Monday, June 29, 2009

Healthy Neighborhoods: a Great Investment!

Did you know Baltimore's Healthy Neighborhoods provides prospective homeowners with grants and low-interest mortgage loans to purchase, rehab, or refinance properties in Baltimore City? Healthy Neighborhoods targets up-and-coming blocks and neighborhoods where real estate is currently undervalued, granting residents the capital to invest in real estate and strengthen their neighborhood while creating their dream home.

If you'd like to find out how you can take advantage of Healthy Neighborhoods Incentive programs, contact Angie Sriram, GHCC's Real Estate Manager, to start the pre-qualification process. Here, April & McSendy Pierre share their recent home renovation experience:

What are you getting yourself into?
Was the common reaction we got from our family and friends when we walked them through our 79-year-old townhouse in Ednor Gardens. I would admit at first glance the house wasn't much to look at, especially compared to the brand new homes being built in the County, but since I wanted a home with a charming historic exterior surrounded by mature trees and my wife wanted a home with a modern kitchen and bathroom, renovating in Ednor Gardens was the perfect compromise.

Twilight Zone
We were first introduced to the opportunities in Baltimore City when in 2002 my college friend, Benjamin, formed the Claros Construction Company and renovated several abandoned and burned out historic brownstones in Reservoir Hill. I was amazed at how the renovations were giving these once stately homes a second chance. They were being completely reborn, refreshed inside and out, just as the designer had envisioned. When you stop and think about the process, it's quite spiritual. To now walk up to these houses brimming with old world charm and class, then seeing the interior decked out in all the new modern conveniences, it was like entering the Twilight Zone.

Information Highway
In the summer of 2008, we started looking for a home. LiveBaltimore was a great source of information. From there we learned about the various Baltimore City neighborhoods, the free home buying seminars, and numerous incentive programs. After going to just a few open houses in Ednor Gardens, we fell in love with the neighborhood and diverse community. When we were ready to purchase a home, Angie Sriram of the Greater Homewood Community Corporation (GHCC) was a great help in walking us through the Healthy Neighborhood Incentive (HNI) program. The HNI program helped us to purchase and rehab a property by giving us an attractive loan product, as well as providing us with an architect to help plan improvements and review our contractor’s proposal. Having heard many horror stories about renovation projects, we are glad to say our project went surprisingly smoothly. Even though, we did a lot of research, it was reassuring to know we had the knowledge and experience of our Contractor, GHCC, and HNI on our project. It was a blessing to watch this once old and dilapidated house be transformed into our beautiful contemporary home in just a few short months.

Here are some pictures from the renovation:



Friday, June 26, 2009

New (Old) Ways to Read Greater Homewood Voices

Do your eyes glaze over when people start talking about subscribing to RSS feeds and keeping up with their Google Reader? Does the thought of checking in with several different blogs every day make you crazy? It might seem old-fashioned, but some people prefer to receive updates via email. We appreciate that, so we've added a convenient option to receive these blog posts in your email inbox.

Subscribing to email updates for Greater Homewood Voices is easy: simply type your email address into the "subscribe via email" field in the sidebar to your right. Clicking subscribe will prompt you to type a security code (to protect against spam), and then you are done! A confirmation email should arrive in your mailbox shortly, and it will ask for you to click a link to verify your subscription.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The First Lady's Call to Service and YouTube's VideoVolunteers Launch

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama issued a call to service to kick off United We Serve, the administration's summer of service for all Americans. She encourages us to volunteer in any capacity we can, regardless of our means or our skills. Projects and opportunities can register on to participate in this effort. Another new website, All for Good, has appeared as well -- it acts like a Craigslist for volunteer projects and opportunities.

If you've ever considered volunteering in your community but thought doing so on your terms was not an option, think again. YouTube has responded to United We Serve with VideoVolunteers, a direct attempt to engage YouTube's millions of users in online volunteering. VideoVolunteers connects tech-savvy folks with interest and skill in video editing to non-profits who need help spreading their message on the internet. In fact, a few popular YouTube personalities have already given their time and talents to get the word out about VideoVolunteers. See below:

If you've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to volunteer for a cause you believe in, wait no longer! The possibilities are limitless, and in many cases you don't even need to leave your home.

Monday, June 22, 2009

From Indiana to Maryland: The Start of my AmeriCorps Experience

Meet Cyndel Taylor, a soon-to-be AmeriCorps VISTA member with GHCC's Adult Literacy & ESOL program. As we prepare for the departure of our current AmeriCorps members and the arrival of 12 new volunteers in August, look for more VISTAs' stories on Greater Homewood Voices.

At the beginning of June, I moved from Indiana to Maryland to begin preparing to take over the Special Literacy Projects VISTA position with Greater Homewood Community Corporation. I came across AmeriCorps during my senior year of college when I decided I wanted to spend some time working in a service-oriented position. I’ve always wanted to spend at least a year doing some sort of service, and I figured that if I waited too long after college, I might never actually do it. AmeriCorps seemed like the perfect fit because they would place me at a non-profit, which is where I would like to be in my future career. Luckily, while I was looking through the various positions, I found that GHCC had an Adult Literacy and ESOL program. I was finishing up my senior internship at a non-profit that specialized in adult education and ESOL (which I happened to love doing), so I immediately applied for the position.

I find working with adults invigorating because they genuinely want to learn. They come to tutoring sessions because they want to make their lives a little better, and I cherish every opportunity I can get to help them achieve their goals. My position for the next year will allow me to take on more responsibility than I had in my internships, which will help me prepare for the next step in my life after AmeriCorps. Plus, I will also be able to strengthen my writing, organizational, communication, and planning skills.

August will definitely be an exciting month for me as I start training in Philadelphia and begin my year with GHCC. I have never been to Philadelphia before, which makes the training even more exciting. Plus, I will be able to get to know the city of Baltimore and meet all the people at GHCC after the training. The one thing I am worried about actually has nothing to do with starting my position—it has to do with finding housing in Baltimore. I would like to find an affordable apartment in a good neighborhood. Hopefully that is possible!

Overall, I am very much looking forward to the coming year!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Block Project Report: Richnor Recycles!

Written by Sam Chalfant

Not only was last Saturday the first official day of summer for Baltimore City Public School Students, it was the Richnor Springs Neighborhood Association’s summer kick-off block party.

This summer’s block party had a special theme: Richnor Recycles! As many Baltimoreans know, the city begins to operate under a One-Plus-One waste pickup system on the 14th of July. Under this new system, garbage will only be picked up once per week instead of two times per week and recycling will be picked up once a week instead of once every two weeks.

Richnor Springs wants to make sure their community is ahead of the game as Baltimore City makes this transition. The neighborhood association utilized grant money provided by the Greater Homewood Community Corporation Block Project Grant and a Cleaner Greener Baltimore Recycle More grant to address the need for increased recycling at this year's block party. At the event, 40 lucky residents were presented with free recycling bins to assure that they are ready for July 14th. In addition to free bins, Tonya Simmons, Recycling Coordinator for the Department of Public Works was on hand to speak about the new One-Plus-One system and field questions from community members. Ms. Simmons' knowledge of the new system proved invaluable as residents were able to learn all about the why, what, where, and when of One-Plus-One.

All the standard fun that accompanies a neighborhood block party was also on display last Saturday. Two barbecue grills pumped out toasty hot dogs for all. The kids (as well as some adults) got sugar overloads from fruity ice pops. Residents of Richnor Springs enjoyed the opportunity to socialize with each other and listen to music and, despite forecasts to the contrary, the seemingly constant rain of the past month was nowhere to be seen on Saturday. Kudos to Richnor Springs for hosting such a fun and informative event!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Join the Early Literacy Team at Barclay Elementary/Middle School for a Year of Service!

The early literacy team at Barclay Elementary/Middle School in Charles Village recently launched a program to provide students and their families with more resources for improving literacy in the early grades. A part of Project Early ID, an early literacy project piloted at Barclay, the program includes one-on-one tutoring, free books, and literacy trainings. Community volunteers directly engage with students by serving as “Story Pals” for children in grades Pre-K through 3. The program, which has engaged community volunteers as well as Experience Corps members, teachers, parents, and staff, has been highly successful in its first year. Since January 2009, Barclay School has recruited over 10 volunteers to read one-on-one with approximately 20 students. Through free book shelves around the school and scheduled give-aways at trainings and parent nights, the school has given away over 4,000 books to students and their families.

Even with this success, it is evident that the program still has room to grow. Other schools in the Greater Homewood network have expressed interest in implementing a similar model of volunteer engagement targeting early literacy. With the help of a Volunteer Maryland Early Literacy Coordinator, the Barclay School Early Literacy team hopes to expand its program threefold in the coming year to engage over 200 students in early childhood and primary grades at Barclay. Additionally, the Volunteer Maryland Coordinator will develop a model for the program that can easily be applied to other schools.

Please help us spread the word about this exciting opportunity to work as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator in one of Baltimore’s great City Schools!

Recruitment Announcement
Early Literacy Volunteer Coordinator at the Barclay School

Make a Difference for Baltimore’s Youngest Students!

Join The Barclay School #54’s dynamic early literacy team in providing our youngest readers and their families with more resources for improving literacy in the early grades, including one-on-one tutoring, free books, and literacy trainings. While establishing a model of volunteer development, the Coordinator will help to lay the foundation for a greater early literacy network in Baltimore City Schools.

The Early Literacy Volunteer Coordinator at Barclay will recruit volunteers to serve as read-aloud tutors, collect and distribute free books to students and parents, assist with trainings and professional development for school staff and volunteers, and organize celebrations of students’ reading successes. This is a part-time, one-year commitment as a member of AmeriCorps (sometimes referred to as a "domestic Peace Corps"). The service year begins September 16 and includes extensive training, a modest living allowance, and a post-service education award.

If interested, please send a cover letter and resume to

Katie Horn at

Monday, June 15, 2009

Interested in GHCC's Work? Join Us!

The job market looks grim these days, but GHCC may be searching for you! We are looking for two dedicated, enthusiastic individuals to join our team. If you love the work we do, please consider sending us your resume!

Open positions include:

Schools and Youth Program Coordiantor

We are seeking an organized, energetic person to serve as Program Coordinator of our Schools and Youth Program. GHCC's Schools and Youth Program works extensively in and around public schools in north central Baltimore, building connections and partnerships and organizing parents and the community around the goals of strengthening schools, neighborhoods, youth opportunities. Working with over 100 partners, we leverage significant resources for schools, neighborhoods and youth.

CSAFE Community Organizer

We are seeking an energized individual to serve as our CSAFE Community Organizer. The CSAFE-VPI Community Organizer position is funded through a grant from the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention. The CSAFE grant is administered by the Mayor's Office on Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the Baltimore City Police Department. MOCJ implements CSAFE-VPI as a comprehensive, community-based program, bringing together local and citywide stakeholders through strategic programming in order to reduce violent crime in identified CSAFE communities. Major focus areas of programming include: citizens on patrol, domestic violence, and youth violence prevention.

Interested? Visit our employment page for more details!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Write for Greater Homewood Voices!

Got a story about life in your neighborhood? Consider sharing it on the blog! Greater Homewood Voices is always seeking new writers to author guest posts. Blog writing is easy: short, informal, and fun. Guest posts should be approximately 400 words and include a few pictures to illustrate your story.

All types of content are welcome to be submitted for consideration: opinion, personal narratives, or event announcements. Your post will be proofread and given a few minor edits if necessary, so don't feel like you need to turn in a masterpiece -- it just has to be from the heart!

Convinced yet? If you'd like to write something, contact Jaclyn Paul at 410-261-3618 or

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Come Out and Experience Taste of Govanstowne!

This post courtesy of Jay Harris and the Govanstowne Business Association

Get your taste buds ready for some culinary delights!

The Govanstowne Business Association will present the 2nd Annual Taste of Govanstowne on Saturday, June 20th between 11am & 4pm at the Senator Theatre.

Fourteen restaurants will offer delicious samples of their food, including Atwater’s, Bombay Gardens, CafĂ© Zen, Crush Restaurant, Edible Arrangements, Greg’s Bagels, Jerry’s Belvedere Tavern, Negrill Jamaican Carry Out, Ryan’s Daughters, Saigon Remembered, Starbucks, Swallow at the Hollow, Tam Tam Restaurant, and Zen West.

For an all-inclusive admission of $10, you will be invited to sample a great variety of foods and given opportunities to win exciting prizes. There is a 10% discount for purchases of 10 or more tickets. Reserve your tickets today by calling 410-561-0065. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Come and enjoy and don’t worry about getting messy, we have plenty of napkins!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Photos from Experience Corps End-of-Year Member Appreciation Luncheon

Experience Corps members were treated to a luncheon in their honor and a keynote speech by Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings last week. This much-anticipated annual event gives Experience Corps staff and supporters an opportunity to say "thank you" to the over 300 older adult volunteers who give life to the program. Following is the first batch of photos from the event. Watch our Facebook page and YouTube channel for more this week!

Experience Corps Member Jean Sherrod with Congressman Elijah Cummings

Experience Corps Team Leader Jean Sherrod visits with Congressman Cummings following his keynote speech.

Member Appreciation Luncheon

Hundreds of Experience Corps volunteers line up for a buffet lunch in their honor.

Experience Corps Staff Member and Former Volunteer Michael Burke and MD Congressman Elijah Cummings

Experience Corps staff member and former volunteer Michael Burke receives a very special signature from Elijah Cummings.

Member Appreciation Luncheon

Experience Corps members and supporters -- along with a news camera -- wait for Elijah Cummings' keynote speech to begin.

To get involved or learn more about Experience Corps, visit our website.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Seeking: National Service Volunteers

GHCC is seeking a self-directed, dedicated individual to create new and exciting opportunities for students at Success Academy, the new alternative middle/high school located at the City Schools' North Avenue headquarters. Think it could be you? Read on!

AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members provide one year of full-time service to over 1,200 non-profit, faith-based, and other community organizations and public agencies throughout the country in an effort to alleviate poverty in the communities they serve.

AmeriCorps service provides an unparalleled opportunity to further your non-profit career and gain valuable skills while giving back to the community. GHCC is currently seeking people like you to become VISTA members at our organization this August. Many opportunities are already filled, but the following position is available and waiting for you.

Youth Opportunity Development Coordinator

Create, build, and strengthen connections between Success Academy, a public middle/high school for expelled or otherwise out-of-school youth in Baltimore City, and community institutions. Build networks that provide resources and development to at-risk students in order to give them the tools, skills, and support they need to rise above the statistics. Major duties include:

  • Become familiar with neighborhoods and neighborhood leaders, businesses and business associations, educational and cultural institutions by meeting with neighborhood and community leaders, attending neighborhood association meetings, and researching and engaging educational and cultural institutions.
  • Create, build, and enhance relationships with neighborhood residents and associations, businesses, educational, faith, and health institutions to develop a strong, permanent network to be utilized for career/workforce development, community service, and cultural enrichment partnerships.
  • Facilitate and strengthen current mentoring program between inmates and Success Academy students by developing sustainable partnerships with prison administrators.
  • Assess needs of Success Academy Parent Institute and connect to resources throughout Baltimore City.
  • Collaborate with Success Academy staff to research best practices and develop programs to prevent student incarceration.

To learn more about this opportunity contact:

Jaclyn Paul, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader
(410) 261-3618 |

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gilman, Bryn Mawr, and Guilford Schools Partner up for the National Academic League

Written by Karen DeCamp, GHCC Public Education Programs

Guilford Elementary/Middle School teacher Ted Smith and Guilford neighbor Grace Pollack teamed up to form a unique partnership of Guilford students and students from Gilman and Bryn Mawr Schools. The private school students helped Guilford Middle School students study for National Academic League (NAL) games. On Sunday evenings this year, you could find private and public school students together eating dinner and brushing up on study questions.

The results? The Guilford team went undefeated for the season, proving that hard work pays off. And the bigger news? All ten Guilford NAL eighth graders were successful in their applications to competitive citywide high schools. Next year they will be attending Baltimore City College, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Western High School and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Way to go!

Below is a note from one of Guilford's eighth grade students:

To whom it may concern,

I just wanted to let all of the Gilman and Bryn Mawr students know that I really appreciated your time and patience. To know that you have a heart for the community puts a smile on my face. We may not have always behaved the best but you still helped us to learn so much. We made it to nationals and we were able to get into very good high schools. You helped me to learn enough to get into Poly, [one of the best public high schools in the state]. Again, I want to say thank you for your tender, loving care.
- Malik Kelly