owner of mental health facility) - need more Black people in commercial real estate space/ need investment into mental health/ housing resources


St. Francis Neighborhood Center: help with housing


Jayson Green (New Song Academy/ Community Learning Center): revitalizing basketball court on old Gilmore campus, installing putting range across from school, looking for volunteers/ supporters to impact youth


Brandon Hanson (Baltimore City Youth Fund): provides money to grassroots organizations serving ages 0 to 24, funds all types of programs


The PATIENTS Program - Rodney Elliott: 10/13 Patients Day Event for mental health in west Baltimore community, working collaboratively to address the issue. Panel/health fair, resource center, free registration


Victor Ferguson - Upward Mobility Community: focus on the pillars of wellness, tools and resources to grow together as a community, optimal wellness community


Black Ass Flea Market: Black entrepreneurs and vendors


Charm City Slam: poetry competition for cash prizes


Phil Leath (We R US): 1000 young people and organizations that come together to share resources within the community


Access Photos from this Community Convo: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAXjc7


Associated Black Charities is calling to action all stakeholders with resources to shore up the things that are going well in the Central West Baltimore community, and to take immediate action toward supporting the resolution of the community issues identified.


If you are an agency, a business, a community member, or other entity that can assist, please contact Associated Black Charities at info@abc-md.org to be connected.


Together, we can change the future.


Sincerely,


Chrissy M. Thornton

President & CEO

Associated Black Charities





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