After the unrest in Baltimore in April, many of us wondered, “What can I do to make a difference in our community?” With this question in mind, MRIA Board members established the Social Justice League to encourage and facilitate engagement between Bolton Hill and existing organizations serving the greater Mount Royal area. The League seeks to improve our wider neighborhood community for all of those who live within it.
The League’s initial efforts are focusing on three main areas:
1. Community Involvement Asset List The League has started this MRIA Community Asset List with information on the many organizations that serve our community, along with their needs, including volunteers and monetary and material donations. The list is accessible through a permanent link under the MRIA tab on the Bulletin website’s main menu, and soon also on the main MRIA website and on MRIA’s Facebook page. The League intends to update the list regularly and welcomes input from Bulletin readers. This list should make it easy for everyone to find an organization whose mission aligns with their interests, talents, and resources.
2. Neighborhood-wide Efforts The League is identifying community organizations from the Asset List for concerted support from the neighborhood. They have selected the Baltimore Reading Partners and their book collection program for their first neighborhood-supported initiative. One of the cornerstones of the Reading Partners’ program, “Take Reading Home,” helps students build their own at-home library. After each tutoring session, every student can pick a book to take home and keep forever, thus enabling children to literally take ownership of their own learning.
To keep the program healthy and growing, new books are always needed. Help foster a lifelong love of reading by donating new or slightly used books appropriate for children from 6 to 12 years of age to our Bolton Hill Book Drive for Reading Partners. Local elementary school Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. participates in the Reading Program. Convenient book drop boxes have been placed in Bolton Hill in the vestibules at both 1309 and 1529 Bolton Street. You may also bring them to the next MRIA Board meeting on January 5th at Memorial Church or to the Party with a Purpose below. The Drive ends on January 31st.
3. Parties with a Purpose The League will sponsor and host gatherings throughout the year that combine a good party with organized time to address topics of importance. Enjoy food, wine and great conversation while being introduced to ideas and opportunities for new community engagement. Organizations from the Asset List may be asked to showcase their work in our community and explain how Bolton Hill neighbors can support their efforts.
The first Party with a Purpose features the No Boundaries Coalition and will be held on January 29, 2016 from 6-9 pm at a home in the neighborhood. To attend, please RSVP by email to BoltonHillSocialJusticeLeague@gmail.com, and you will receive details about the event. Plan on bringing a $5 (or more) cash donation for the No Boundaries Coalition and a bottle of wine to share.
Readers’ thoughts are welcomed regarding organizations for the Asset List, as well as suggestions for those which deserve special focus. To find out how you can get involved, please email to BoltonHillSocialJusticeLeague@gmail.com. Current League members include Andrew and Kendra Parlock, Kellie Welborn, Rob Helfenbein, Michael Marcus, David Nyweide and Peter Van Buren.