Here are ways to support our community during this continuing crisis

After eight months of pandemic, we all yearn to see better days return. Then thoughts turn to the question, “What can I do to help now?”  Start at home by supporting the organizations that serve our community. And as with all non-profits these days, they need our support this fall more than ever.

To facilitate your support and direct it to where it will do the most good, the BHCA Social Action Task Force (SATF) is working to update this 2018 edition of the Volunteer & Giving Guide with changes due to COVID.

 Here’s an update from some of the organizations that we have contacted so far:

The St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC) in Reservoir Hill has raised $4.5 million for its renovation and expansion, and just announced an agreement with the general contractor, Whiting-Turner, to break ground on Phase I of construction.

As one of the most important backstops for youth and families in our community, SFNC has dozens of volunteer opportunities (for mentors, tutors, greening and cleanup, guest speakers and event hosts) and an Amazon wish list that is continuously updated with supply items for their programs. Donate to SFNC here and support their work.

As the coronavirus pandemic brought life to a standstill, the Samaritan Community kept going, because poverty, unemployment, housing instability, hunger, abuse and illness don’t take a break.  Since then, they have:

  • Helped more than 205 local households
  • Delivered 1,800+ bags of groceries
  • Provided 500 case management sessions and 465 counseling sessions by phone, Zoom, or outdoors
  • Distributed more than $26,000 in stipends for people directly impacted by coronavirus for things like rent, utilities, medicines, personal supplies, employment expenses, and more, plus another $9,000 in stipends for those with needs are unrelated to the pandemic but nonetheless critical

Donate to the Samaritran’s Coronavirus Response Fund, and 100% of your donation will go directly to people who have lost their jobs/income due to the crisis. Non-perishable food for their pantry may be dropped off in the basket in the outside breezeway (between Memorial Church & the Rectory on Bolton St.) Mondays or Thursdays, 11 am-12 noon.

The No Boundaries Coalition (NBC) has launched new projects like the Central West Baltimore Buying Club. Skip the grocery store and be par of  their collective buying power to order directly from food distributors, businesses and local makers.

The club offers a wide variety of fresh produce, some of it, including locally grown in our zip code at Strength to Love Farm and Whitelock Community Farm.  They also offer baked goods, toiletries, herbal solutions, PPE and other household goods delivered to your door. More details here.

The traditional NBC fundraiser gala (always the “Party-of-the-Season”) can’t happen this year so the fun will move online, with personally curated “experience boxes” from local small businesses available for purchase. The offerings will be revealed and ordering begins in early November. All boxes purchased will be delivered before Thanksgiving.

There also will be a virtual champagne toast is on Dec. 8.  For details , signup for the NBC  newsletter using this contact form.

Looking to 2021, 7th and 8th grade readers can join the new NBC Book Club. Then as part of One Book Baltimore in the New Year, they for will read “We Speak for Ourselves,” by New York Times bestselling author and Baltimore native D. Watkins. The sessions will run Wednesdays, 5-6pm, starting Feb 3.

Donate to NBC here to support their projects and learn about volunteering, including helping Get Out The Vote (GOTV) – the really important work.

Longtime Central West Baltimore activist Ray Kelly and the Citizen’s Policing Project (CPP) continue working to  implement the Consent decree to reform Baltimore Police Department. But that’s not all. Working from St. Peter Claver Church at Upton Triangle, they focus on building our local community with their Beyond Youth Organizing program and weekend grocery distributions.

Every weekend since the pandemic started, CPP has distributed groceries, masks, and essential items to Sandtown-Upton neighbors. They’ve distributed over 3,000 bags of groceries and more than 4,000 masks.  Get involved by helping at a distribution – the next one is Sat., Oct. 24, from 10 am to 2 pm for setup, followed by the distribution at 2 in Upton Triangle Park.

Donations of cloth masks can be delivered to their office Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 am – 2 pm. Or donate money to support CPP here.

The updated version of the Giving Guide will posted on the BHCA website soon. We encourage you to give what you can in time, goods, and money. Be creative. As we give, we strengthen our community and improve things for all of us.

  • Chris Kingsley and Peter Van Buren