Meet Our Sponsor: Corpus Christi Catholic Church

The forbidding gray façade of Corpus Christi Catholic Church belies rich beauty within.

Home to some of the nation’s finest examples of Florentine glass mosaic, Corpus Christi is also home base for a close-knit, welcoming congregation.

Consecrated in 1891, the church was built by the five children of Thomas Courtney Jenkins and Louisa Carrell Jenkins in honor of their parents. It was designed by the Brooklyn architect Patrick Charles Keeley, designer of over 600 churches, with decorations made by an English company that participated in the design of the Houses of Parliament.

The church’s Florentine mosaics exemplify the lush coloring and imagery of the Pre-Raphaelites, contrasting with the church’s Gothic Revival exterior. Mosaics over the altar and throughout the church depict Biblical themes, the history of Catholicism in Maryland, and the history of the Jenkins family, which has roots in Maryland dating to the 1600s.

Fr. Marty
Father Martin Demek, pastor of Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

Father Marty Demek presides over the congregation. A native Baltimorean, Fr. Marty was educated at St. Paul Latin School, St. Charles College in Catonsville, and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He came to Corpus Christi in 2010 after serving at various parishes in the Baltimore area and in Manchester, MD.

Parishioners note the church’s warm, welcoming atmosphere. “You have basilica-level beauty in a small parish with a tight-knit yet welcoming, vibrant community,” says Sarah Bujno. “It’s a different experience than I’ve had with other churches.”

During the service, this spirit of welcome is evident during the passing of the peace. Rather than just greet their immediate neighbors with a simple handshake and a “peace be with you,” parishioners leave their pews and move throughout the nave, greeting old friends and new ones alike with kiss on the cheek or an embrace. “It’s an active community event,” said Bujno.

Corpus Christi also ensures equal representation of men and women at the altar during service, scheduling three female Eucharistic Ministers for each Sunday Mass to balance a male Eucharistic Minister, Fr. Marty, and his attending Deacon.

The church organizes a variety of opportunities for spiritual growth for children, teens, and adults. Children under five get their own “Liturgy of the Word,” which takes place during the 10:30 am Sunday mass, while kids between kindergarten through tenth grade receive Faith Formation on Sunday mornings before Mass and in preparation for sacramental rites of passage such as first communion and confirmation.

Adult parishioners may join a variety of committees that support the activities of the Church. Corpus Christi also sponsors marriage preparation classes (open to anyone planning to wed in a Catholic church), Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for those interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, and Gays and Lesbians at Corpus Christi (GALA). The Social Justice and Community Service Committee also organizes social justice coffee houses with speakers on current issues and the church’s annual day of service.

The church’s spirit of community reaches well beyond church walls. With financial support from Ellicott City’s Church of the Resurrection, Corpus Christi’s long-running food program, directed by Beth Steinrock, served over 2,000 lunches last year from the rectory door. They also collect food donations from area schools, Whole Foods, parishioners, and neighbors, and partners with St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Reservoir Hill to distribute bags of groceries to those in need. Last year they distributed over 1,000 bags. They also participate in Tri-Church events such as the Lenten Education Series and Palm Sunday procession, and support MICA and UB’s Catholic student population.

Parishioner Denise Duval, who serves with the grocery bag program and also co-chairs the Social Justice and Community Service Committee, said she is “constantly amazed by the deep generosity and love of the Corpus Christi community.”

Mass is held on Saturdays at 4 pm and Sundays at 10:30 am; reconciliation on Saturdays at 3:30 pm or by appointment. To contact the church, call (410) 523-4161 or email mdemek@archbalt.org. If interested in volunteering, contact beth.steinrock@archbalt.org.

Helfenbein Elected to Board of No Boundaries Coalition

Rob Helfenbein
Newly elected NBC board member Rob Helfenbein.

At their most recent meeting, Bolton Hill neighbor Rob Helfenbein was elected to the board of No Boundaries Coalition. Several other Bolton Hill residents, including Rob, received Volunteer Awards for their work with the organization.

Of his award, Rob said, “I am humbled to be among a group of community folks who give much more of their time than me.” As a board member, he hopes to further their work on eliminating food deserts, ensuring the enforcing the Department of Justice consent decree with the Baltimore Police Department to reduce police brutality against citizens, and increasing voter registration in advance of the 2018 and 2020 elections.

He said he especially hopes to contribute to their youth initiatives and “bring conversations about Baltimore City Schools into the mix.” And of course, he hopes to continue working to break down the boundaries between neighborhoods like Sandtown/Upton and Bolton Hill.

“I could not be more impressed with this organization,” Helfenbein said. “No Boundaries Coalition is one of the most organized and well-run community organizations I’ve ever seen and their impact is only growing in the city.”

Jayne Chartrand's meeting notes
Notes from a recent NBC meeting taken by MICA grad Jayne Chartrand.

Michael Booth and Peter Van Buren also received awards, along with residents from neighborhoods throughout the 21217 zip code served by No Boundaries Coalition, for their work for the organization.

In recent weeks, NBC sponsored a Community Forum in partnership with Coppin State’s Criminal Justice and Urban Studies Departments on Thursday, July 6 and facilitated by NBC’s co-director, Ray Kelly, to get community feedback on the DOJ consent decree.

Kelly also was one of 100 community leaders invited to participate in the 6th annual conference of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice in Oakland, CA in June, where he shared NBC’s efforts to transform the Criminal Justice system through education, advocacy and legislation. 

NBC also was asked by the National Organization of Retired State Troopers (NORST) and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) to participate in a precedent-setting panel discussion on June 29 on the responsibility of black police officers to their community.

NBC also recently celebrated the graduation of two founding youth members of the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP). One has received a full scholarship to MICA, and the other will be attending Howard University. BYOP was pivotal in pressuring the Mayor into restoring after-school and community-school funding. BYOP was first to the name the 25% cut to in the Mayors preliminary budget and helped organize over 600 youth and concerned residents from across the city to attend a City Council meeting on June 7th.

As part of their work on eliminating food deserts, No Boundaries Coalition is happy to announce the reopening of Fresh at the Avenue (1700 Pennsylvania Avenue) on July 22, with a Grand Reopening Celebration slated for Saturday, July 29.

Please support this fresh food market in West Baltimore! And please contact the No Boundaries Coalition or attend a meeting to help be part of the solution to the myriad problems facing the city. With effective organizing, says Rob Helfenbein, No Boundaries Coalition is helping to create “an amazing, positive community.“ 

Prepare for Fall Tree Planting

Three dead and dying trees on Mt. Royal at North Ave. (wall of Bolton North) are on the list for replacement despite having been planted only recently.

Ever wonder why Bolton Hill’s streets have more trees than most neighborhoods in Baltimore? It takes a lot of work—much of it done on a volunteer basis. To maintain our neighborhood’s current tree canopy, roughly 50 trees need to be planted each year.

George Lavdas has been planting and caring for trees in Bolton Hill for the past 25 years. Of late, he’s been joined by David Nyweide and other Bolton Hill residents.

These good folks are currently compiling a neighborhood tree census—something they do twice yearly— to identify locations with dead or dying trees, stumps that need to be ground out, and empty tree wells primed for planting.

David and George report the trees or stumps to be removed to the City so that the sites are ready in time for tree planting in spring and fall. Working with Caleb DeMario of the Midtown Community Benefits District, George and David order trees from the City and arrange planting dates with the Midtown greening crew.

The following 32 sites have been identified for preparation for new tree plantings this fall because they have empty tree wells, stumps that need to be removed, dead saplings, or dead or dying trees:

  • Maple Leaf Park, island between parking strips off Bolton and Robert
  • 2004 Eutaw (on either side of the address awning)
  • 2002 Eutaw
  • 2000 Eutaw at corner with Presstman and on Presstman
  • 1308 Eutaw
  • 1301 Eutaw, in median strip
  • 1300 Eutaw, by bus stop on south side of Lanvale
  • 1627 Park, in median strip
  • 1703 Park, in median strip
  • 1111 Park (at the end of Dolphin)
  • 1805 Bolton
  • 1824 Bolton
  • 1415 John
  • 206 Laurens
  • Mt. Royal, next to wall surrounding Bolton North parking lot (2 trees)
  • 301 McMechen
  • 300 block of McMechen in the median strips across from Save-A-Lot (3 stumps)
  • 300 block of McMechen, south side of the street
  • 122 W. Lafayette
  • 123 W. Lafayette
  • 100 block of W. Lafayette, along Corpus Christi Church
  • 123 W. Lanvale
  • 229 W. Lanvale
  • 120 W. Lanvale
  • 134 W. Lanvale
  • 103 W. Lanvale (near intersection with W. Mt. Royal, along granite wall)

Is there an empty tree well or dead tree or tree trunk in front of your house? Contribute to the census by sending an email to both David Nyweide (dnyweide@yahoo.com) and George Lavdas (lavdasgeorge01@gmail.com).

Volunteers are needed to help plant new and prune existing trees. The fall planting date will be announced in the Bulletin calendar—keep an eye out for it!

If you’re interested in becoming more involved with keeping the neighborhood canopy thick and healthy by planting and pruning trees, please contact George or David. George can also help answer any questions about what City Forestry can (or cannot do) and can put you in contact with private tree professionals, who (for a fee) can work with you to do the fertilizing and maintenance pruning of trees around your home.

SATF and NBC Updates: Parties, Cleanups, and Reopening of Fresh at the Avenue

Stoop Party for the Schools

Although May’s Stoop Party with a Purpose organized by MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) was cancelled due to weather, donations continued to be collected for three neighborhood schools. A total of $732 was donated by many generous neighbors and will be distributed to our neighborhood schools, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle, and Midtown Academy.

Along with a check for $244, each school received 5 reams of copier paper. Ms. Elliot at Eutaw-Marshburn summed up the sentiment for all the schools saying, “The SATF is the best!”

This dumpster was empty before the start of the June 3rd Cleanup

My Block My Hood Cleanups

As always, No Boundary Coalition‘s (NBC) 10th annual Boundary Block Party on June 3 was a huge success. Before the party started, NBC’s safety committee kicked off the summer’s My Block My Hood program by partnering with the Nehemiah Homeowners to clean up the 1300 block of N. Stockton St. at Presstman St.

Members of the SATF joined the work crew, and together they rapidly filled a large dumpster with debris, satisfying everyone with the results.

More My Block My Hood cleanups are planned for Saturday, July 22 at Parrish & Riggs Sts., Saturday, August 5 at Druid Hill Ave., and Tuesday, August 8 at Legends Park, located at Laurens and Fremont. All volunteers are welcome. Tools, work gloves, and refreshments are provided.

The SATF plans to join the August 5 cleanup as a group, while the August 8 event will be a focus for Memorial Episcopal Church, as the site is close to a store run by some of their members.

Please consider joining in this effort. Many hands make light work.

Fresh staff and volunteers

Grand Reopening for Fresh at the Avenue

For the past few months, Fresh at The Avenue in the Pennsylvania Ave. marketplace has been closed for renovations, which include new display tables and much more.

NBC announced that the stall will have a soft reopening on Saturday, July 22 with the grand reopening celebration set for Saturday, July 29. The celebration will spill outdoors into the parking lot surrounding the market, with a jazz band, food vendors and more.

The store is open every Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, and volunteers are always needed. If interested, contact Rebecca Nagle at freshatnoboundaries@gmail.com.

Meet Judith: Volunteering Is Always in Fashion

Judith McFadden
Judith McFadden, Clothes Closet volunteer manager at Samaritan Community.

For Judith McFadden, Samaritan Community’s Clothes Closet volunteer manager, helping members find new clothes is about much more than a new dress or shirt. It’s about how those clothes can affect a person and how they feel. There’s a sense of pride that comes with new clothes, and this pride is often missing in many of our members’ lives. 

“I love it when we put a nice jacket on a man, one that fits and is of good quality,” says Judith. “His shoulders straighten his posture improves. Sometimes, women come back and show us their how they look in their new outfits. A new look works wonders in how we feel about ourselves.”

But Judith does even more than help a member find clothes. She often becomes source of support for people experiencing a wide range of emotions, from great excitement to worry to despair.  

“Perhaps they need clothes for a job interview or to wear to church. But we also see people who have lost or gained weight because of illness or medication, and need clothing to fit their new body,” she says. “One young mother, unemployed due to a major health crisis and suddenly widowed, was able to find school outfits for her two boys. And something pretty for herself.”

In addition to Judith, other members of Samaritan Community come in to help organize the clothes and household items available at the Shop, and to help on the “sales floor.” And that’s what makes the Shop special for Judith—and for so many others: the sense of community that resides there.

“All of us, helpers and shoppers, really feel like a community—a real community—as we hear stories and share good news,” she says. “We offer encouragement and give hugs, as needed.”

While her professional background includes public affairs, community relations, and teaching, Judith has always volunteered. “It is part of who I am,” she says.

“Whenever anybody asks, I tell them I have the best volunteer job! I make people look good and feel good about how they look,” she says. “What a blessing.”

For more information about Samaritan Community, visit their website.

Volunteer Needed for Corpus Christi Lunch Program

Corpus Christi Lunch Program
Corpus Christi Lunch Program

Corpus Christi seeks a volunteer to assist with their lunch program. The work involves serving lunch on Mondays twice a month, and it’s both simple and very rewarding.

If you’re interested in joining a great group of volunteers to help those in need, or have any questions about the program, please contact Beth Steinrock at 410-615-7771 or beth.steinrock@archbalt.org.

MRIA Safety Committee Meeting

MRIA’s Safety Committee meets regularly on the last Thursday of each month at 7 pm. Meeting locations change, but recently they have been at Prince Hall Grand Lodge, 1307 Eutaw Place. Confirm with organizers if interested.

For more information, email organizers Barbie Klik, barbie.Klik [at] gmail.com or Richard Dunfee, dunfeer [at] verizon.net

Two Years After Baltimore Uprising, BYOP Cultivates New Leaders

BYOP on Pugh
BYOP member Diamon demanding accountability from Mayor Catherine Pugh. Photo courtesy of @UNBOUND_RCK.

By David Nyweide

Freddie Gray died two years ago, sparking demonstrations that came to be known as the Baltimore Uprising. What’s happened since?

Here’s just one example of positive change.

The Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) was established in October 2015, born of a desire to empower youth in West Baltimore in the wake of the Baltimore Uprising. Through their involvement in BYOP, youth have learned the principles and techniques of community organizing, conducted a listening campaign to hear about issues important to their peers, ratified a youth city agenda, and organized forums with political candidates and elected officials.

BYOP is a collaboration between Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) and the No Boundaries Coalition (NBC). Reverend Tim Hughes Williams at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church helped launch BYOP, and the church provided starter funding for modest stipends for eight youths who attended regular meetings and met with more than 400 young people in the community. Rev. Hughes Williams continues to work with BYOP members along with Rebecca Nagle of NBC and Gwen Brown of BUILD. He’s also looking for opportunities for youth affiliated with Brown Memorial to become involved.

“It has been inspiring to work with young people who have an intuitive, firsthand understanding of how the city needs to change to meet the needs of its youth,” said Rev. Hughes Williams. “BYOP has been a vehicle to teach them to tell their stories powerfully and hold elected officials accountable for their decisions. After the Baltimore Uprising, this has felt like essential and satisfying work.”

The BYOP youth agenda was ratified at a meeting of almost 100 youth in January 2016. It advocates for funding from the city and public-private partnerships that would support after-school programming, recreation centers, and youth employment—all of which help keep youth off the streets and develop their potential to contribute to the life of the city.

In March 2016, BUILD hosted an Accountability Forum at Coppin State University to hear the mayoral candidates’ positions on the BUILD One Baltimore Agenda: a city for youth, a city for jobs, a city that is safe. BYOP was able to present its youth agenda as part of this event. Approximately 200 youth sat on stage with six of the mayoral candidates, and 600 adults sat in the audience. Every candidate, including our current mayor Catherine Pugh, committed to the BUILD One Baltimore Agenda.

At the end of 2016, BYOP graduated its first class of eight young people. Now headed by Samirah Franklin—a member of that first class—BYOP is one part of NBC’s work in Central West Baltimore.

In its second year of organizing, BYOP has focused on holding Mayor Pugh accountable to her promises as a candidate. On April 4, 2017, Trinity Baptist Church (at McMechen and McCulloh) hosted about 150 adults and youth to hear the BYOP youth publicly ask Mayor Pugh for two specific commitments:

  1. Create 250 year-round youth jobs within the city and the corporate community in her first year in office; and
  2. Maintain current levels of funding for afterschool and community school programs in the 2018 budget.

The mayor agreed to help create 250 new year-round jobs for youth, but equivocated about after-school funding. In fact, her preliminary 2018 city budget cut afterschool and community school funding by 25 percent, or roughly $2.4 million.

BYOP is now fighting to restore the funding, with the help of BUILD, NBC, and the Child First Authority. They are calling on both the Mayor and City Council to acknowledge the cut and restore the funds.

“In the aftermath of our city burning, Baltimore’s elected officials made a promise to us, the youth of the city,” explained BYOP’s Lead Youth Organizer Franklin. “It’s only been two years, and we are cut. We call on the Mayor and City Council to keep their promise to us and restore afterschool and community school funding to its current level of $9.2 million.” 

BYOP also plans to continue listening to residents and providing youth workshops on community organizing. These activities help develop the voice and power of more and more youth to hold their elected officials accountable and effect the changes they desire in their communities.

To find out how you can support the young people of BYOP and their efforts to build power for Baltimore City youth, contact Samirah Franklin at samirahfranklin@gmail.com

Boltonstock 2017 on June 3

Save the date of Saturday, June 3 for the best party day of the summer. It’ll start midday with the Boundary Block Party at Upton Triangle from 11 am to 4 pm. Then come on over to Sumpter Park for the after-party, Boltonstock 2017, from 5 to 10 pm. This annual summer festival celebrates its third year, thanks to organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt.

 Photos of Boltonstock 2016 courtesy of Kellie Wellborn

 

Lots of volunteers are needed for jobs like serving beer and wine, grilling and preparing food, selling drink and food tickets, and cleanup. Email organizer Chas Phillips at chas.phillips [at] gmail.com if you can help out.

The musical lineup has expanded this year, including street musician Merdalf to open the evening, followed by Baltimore blues band The Cleanse, and DJ Uncle Quincy.

They’ll be plenty of kids’ activities available, along with grilled food, baked goods, and a nice selection of wine and craft beers for purchase. Look for plenty of involvement from local non-profit organizations, whose tables will surround the park.

The organizers seek sponsors to support Boltonstock 2017. Sponsorship starts at $100, and can be purchased by businesses, organizations or individuals. If you or someone you know is interested in being a sponsor, please contact Chas Phillips at chas.phillips [at] gmail.com.

Please help make Boltonstock a success. Save the date, spread the word, and bring lots of friends. Let’s see the whole neighborhood come out for what should be a fine evening of entertainment.

Don’t forget to follow the event on Facebook.

Eat a Chili Dinner to Send Kids to Camp This Summer

The MRIA Churches and Schools Committee will host its second annual Chili Dinner on Wednesday, April 19, 5-8 p.m. at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of Park Avenue and Lafayette. 

Come and enjoy delicious homemade chili (meat and vegetarian available), cornbread, a bake sale and raffle.  

Tickets are only $10 per person, but you are always welcome to give more. Children 12 and under are admitted free.  

This fundraiser supports Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School’s weeklong outdoor educational program that every spring sends all sixth grade students to Northbay Adventure Camp, an environmental science and character education program in Cecil County. Last year’s event generated over $3,500 for the trip. The goal this year is $5,000.

With this year’s school budget crisis, such efforts are particularly needed. Join the tasty fun and lend your support.

Parties and More Parties

Patricia Rice reading to the group

MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) hosted their fifth Party with a Purpose in February. The theme honored Black History Month with guests reading selections from their favorite black authors. The group then guessed, sometimes successfully, who the author was. 

The crowd of 60-70 attendees was deeply engaged with dozens of people taking the stage to read a quote. And they were generous too, donating a total of $1,065 that was split between two youth organizations, St. Francis Neighborhood Center and the Kids Safe Zone.

The event’s discussion area on Facebook has lots of photos, a cool little movie, and the text from many of the pieces that were read.

The SATF has already started planning two more events. First, the return of the Stoop Party with a Purpose set for Saturday, May 13, 11 am to 1 pm, at the Gazebo in the 1700 block of Linden Avenue (between Sav-a-Lot and Sumpter Park). In response to the city’s school budget crisis, the donations collected at this party will be shared between three neighborhood schools, Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle, and Midtown Academy.

At the end of the party, the group will continue the fun by walking together to join the Boundary Block Party at Upton Triangle. This was a huge success at last year’s Stoop Party and will be a great chance for the whole community to enjoy a spring day together.

Boltonstock 2017 arrives a short three weeks later, on Saturday, June 3 from 5 to 10 pm in Sumpter Park. The SATF is working with organizers Chas Phillips and Jessica Wyatt to make this year’s event bigger and better. Starting earlier and ending later, they plan a real festival with a variety of musical acts.

Volunteers are need to help with both of these events. If you’d like to get involved, come to the next SATF monthly meeting on Sunday, April 2, 5-6:30 pm at the carriage house of 1500 Bolton St. See the calendar item for details.

If you can’t make the meeting, but are interested in these SATF events, please contact Peter Van Buren about the Stoop Party, ptvnbr@gmail.com or Chas Phillips regarding Boltonstock,  chas.phillips@gmail.com.

Join the MRIA Board

The Mt. Royal Improvement Association seeks new members for its Board each year. The Nominating Committee, chaired by Past President Steve Howard, is seeking interested neighbors who are interested in joining the Board.

If you or someone you know would be interested, please email Steve at stevehoward.howard@gmail.com.

DEADLINE for submissions is March 15, so write to Steve today.

The next MRIA Board Meeting will be Tuesday, March 7 with socializing at 7:30 and the formal meeting at 8 pm. Open to all.

St. Francis Neighborhood Center Embarks on Major Capital Campaign

By Morganne Ruhnke, Development and Event Coordinator at St. Francis Neighborhood Center

Did you know that more than 1,200 children in the Reservoir Hill area live in poverty? St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC) is responding to this need with educational and enrichment programs to uplift children and their families—making more than 40,000 individual contacts with Reservoir Hill residents every year.

Reservoir Hill kids on honor roll
Smiles of Success

 

SFNC is a community-based, non-profit organization committed to ending generational poverty through education, inspiring self-esteem, self-improvement, and strengthening connections to the community. It was founded in 1963 as an outreach center for two local churches, and is the oldest enrichment center of its kind in Baltimore City. SFNC founder Father Tom Composto was a Jesuit priest who moved into the facility in the 1960s. He stayed there for the remainder of his life, devoting himself to the poor.  

Father Tom, also known as the Pope of Whitelock Street, would stand at the corner of Whitelock and Linden and challenge drug dealers to do something better with their lives. After he passed away in 2010, SFNC Board and staff have carried on his passion and vision, with programs and projects that serve the community that Father Tom so dearly loved.

The Center offers a computer lab and a community library that is free of charge to the neighborhood. They offer adult literacy and job readiness programs. They hold community yoga sessions on Wednesday evenings, and Narcotics Anonymous meets there three evenings a week. Every Monday, friends from Corpus Christi Church distribute free groceries to anyone who lives in the 21217 area. Many other partner groups use the Center for their meetings and also provide services that benefit the community.

SFNC’s award-winning flagship programs for youth have received national recognition. The Power Project is a free after-school program, with fifty “prodigies”—youth—currently enrolled. The Summer of Service Excursion (SOSE) is held for eight weeks from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm during the summer months and is the longest running summer program in the City. SOSE participants focus on topics including education, art, STEM, and character building.

Ethan's poem
Poem describing the “St. Francis Way.”

Every summer, the Center coordinates with its many longstanding partners to host the day-long Reservoir Hill Resource Fair & Festival at the corner of Whitelock and Linden. The festival brings together this vibrant, diverse community and features a grocery and bookbag giveaway, food trucks, local art, and live music. Save the date for Saturday, August 5, 2017—and if you are interested in getting involved as a vendor, volunteer, or supporter, contact Morganne Ruhnke at mruhnke@stfranciscenter.org.

St. Francis Neighborhood Center
Consider donating so that even more children can join the fun

The Center is currently embarking on a major capital campaign, “Count on Me.” This community-driven campaign addresses the pressing need to serve more children. More than 30 kids are already on the waiting list for the youth programs, and with the merger of Westside Elementary and John Eager Howard School, the number of children in need will soon triple. We want them all to have a positive place to attend educational and enrichment activities after school and are excited about our plans for growth. To learn more, contact Angela Wheeler at awheeler@stfranciscenter.org.

SFNC occupies a historic, four-story townhouse, and while we love our location, we are limited in our ability to serve more children and to provide programming to fulfill ever-evolving community needs. Our total goal is to raise $4 million in two years to add classrooms, an art studio, a kitchen/cafe, greening projects, multipurpose space, and expand our media lab and library. Once complete, we expect to serve more than 200 children in our education programs, an 100% increase in capacity.

We invite you to be a part of this transformational change. Can we count on you to join us in achieving this milestone for Reservoir Hill and West Baltimore?

How you can you help:

  • Donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated and help us get one step closer to serve more of the community.  To donate and learn more about the center check out our website at www.stfranciscenter.org.
  • We are always looking for people to host fundraisers, serve as mentors and tutors, and help us with special events and daily operations.  To get involved, please contact us at volunteer@stfranciscenter.org.

Find out more on the St. Francis Neighborhood Center website.

Mt. Royal Middle School Students Headed to Europe

The beauty of Dublin

By Stacy Wells, Mt. Royal parent and PTO President

Trip to Europe

Help fund the travel experience of a lifetime for 23 middle school students as they journey to Dublin, London and Paris this summer on a European Study Tour.

Organized and led by social studies teacher Joseph Francella from June 26–July 5, each trip will cost $3,770 per student. A scholarship fund has been created, with a goal of $12,000 to provide assistance to students who need it.

Travelers can still be enrolled through March 7, and neighborhood families are welcome to join.

You can learn more about this program and help students get one step closer to Europe with a donation to the scholarship fund by visiting the scholarship fund website.

Thanks to Our Community Partner, Park Café and Coffee Bar

On the first Friday of every month, the Park Café & Coffee Bar sponsors our Golden Eagle Award Breakfast. At the breakfast, awards are given to students who show effort, achievement, generosity, leadership, excellence and safety.

Winners are invited to attend a breakfast at school with members of their family to celebrate their accomplishments. We are very lucky to have the support from this wonderful business located right in our own neighborhood.

Stay Informed

Mt. Royal is proud of our school and loves to share news with the community.

We’ve updated the school website and created a Monthly Newsletter (here’s February’s) highlighting student accomplishments and new initiatives at the school. Announcements and updates are also posted online here. Follow us!

Planning Begins for Boltonstock ’17

Planning has started for Boltonstock ’17, and the date has been set: the evening of Saturday, June 3 in Arnold Sumpter Park at Jordan and Laurens Streets.

Boltonstock is the latest incarnation of the Bolton Hill Band Concert, and will again feature delicious food and drink, community engagement, and an all-new lineup of local live music.

Boltonstock '16
Boltonstock ’16 was a BLAST.

With planning in the early stages, why not be part of the process? Planning and logistics meetings will be scheduled in April and May.

The organizers need volunteers to cook, sell food and drink, publicize the event, set up on the day of the festival and clean up afterward. 

If you’d like to lend a hand, email Chas at chas.phillips@gmail.com. You can also support the event by becoming an event sponsor. Sponsorships start at $100 and can be purchased by businesses, organizations or individuals. Contact Chas for details.

Most of all, save the date of June 3 for BoltonStock ’17, and kick off the summer with an evening full of fun with neighbors and friends!

Help Trees Help Us

This tree says, “Help! Get me out of this tiny tree pit!”

by Sarah Lord, Baltimore City Forestry Board

Spring is the season to rededicate ourselves to one of Bolton Hill’s best features: our trees.

Our city is underpopulated by trees. Although the City is working hard to reverse these numbers, only 27% of our city is under the tree canopy, well below the desirable goal of 40%.

Our neighborhood is better off than most, but let’s not rest on our laurels (no pun intended).

Get involved with annual neighborhood tree events by joining neighbors for Tree Pruning on Saturday, March 18 and Tree Planting on Saturday, April 15.

If you’re a do-it-yourself type, you can adopt a tree pit to help our neighborhood trees thrive.

Studies have shown that tree pits should be 4′ x 8’ or larger, allowing trees to grow to maturity and cool not just pavement, but rooftops where possible. Many of our older tree pits are much smaller, resulting in cramped, less healthy trees. If your tree pit is too small, hire a contractor to make yours longer and wider if necessary. 

The ideal tree pit has no fencing around it, not even bricks, so that rainwater runoff can flow into the tree wells rather than bypassing them. The soil or mulch in these pits should be just below the pavement grade. When properly graded, you can watch with delight when rainwater flows into the pits to be soaked up by tree roots, nourishing the tree while diminishing storm water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay.

Or, plant a new shade tree, being sure to leave the trunk flare at its base above the soil line. It’s not a flagpole, so don’t plant it too deep and kill it. Never heap soil or mulch against the tree trunk, and remember to keep the soil level a tad lower than the surrounding sidewalk.

Most of all, help our street trees by watering all the tree pits your hose can reach once the hot dry days of summer are upon us. Do it about once a week, if we have not had a good rain. If conditions have been dry, watering in the fall can be critical to a tree’s survival over winter.

Need advice on how properly to plant, trim, or care for trees? Contact Bolton Hill tree expert Sarah Lord at fennofarm@mac.com or check out fun, free TreeKeepers classes.

SATF Potluck with a Purpose and Plans for 2017

On Sunday, December 11, MRIA’s Social Action Task Force (SATF) organized a Potluck Party with a Purpose. In the aftermath of this year’s divisive elections, the SATF thought more neighbors might want to get involved in their community-building efforts.

Over 30 attended the meeting with dishes in hand. SATF reviewed the group’s accomplishments and looked forward to projects planned for 2017.

SATF Potluck, December 2016
People attending the SATF Potluck in December review the group’s accomplishments in 2016.

SATF members explained the group’s establishment by MRIA in the wake of the unrest in spring 2015. Following those events, neighbors wanted to find ways that residents could make a positive impact in the 21217 community.

At that time, they developed the following mission statement: “To encourage, facilitate, and initiate personal engagement between the Bolton Hill neighborhood and the surrounding 21217 community. By highlighting the many great organizations serving our community, we hope that our collective efforts will create a more healthy, vibrant, just, and safe community for everyone.”

The group decided to focus their efforts on supporting existing organizations in the neighborhood, rather than setting their own agenda. They chose three methods for supporting these organizations:

  1. Organizing Parties with a Purpose
  2. Creating and promoting a Community Asset List to facilitate and encourage more neighborhood involvement
  3. Organizing neighborhood efforts to actively support organizations  

Thus far, the SATF has organized five Parties with a Purpose, as well as a book drive for Reading Partners and a Stoop Party group walk to the No Boundaries Block Party last June. They also published the Community Asset List on the Bolton Hill Bulletin website and published a Holiday Volunteer Guide to encourage neighbors to volunteer for local organizations during the holidays.

SATF events have collected approximately $2,000 in donations and have funneled volunteers and other support to twelve non-profit organizations serving the 21217 area. This Powerpoint slideshow provides an overview of the SATF’s impact thus far.

Potluck attendees went on to discuss plans for 2017, coming up with many creative suggestions. The SATF collected these Potluck Wall Responses to a series of questions that were posted around the meeting room.

The SATF encourages everyone to get involved by attending one of their monthly meetings or their next Party with a Purpose. If you’d rather donate money or have volunteer time, review the Community Asset List and Holiday Volunteer Guide for ideas.

The next SATF meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 8, 5 pm at 1309 Bolton St. (Kellie’s & Rob’s house.) On the agenda: planning the next Party with a Purpose, slated for sometime this winter.

Bake Sale Raises Money for Mt. Royal Elementary

In October, neighbors Powell Perng and Stacy Wells met with Principal Grotsky at Mt. Royal Elementary to discuss fundraising goals.

From that meeting, Stacy saw an opportunity to raise additional funds by selling baked goods at the Bolton Hill Garden Club Greens Sale at Brown Memorial Church. The proceeds from the bake sale would go towards funding a 6th-grade student for the annual NorthBay Adventure Camp trip in May 2017.

The camp is a week-long overnight camp where students learn about leadership, environmental stewardship, and teamwork.

MRIA’s Churches and Schools Committee offered to donate baked goods, and, led by famed holiday bakers Marjorie Forster and Barbara Francis, they supplied a sleigh-full of treats for the sale.  In all, $267 was raised by the sale, enough to subsidize 1 or 2 summer camp attendees.

Thanks, Stacy and Powell, for your organizational efforts!

New Spaces Create Opportunities at Samaritan Community

As busy as she is, Sharon Krieger, Program Director at Samaritan Community, is always thinking about the future. For many years, she has dreamed of expanding the organization’s clothing “shop” and creating a workroom where members can gather, work, and connect.

This past September, she was able to realize both of these visions.

Funded partly through a grant from the Middendorf Foundation, these projects were completed simultaneously. The work commenced this past summer, building custom closets, replacing old flooring, purchasing computers, moving furniture, and setting up internet access.

The new Samaritan Community workroom is now available for members to make phone calls, search online for jobs, complete paperwork for social services, register for school and job training programs, and more.

At the same time, Samaritan Community expanded the clothing shop. It now comfortably provides access to all the clothing and household items available to members and their families.

“Both rooms are safe spaces, warm and welcoming. They also hold important functionality for our members,” says Sharon. “They can tend to personal business, explore new opportunities, and get critical necessities more easily. Plus, these new spaces provide a place for members to talk, help, and support one another. I’m confident they will make our already tight community even closer.”

As is true for most everything at Samaritan Community, the importance of community is behind these renovations. For more information on Samaritan Community, visit their website or call its development office at 443-438-9286.

News from Corpus Christi: Seniors Group & Souper Bowl

The Corpus Christi Seniors Group holds meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 10:30 am in the rectory (110 W. Lafayette). The group attends daily mass at 12:10 pm after the meeting.

This member-led group includes worship, Bible study, and creative activities. All are welcome. Coffee and tea are provided.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining, please contact Sarah Bujno for more information at sarah.bujno[at] archbalt.org or 410-523-4161.

The Souper Bowl is coming! 

Faith Formation students at Corpus Christi will be collecting cash donations and cans of soup Saturday, February 4, after the 4 pm service and Sunday, February 5, after the 10:30 am service.  

Souper Bowl of Caring is a national movement of young people working to fight hunger and poverty in their own communities around the time of the Super Bowl football game. In 1990, the Souper Bowl of Caring began with a simple prayer from a single youth group:

“Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl
football game, help us be mindful of
those without a bowl of soup to eat.”

Since that day, more than $100 million have been raised for local charities across the country through Souper Bowl of Caring. This powerful movement is transforming Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving.  

Through this mission, students learn what it’s like to make a positive difference in the world as they collect food, raise money and volunteer to work in charities that provide shelter to the homeless, food to the hungry and compassion to those in need.  

All donations will help the lunch program at Corpus Christi. If you have any questions or would like to donate at another time that week, please contact Sarah Bujno at the email address or phone number above.