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The Power Of Listening: A Cherry Hill 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 Wednesday February 15, 2023, ABC joined the Cherry Hill community in Baltimore 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.


In our goal to help create and foster greater collaboration, cooperation, and effective solutions; we partnered with the Youth Resiliency Institute, a Cherry Hill based non-profit organization in Maryland dedicated to inspiring realization of the authentic self in children, youth and young adults in Baltimore.

We convened over 100 residents (across generations), community organizations, faith leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders at the Cherry Hill Town Center. Stakeholders 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 the Youth Resiliency Institute, notable attendees included representatives from the Cherry Hill Ministerial Alliance, HIPPY Program, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods, Safe Streets Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Eagles Youth Development Program, Cherry Hill Community Coalition, Humanim, MAG Partners, a representative from Councilwoman Phylicia Porter’s office, and Cherry Hill Strong.

What ABC Heard:


Going Well

  • Close-knit community of people who care about one another

  • Elders and younger residents working together for change

  • New Cherry Hill Family Congress – a cross generational engagement that provides opportunities to learn together, share opportunities, and grow future generations of leadership. This initiative addresses immediate needs and addresses critical issues in the community.

  • Community crime prevention efforts in place via Safe Streets

  • Many good Youth Programs in the community; wellness programs for elders

  • Willingness of faith community to enter partnerships

Needs To Be Addressed

  • No supermarket/grocery store in the community; greater discussion needed about why a supermarket is not in Cherry Hill. Community members offered multiple reasons for why there is not a supermarket in Cherry Hill.

  • Increased Mental health care support needed for youth

  • Need for greater investment in Cherry Hill education

    • Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School Library not currently resourced with books

    • New Era Academy going away

    • Since the pandemic, Teachers and School officials have limited parents from coming inside of the school

    • Transportation issues for young children getting to school who live further away from their respective schools

  • Need increased activities for young people (more playgrounds and safe spaces)

  • Ongoing Crime and Violence in the community (robberies)

  • Bus Stops spaced too far apart for elder members

  • Seniors would like transportation provided for them to get food and other items on their own.

  • Concerns about ongoing development in South Baltimore and effects on Cherry Hill

    • Losing a valuable High School

    • Not enough broad updates on Community Benefits Agreement

    • Representatives are no longer frequenting the community or attending meetings

    • Make sure community members know about funding opportunities from the benefits agreement

    • Need more transparency and communication about how funds are being allocated

    • Need more accountability for organizations receiving funding and consistent reporting from them

    • Understanding that the affordable housing opportunities being offered are priced too high for low-income residents.

    • Community’s perception that resource allocation was a direct attempt to keep people of color out of and away from Baltimore Peninsula

    • Concerns about possible displacement as development is taking place in Cherry Hill

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


The community members are presently relying on the Cherry Hill Community Coalition and Cherry Hill Strong for community updates and text alerts. If you are an agency, a business, a community member, or other entity that can assist, please extend yourself through those connectors, or contact Fanon Hill at Youth Resiliency Institute at fanon@youthresiliencyinstitute.org or 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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