Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

York Road Alternatives for Youth (YAY): A Peaceful Response for a Better Neighborhood

Since 2000, GHCC’s Youth Programs increased the availability of positive activities for Greater Homewood youth by building partnerships between schools, communities, and youth service providers to foster an integrated approach to meeting youth needs.  GHCC’s established repuation as an intermediary enables our program to serve as a networking resource to promote common solutions.  Our current range of programming works with local youth providers and institutional partners to facilitate cross-sector collaborations and coordinated efforts to maximize and expand the reach of programs for underserved youth. To learn more about our youth programs, click here.

Submitted by Rev. Heber Brown, III

As the Summer of 2009 prepared to make its entry, the Govans community in north Baltimore experienced a rash of violence that unsettled many of our residents and neighbors.  Govans isn’t regularly featured on the nightly news for incidents of crime, but last summer was a reminder that no community is immune to acts of violence.  

On May 31, 2009, Joseph Woah-Tee, long-time Baltimore resident and owner of the Gaimei Nangbn Multi-Purpose Neighborhood Center in the 4300 Block of York Road, was killed in a robbery attempt at his Center.

A little more than two weeks later and less than one mile away, a young man in his late teens was killed in what the Baltimore Sun describes as a raucous “street fight between several people.”  The young man was stabbed and died about an hour later at an area hospital.

A couple of shootings occurred on the Alameda and Old York Road in July 2009, and two months later on September 11, a drive-by shooting occurred at York Road and Radnor Avenue.  Eight gunshots sliced through the air of that night and when the smoke cleared, two bodies were laying on the ground in the front yard of Patrice Brown – my mother.  Bullet casings decorated the cement and bullet holes pierced the walls of the American Friends Service Committee Building across the street.

In response to these shootings, a coalition of community members from all walks life gathered themselves for Prayer and Peace Vigils.  People of Faith and Conscience – from local churches, organizations, and the surrounding community – gathered to ensure that violence would not get the last word in the communities along the York Road Corridor.  
They participated in public actions for peace on two occasions: once on Sunday, July 19, 2009, beginning at the intersection of York Road and Woodbourne, and again on Sunday, October 11, 2009, beginning at the American Friends Service Committee and continuing along Radnor Avenue.

Building on the momentum of two well-supported public actions, conversations ensued about what proactive steps could be taken to prevent violence.  A diverse coalition and subset of the larger group began to meet, eventually coming up with the idea to have churches make their buildings and resources available on a weekly rotational basis to youth recreation on Friday nights calling the initiative: Y.A.Y.! It’s Friday.

In January 2010, this effort began with Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and in subsequent weeks moved to Govans Presbyterian Church and St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church – all churches along York Road.  A few months later, Holy Comforter Lutheran Church signed on as a host site as well.  Youth from the churches and the community have come together not only to play board games, cards, and Nintendo Wii, but have also shared in a review of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, had an Open Mic Night to share their talents, and had a forum on education equality in Baltimore City.

The gracious donations of the participating churches, partner organizations, and supportive neighbors have given Y.A.Y.! It’s Friday a promising start.  

As Summer 2010 is rapidly approaching, Y.A.Y. is preparing to ramp up our efforts, recruit more host sites/partner organizations, and reach a broader segment of community youth.

If you are able to lend your support to this effort with space, donations, time, or in some other way, we would love to hear from you!  Please contact Gary Gillespie as (443) 847-8989.

It’s time to be counted in the 2010 Census! Ya es hora. ¡Hagase Contar!

The federal government distributes more than $400 billion annually to state, local, and tribal governments based on census data. When you fill out the Census form, you’re making a statement about what resources your community needs going forward. One of the shortest census forms in history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete. Completing your Census form is easy, important, and completely confidential. The law guarantees your privacy by prenting anyone from sharing your information.

Your participation is vital to creating a better future for Baltimore City! For every resident who fills out a form, the City receives approximately $20,000 per individual over the next 10 years.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is challening Baltimore City residents to participate by completing the form, and then contacting 10 other people and urging them to fill out their forms. Spread the word and help to make a difference in your community. Return your Census form in the mail on Census Day – April 1 – and be counted for Baltimore City! For more information, visit the 2010 Census website.

Cuestionario del Censo del 2010: fácil, importante y confidencial

El cuestionario del Censo del 2010 sólo tiene 10 preguntas y toma alrededor de 10 minutos completarlo. Se pregunta a los hogares informacion demográfica importante tales como: si la unidad de vivienda es alquilada o propia, la dirección de la residencia y los nombres, sexos, edades y razas de quienes viven en el hogar.

Por ley, la Oficnia del Censo no puede compartir las respuestas del cuestionario del Censo con nadie, ni siquiera con otras angecias federales y entidades policiales y del orden publico.

Un conteo completo: ¿Cuan importante es para su comunidad?

Cada año, el gobierno federal asigna más de $400 milliones de dólares a los estados y las comunidades, basado parcialmente en los datos del Censo.

– Los datos del Censo se utilizan para decidir dónde ubicar tiendas, escuelas, hospitales, nuevos proyectos de vivienda y otras facilidades comunitarias.

– Los datos del Censo determinan los distritos legislativos y congresionales, tanto como estatales.

Los hogares deben llenar y devolver sus cuestionarios en cuanto los reciban. Los hogares que no respondan podrían recibir un cuestionario de reemplazo a principios de abril.

Los empleados del Censo en su comunidad, visitarán los hogares que no devuelvan sus cuestionarios, para contarlos en persona.

¡Ábrale su puerta en confianza!

The Snow Continues to Fall on Baltimore!

If you live in Baltimore, chances are you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors this week.  GHCC offices have been closed all week due to the series of storms that have paralyzed the city.

Wondering what to do?  Here are a few helpful pieces of information for you as you weather the storm:

  • Stay inside!  Snow and heavy wind gusts have created blizzard conditions threatening to life and limb.
  • As of this afternoon the MTA has suspended all bus, MARC train, and light rail services.  Metro subway trains will be running between Mondawmin and Johns Hopkins stations only.  Transit has been operating on a very limited basis since the blizzard hit on Friday night, so check the MTA website for the most up-to-date news before heading out to the bus stop, even as conditions begin to improve.
  • Baltimore City has implemented Phase III of its snow emergency plan, meaning only authorized emergency vehicles are permitted on city roadways.
  • Baltimore City has established a Snow Page for residents to get important updates.  The storm has suspended city services such as trash and recycling collection, so make sure to check in for the latest news.
  • To keep informed about what’s happening minute-by-minute, try following some official Twitter feeds, like Mayor Rawlings-Blake or Baltimore City Police.
Most importantly, stay safe!  Today is not a day to venture outside, so make some hot chocolate, get out some movies or board games, and spend some quality time with your neighbors and family.
Baltimore rowhouses in the snow.

The Harlem Children’s Zone: Can it happen in Baltimore?

On January 21, at 6:30 p.m., the Greater Homewood Interfaith Alliance (GHIA) will host a truly dynamic event, featuring New York Times Magazine Editor-in-Chief Paul Tough. Tough, who authored the book “Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America”, will speak about the evolution of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which now serves as the foundation for the Obama Administration’s Promise Neighborhoods program.

Tomorrow’s meeting will be about assessing the potential of a similar initiative here in Baltimore. The reason Canada’s approach was so successful is because he incorporated the real needs of the community through grassroots efforts. With this in mind, the Interfaith Alliance, thanks largely in part to the support of community members Claudia Diamond from the Bolton Street Synagogue and Amy Meyers from the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, will spotlight the fantastic work currently being done in the city around youth development and education reform.

There is a lot of excitement surrounding tomorrow evening and we encourage you to take part in what’s sure to be a fabulous and dynamic discussion with your friends, neighbors, the community-at-large. The event is free and open to the public at the Bolton Sreet Synagogue at 212 Cold Spring Lane. Visit GHCC’s Facebook Event Page to RSVP or, for more information, contact Ari Witkin at 410-261-3516 or

Experience Corps’ new home in Remington

GHCC’s Experience Corps program volunteers may be on summer hiatus while schools are out, but the program staff is still hard at work. On Thursday, July 2nd, Experience Corps staff began moving into their new office at Miller’s Court, located at 2601 N. Howard Street, Suite 120.

The move was completed in shifts, through July 6th and all went well, thanks in large part to youth workers Neil Davis and Willie L. Hopkins. While the team is still adjusting to life off-site, and miss amenities such as the stamp machine, they love the new space. The building has an open court yard, which will soon include a fire pit, gym, and best of all, on-site training facilities!

Now that they are settled in, they plan to spend the next month gearing up to welcome back volunteers for the 2009-2010 school year.
Post submitted by Brandi Roberts, Field Manager for Experience Corps