Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Sponsor Spotlight: Joe’s Bike Shop

JoesBikeShopOur blog team caught up with Joe Traill, owner of Joe’s Bike Shop, to hear a bit about what he loves about North Baltimore, and cycling in the city.

Tell us a bit about Joe’s Bike shop and the products and services your offer?

We are a typical neighborhood bike shop, with bicycles for the whole family and a full repair shop.

Why did you choose to sponsor Greater Homewood this spring?

I am very drawn to the Greater Homewood area. I go through this area when I ride between the Mt. Washington and Fells Point Shops, our two locations. When you see a neighborhood from a bicycle seat you get a superb feel for what is going on. This area has such tremendous potential, but may need a little help in certain areas. I would like to be a part of that.

What’s your favorite bike trail in North-Central Baltimore?

The Jones Falls Trail is my favorite. I think it does a fantastic job of connecting the city.

What do you like most about being located in North Baltimore?

There are so many positive aspects about our locations, but I would have to answer; the support we get from the city. There is a special sense of loyalty in Baltimore for local shops and businesses. You can really feel that people care about your continued success and welfare.

What do you like most about the cycling community?

Their dedication. It is truly inspiring to see the work the community does to make cycling better for everyone. To me, this makes the city just that much for livable for all of its residents.

Location, hours of operation, specializations 

Locations in Mt. Washington and Fells Point. Open Monday through Friday 10AM-8PM, Saturday 10AM-6PM, Sunday, 12PM-5PM.

Neighborhood Institute Sponsor Spotlight: Healthy Neighborhoods

HNBarbara Aylesworth is the Senior Programs Officer at Healthy Neighborhoods 

Tell us a bit about Healthy Neighborhoods, how long has the program been around and when did it come to Baltimore?

Healthy Neighborhoods has been operating in Baltimore since around 2000, although the original idea was established in Battle Creek, Michigan. The program started as a small initiative, and is now supporting 14 community based organizations working in over 40 Baltimore neighborhoods. We work in what we would describe as strong, but undervalued neighborhoods – places with solid assets where resident engagement and modest investment yield big results. We provide grants for neighborhood organizing and marketing and operate a 60 million loan fund for purchase and renovation of homes and home improvements.

What are “target blocks” and what communities in Greater Homewood is Healthy Neighborhoods working in?

We cover a lot of territory in Greater Homewood.  Waverly, Better-Waverly, Ednor Gardens-Lakeside, Oakenshawe, Abell, Harwood, Old Goucher, Remington, Barclay, and Charles Village. We target blocks based upon a building from strength strategy. We work first on the blocks with the best home values and active residents to create those marketable “postcard blocks” and build out from there. A list of the target blocks can be found on our website

How does Healthy Neighborhoods work in collaboration with GHCC?

GHCC is an excellent partner for the delivery of Healthy Neighborhood resources. IMG_0763GHCC has generated millions of dollars of Healthy Neighborhoods loans and matching grants.  Among their numerous  neighborhood projects are painted ladies and mosaic number plaques in Harwood, and improvements to the playground at Margaret Brent Elementary School.  Their marketing of neighborhoods and schools has really made a difference, too.

Why do you think it is important to support the Neighborhood Institute?

The Neighborhood Institute provides great information sharing and networking among community members looking for positive change. It brings in good speakers on big picture topics and also provides positive peer learning experiences.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer to someone looking to become a first time home owner?

Two pieces of advice: first, meet with a housing counselor to find out if you are ready to buy.  Second, choose a home based on your needs and desires, not just based on how many incentives you can patch together.

How can we get more information, and who should someone reach out to if they are interested in taking advantage of they are interested in participating in the program?

Visit the Healthy Neighborhoods website at ( Also, Andre Stone from GHCC is a great resource if you are located in the Greater Homewood area.

Sponsor Spotlight: Miss Shirley’s Cafe

miss shirley'sNoted for beautiful presentation, exceptional service, and award-winning dishes, Miss Shirley’s Café has grown into a Baltimore landmark sought out by both locals and visitors alike. 

Tell us about your company and the restaurants you operate?

Our company, Miss Shirley’s Management Company, owns and operates three Miss Shirley’s Café locations: in Roland Park, Inner Harbor and Annapolis. Miss Shirley’s Cafe offers our guests a unique award winning culinary experience for breakfast, brunch and lunch.  Our specialties are rooted in Southern fundamentals and the abundance of fresh ingredients from the Chesapeake Bay region.  We pride ourselves in beautifully presented plates, prompt and professional service, as well as clean, comfortable and well-maintained premises for our guests.

Established in 2005 by restaurateur and Baltimore native Eddie Dopkin, Miss Shirley’s Café was created as a tribute to an inspirational employee and personal friend, Miss Shirley McDowell. McDowell, a food professional at The Classic Catering People, was known for her sassy charm and sheer joy of preparing dishes for those she loved. Corporate Executive Chef Brigitte Bledsoe has crafted a bold menu that reflects both McDowell’s southern flare and Bledsoe’s love of fresh Maryland ingredients.

We will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary in May of 2015, and we couldn’t be more excited to share this occasion with our loyal guests, friends and colleagues.

You have been a Roland Park landmark for a long time, what do you love about being in that neighborhood?

We love the small town community feel that the Roland Park neighborhood exudes, while still being in Baltimore city. It is a warm welcoming, family friendly neighborhood, and that is exactly what Miss Shirley’s is all about. The Dopkin family has lived in or close by, and built businesses in the area for years.

We take pride in helping to beautify the neighborhood, by regularly planting flowers and hanging baskets along Cold Spring Lane, picking up trash off of the street and sidewalk, decorating the block for the holidays with pumpkins & hay stacks in the Fall, and holiday wreaths & decorations in the winter, as well as maintaining not only our premises but helping others to do the same.

What inspired you to sponsor this year’s neighborhood institute?

We are inspired to sponsor this year’s neighborhood institute, because we love our city and we value the importance of the GHCC’s mission to improve and strengthen Baltimore City neighborhoods. It is essential that we support each other in this effort; if our urban communities thrive so do the business districts.

As a business owner, how do you stay involved in the community?

Miss Shirley’s Café stays involved with the community in many ways!  We support dozens of local charities and foundations, including The Roland Park Community Foundation, Roland Park Baseball, Roland Park Library, Roland Park Fire Station, Church fundraisers, Gilman Bull Roast, Baltimore Child Abuse Center, FARE Allergy Walk & Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Loyola University, Maryland SPCA, American Cancer Society, American Heart Society, Maryland Library Association, Centerstage, Keswick Foundation, as well as many more!

In addition, we organized a clean up of Stony Run Park with our staff, we have five Sponsor A Highway signs in the area, and we plant the flowers along Cold Spring Lane year round.

What is your favorite thing to order for brunch?

That’s a hard question, since my favorite meal is brunch!  However my absolute favorite brunch item on Miss Shirley’s menu is the Crab Cake & Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict!  Two perfectly poached eggs, mini jumbo lump crab cakes on fried green tomatoes, roasted corn & grape tomato relish with asparagus & Old Bay hollandaise – It doesn’t get any better than that for a true Southern style Maryland brunch!

Miss Shirley

Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Sponsor Spotlight: The Villages of Homeland West

VHW LogoGHCC Blog team caught up with the Villages of Homeland West community Association President, Helene Breazeale, to learn a bit more about their “oasis” of a neighborhood. 

Can you tell us a bit more about The Villages at Homeland West and your community association?

The Villages at Homeland West, a condominium community in Baltimore City, Maryland, is comprised of 207 units spread over 30 garden – style buildings. Our development is 40 years old, including the period before becoming condominiums. The Council of Unit Owners is a group that meets once a month at meetings of the Board of Directors to discuss pertinent resident issues, safety, management, utilities, etc.

What do you love about living in this community?

In my mind, The Villages at Homeland West is the best kept secret in the area.  Our property has everything someone could need. Some of the features that leap out are the beautiful landscaping, the spacious units and the convenient nearby attractions.

Why is it important to the community association to support Greater Homewood and the work we do?

We appreciate the work GHCC does in the community, and strive to add our support in every way possible. Perhaps what’s most important about this work is the continued development of Baltimore neighborhoods and increased information sharing among community members. When we come together we can accomplish great things!

Why do you choose to be involved in your neighborhood association, and why are neighborhood associations important?

It is important to be familiar with what is going on in the community. It can at times be a thankless job, but the people active in our condominium association keep the community safe and its residents alerted to any significant changes in the area.

What’s your favorite thing about your neighborhood?

My favorite thing is the accessibility and convenience of where it is located. I liken our neighborhood to a little oasis in the region. Our swimming pool, Clubhouse, exercise room, gardens, patios and balconies are but a few of the things that make our community an attractive place to live.  It is also a benefit that we belong to the North Baltimore Neighborhood Coalition. This is important because it allows us to stay connected to the other communities in North Baltimore by sharing resources and information.


Sponsor Spotlight: Davey Tree

daveyTell us a bit about your business and the services that you offer?

Davey Tree is a tree and lawn care service established in 1880, featuring locations nation-wide. Another unique feature of Davey Tree is that it is employee run. The bulk of our work consists of caring for trees and shrubs on residential and commercial properties. Among the services we provide are planting, fertilization, insect removal/treatment and tree removal.

Why is it important to you to support GHCC and the Neighborhood Institute?

GHCC and Davey Tree share a common mission. Both organizations work tirelessly to improve and beautify Baltimore neighborhoods, although in different ways.

What is your favorite thing about the work that you do?

The satisfaction. It is so beautiful to look up at the tree canopy and see the fruits of your labor. The life of an arborist is fun and physical. It keeps you in great shape!

What is one piece of advice you would give home owners about tree maintenance in their yards?

The most important piece of advice I can give is to make sure you plant the right tree in the correct location. It is all about the “best fit” when planting a tree. Home owners need to keep in consideration the mature height + width of a tree and confirm the tree will have access to the nutrients it needs (water, oxygen, sunlight, etc.).

What do you love about working in the Greater Homewood area?

The atmosphere and people are great! The Greater Homewood area also has the advantage of being a heavily forested area, with a wide variety of different trees. This makes it an enjoyable place to work.

How can home owners get in touch with you? What time of year should people be thinking about tree service?

We are active and available year round. The best way to get in touch with us is to email me at or call 410.946.1547.