Monday, November 24, 2008

Regina Boyce: GHCC's Volunteer of the Year

GHCC appreciates all of the nearly 2,000 dedicated volunteers who help us strengthen neighborhoods in north central Baltimore. We recognize one particularly outstanding volunteer every autumn at GHCC’s annual meeting and awards dinner. The GHCC Volunteer of the Year is often an individual whose service has touched multiple programs in the organization, and this year’s winner is no exception.

Regina Boyce was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Rockville, moving to Waverly about four years ago. She became active in her local neighborhood organization, the Waverly Improvement Association, and has served as its vice president for nearly a year. She describes the neighborhood as “very eclectic in style, very eclectic in its people, eclectic all the way around.” A tireless Waverly booster, Boyce has participated in a number of projects that have promoted that sense of place and neighborhood identity, including Real City, Dream City with Art on Purpose and Maps on Purpose. Using art and mapmaking as means of representing Waverly “showed that Waverly is a lot stronger than people looking from the outside might think,” she says.

GHCC has gotten to know Regina Boyce through activities sponsored by its Neighborhood and Economic Development program like clean-ups and the National Night Out Kick-Off Parade on Greenmount Avenue. But the organization’s Public Education staff also worked with her to advocate for funding to expand the building and curriculum at Waverly Middle School. Boyce was part of a coalition of partners, including the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the Franciscan Youth Center, and Better Waverly Community Organization, that successfully campaigned for the school. “We all came together and said, no, this is not adequate enough and we want more for our children,” she recalls. The state approved the funding for the school in May.
Click here to find out how you can join Regina Boyce and hundreds of other volunteers who support GHCC.
Photo by Jaclyn Paul

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dispatches from the 2nd Annual Neighborhood Institute

Helping residents of north central Baltimore find the tools they need to make their neighborhoods stronger is what GHCC is all about. That's why we've hosted the Neighborhood Institute for the past two years, a day of workshops on the topics that matter most to our neighbors.

This year's Neighborhood Institute, which was held on November 15 at the Charles Commons Conference Center, opened with a panel discussion by some of Baltimore City's top leaders:
  • Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III addressed public safety strategies, including prosecuting gun offenders and gang intervention.
  • Valentina Ukwuoma, Director of the Bureau of Solid Waste for the Department of Public Works, answered questions about how best to keep neighbors from putting trash out on holidays.
  • Laura Weeldreyer, Deputy Director of Baltimore City Public Schools, discussed the progress being made by the city's new transformation and innovation high schools, which have replaced large zoned schools and created more choices for city students.
  • Sarah Zaleski, Sustainability Coordinator of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, described the status of plans to make Baltimore cleaner and greener. Baltimore ranked tenth in the nation in SustainLane's 2008 green city rankings.
  • Mark Sissman, President of Healthy Neighborhoods, encouraged the audience to take pride in their city and the progress it's making in promoting homeownership.

The panel was moderated by Joseph McNeely, Executive Director of the Central Baltimore Partnership.

The workshops that followed offered something for everyone! Veteran community organizer Betty Robinson (pictured above) led a workshop on community organizing with Alyson Harkins of the Community Law Center. Representatives from the Parks and People Foundation, the Chespapeake Bay Trust, and the Herring Run Watershed Association offered tips for neighborhood greening projects. Other topics included drug nuisance abatement, housing code enforcement, how to run effective community meetings, and building partnerships between schools and communities.

We hope you'll join us for the Neighborhood Institute next year! Until then, you can check out GHCC's Neighborhood and Economic Development program for advice and ideas for your neighborhood.