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The Power Of Listening: A Park Heights 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 Tuesday June 27, 2023, ABC joined the Park Heights 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. Community is comprehensive of all stakeholders concerned about happenings in Park Heights.

In our goal to help create and foster greater collaboration, cooperation, and effective solutions; we partnered with the The Lord’s Church of Baltimore and Bishop Kevia F. Elliott and Pastor Warren S. Wilson.


We convened residents, community organizations, faith leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders at the church. 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 community residents and The Lord’s Church of Baltimore leadership, notable attendees included representatives from Annie E. Casey Foundation, Seawall, US Department of Justice - Office of Violence Against Women, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods,M&T Bank, Fight Blight BMore, Greater Baltimore Committee, The Associated, Park Heights Renaissance, JP Morgan Chase, The AFRO-American Newspapers, New Elizabeth Baptist Church, Zeta Center, Henson Development Co., Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, ABC Board of Directors, and Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby and District 6 City Council representative and Council Vice-President Sharon Green Middleton.


What ABC Heard:


Resources:

· Sisters Saving the City - provides a safe space for youth ages 13 to 21

· Stop Oppressive Seizures Fund (https://www.thesosfund.com/) - disrupts and dismantles predatory housing systems in Baltimore. Assists with elder displacement (direct services and provides funding to help pay property taxes, water bills, etc.) to keep homes.

· Out for Justice – helps individuals who are both directly and indirectly impacted by the criminal legal system, advocating for the reform of policies and practices that adversely affect successful reintegration into society. Programs include voter registration/education, legislative, advocacy/training, legal facilitation, and additional resources

· Park Heights Renaissance – providing partnership and resources to help strengthen the Park Heights community – safe environment for community members, housing strategies, economic opportunities and advancement for residents/businesses

· FOCUS – provides community development in Baltimore City through free Workforce IT training for community members between the ages of 18 to 36

· Johns Hopkins University Innovation Lab –a social impact organization who is looking to connect with people in Baltimore to help scale companies and their impact in the community

· More Watter Co. – helps people with chronic health conditions by introducing them to exercise and nutrition

· Comcast RISE Grant Program – grant program for small business owners to help with expansion and growth

· Zeta Center – current focus on seniors but are transitioning to focus on women and mothers. Storks program in partnership with March of Dimes to provide prenatal classes, dietary, lactation, food disparities, and helping women prepare for birth. Also hosting free technology classes aimed to advance women in tech.


Going Well:

· Higher property values due to gentrification

· Increased parks and rec centers for the community

· Accessibility: I-83/Northern Pkwy/Coldspring

· Upgrades to local schools – Pimlico and Arlington Elementary

· Residents care about the community

· Fewer vacant houses

· Unity (lifetime stakeholders who fight to maintain the community)

· Churches still have strong ties to the community

· “Old School Shops” still in the community

· There is “history in the community”

· Mayor’s Office of African American Male Engagement in the community

· Pimlico Middle – Health Program with Sinai (first in the city)


Needs To Be Addressed:

· Some older stores are no longer in business

· Caribbean festival is no longer active and some of the “flavor/culture/soul” of the community has dwindled

· Gentrification and displacement

· Need for increased ability to keep residents in the community who want to be there

· Need a high school in the area

· Improved scores for schools

· Increased homeownership to build equity for the community

· More residents to be active in the community and attend meetings to make impact

· Food desert

· Residents are disenfranchised and disheartened

· Increased communications are necessary

· Improved connection between stakeholders and residents

· Desire to make sure community members are not working in silos

· Provide more resources to the clean green team

· Need to organize against policies that will harm the community

· Residents need to own and resource the community

· Changing perspectives to create excitement about the community

· Crime and blight


Associated Black Charities is calling to action all stakeholders with resources to shore up the things that are going well in the Park Heights community, and to take immediate action toward supporting the resolution of the community issues identified. We are happy to report that through this convening, one of the community resources presented has already received financial support and partnership from a corporate stakeholder who was present!


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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