GHCC: Tell us a bit about yourself
Allissa Richardson: I am a journalism professor living here in Baltimore City. I teach at Morgan State University. I went to college at Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans. Then, I switched climates for graduate school and headed to Evanston, Illinois, to attend Northwestern University. Brrrr! In between, I have lived in San Jose, California, and Upstate New York. Maryland has been home always, though. I enjoy teaching young people at the University how to create media, and how to wield its power for good. Before the Ivory Tower though, I reported on Capitol Hill; got into medical school (then decided against it); and wrote health stories for O, The Oprah Magazine.
GHCC: Are you a Baltimore native?
AR: I like Baltimore because it is a great hub. I can jet down to D.C., or up to Philly or New York in a flash, which is important to me as a media professional. It is also important, in my life, to feel as if I am making a difference.
Driving through some neighborhoods in Baltimore sometimes feels eerily desolate; as if everyone just decided, by committee, to exit the city on the same day. But then, if you drive just around the corner, you will stumble upon some up-and-coming neighborhood that looks like it is on the verge of a Renaissance. You will hear nail guns going and cranes reversing with a steady, beep beep. It is at those times–when I see a fresh window recently installed in an abandoned building, for instance–that I realize Baltimore is alive. It really is teeming with possibility.
It is for this reason that I chose Barclay. My neighborhood is smack dab in the middle of the city, but five years ago, it did not feel like the heart of it. Entire blocks were abandoned. I had never seen anything like it in my life! But when I looked up at the great, big, old row houses, I saw possibility. I was 25, and I wanted a reasonably priced space, large enough for huge dogs, my fiancé and me. The neighbors all seemed friendly. The house was exactly eight minutes from my job (instead of the two-hour commute to Bethesda I had just ended). I feel in love with the city’s spirit of perseverance and its deep history. I wanted to roll up my sleeves and help it come back. And Barclay is doing just that. Its revival has been marvelous!
GHCC: When did you first discover Greater Homewood Community Corporation and what prompted you to become a supporter of our work?
AR: I found out about GHCC at a speed-dating style Board member recruitment event. My husband and I had just completed a four-week Board member training workshop with Associated Black Charities, here in the city. As a Capstone, ABC hosted a dinner where we went, rapid-fire from table to table, to hear about what each recruiting organization had to offer. I really liked the [GHCC] Executive Director’s enthusiasm. Karen Stokes seemed like a real firecracker who seemed to “get it.” I wanted to be a part of a cool team of community organizers who provided real results, and not just rhetoric. I joined the Board in December 2009. GHCC has proved, time and again, to be that kind of organization. It is mission-driven, results-driven, and steadfast in its support of Northeast Baltimore communities.
GHCC: Why do you believe that it’s important for individuals to support a nonprofit such as GHCC?
AR: GHCC cannot perform all of its wonderful works on air and love! Every great organization needs financial support and a sustained system of donors. GHCC has so many worthwhile initiatives! From local beautification projects to adult literacy initiatives to economic development campaigns, there is a bottom line that supports it all. I would even add that there is a double bottom line, since the return on the investments made in GHCC equates to better city living for everyone.
GHCC: What do you love most about living in Greater Homewood?
AR: I love my proximity to work and play. I do not fight traffic to my job in the morning–ever. After the day is done, I can take a jog around Lake Montebello for exercise. In my spare time, the weekend Waverly Farmer’s Market, the Charles Theatre, and the annual ArtScape Festival are all within walking distance. When I want to head out of town, the train station is three blocks from my house. The airport is about 20 minutes away. Aside from its propinquity to nearly everything, Baltimore has a reasonable cost of living for a young couple that is just starting out. My husband and I purchased our dream home before we even blew out the candles at our 25th birthdays. Baltimore has been good to us, and we hope to be just as good to it.