The St. Francis Reader                            Winter 2016
      

 

St. Francis Neighborhood Center

Our mission is committed to ending generational poverty through education, inspiring self-esteem, self-improvement, and strengthening connections to the community. 



Count on Me!
Last year was our Center's biggest year since our founding in 1963. More residents served, more volunteers, more support. But, also...more need. Our theme for 2015 was "Exceeding Expectations." For 2016, it is "Count on Me." We can't do what we do without YOU! And, as we enter an exciting year of growth, transition, and impact we count on you. Thank you, and enjoy the news below...get ready to feel great about what is happening in Reservoir Hill and West Baltimore. --Christi Green, Executive Director.

Youth Programming at it's BEST!

Good News!   Fourth grader Samar is beaming over her Quarter 1 report card for good reason. Last year when Samar's performance fell behind in Math and Language Arts, the Power Project staff assigned her a tutor. With the help of her tutor and mentor Samar worked hard through the spring and summer to improve her math and reading skills. Her months of studying have paid off! This is the first quarter Samar has earned all A's in all subjects. We are so proud of you Samar, keep up the good work! Samar is a 4th grader at Midtown Academy. She wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up.
 
Prodigies Honored... In December, Power Project Youth were awarded an Honor Rows award through the Baltimore Ravens. The Honor Rows program recognizes youth organizations that provide outstanding volunteer service to their communities.  The Power Project was selected based on students' dedication to service learning and community outreach. On December 20th, 2 5 of our students with the hi ghest behavior scores from all age groups attended the Ravens vs. the Chiefs home game along with Power Project staff and mentors. Students received Honor Rows Raven's t-shirts, a pre-game on-field visit and official in-game recognition on the RavensVision screen! 
Local news station WBAL featured St. Francis Neighborhood Center on their morning news program. View the original interview with Youth Program Manager Jessica Childress, students Asia Brooks and Emmanuel Leach here:   http://www.wbaltv.com/sports/st-francis-neighborhood-center-awarded-with-ravens-honor-rows/37013914
 
Kid's Corner...Kid's Having a Voice in West Baltimore
A ll of us are fond of the prodigies at St. Francis Neighborhood Center. We feel it is imperative to hear their voice and to remember that children have insight and inspirations that we often lose as we grow older. Pairing this with the recent events in Baltimore, we have come to discuss these and other issues with students in the Power Project.
 
T his month, I interviewed two of our students - Asia B. and Emmanuel (both age 12). Asia is a talented and aspiring young artist. Emmanuel hopes to be a teacher, mathematician, and scientist. Here are their feelings about the unrest last April just a few blocks from the Center. I asked them was how they feel today in regards to the unrest. Both are still "scared, and afraid it could happen again." Emmanuel said, " I used to go to CVS all the time and get my medicine there, so it's scary to see something that has been there for years just disappear. " Asia focused more on police matters. She wanted to clarify that she recognizes, "not all (police) officers are bad." However, she shared her opinion that "the officers involved in the Freddie Gray case were bad for seemingly denying medical attention." Both students went on to discuss creative ideas to help combat police brutality and corruption.

Instead of using cameras on police officers, Asia suggested "testing the police without their knowledge." Another idea was to "have a person or advocate ride with officers to make sure procedure is followed and hold officers accountable." Both agreed that " people behave differently when they're being watched." Despite this, Emmanuel supports "police cameras on all police vehicles and officers to deter corruption and aid everyone in investigation procedures. He suggested "sending live feeds to the station, in order to avoid having video files potentially edited or erased."

When asked if they still think about the unrest - and if not, why that is, Asia talked about how she "doesn't like to think about the horrible events that happened that week." Emmanuel thought about it a little bit more. He was "frustrated with the media," arguing "that they made Baltimore look like a place, filled with angry, rioting citizens," as opposed to the, "violent, but isolated incidents," they were. He'd prefer it if everyone could
"focus on the positive."
When asked about what they would change, both students " wished the arresting officers handled the situation differently." They went on to express how "upset they were with the media's portrayal of the unrest." I asked if burning buildings down or robbing Mondawmin Mall helped change anything, Asia said that, "It didn't really make a difference... but... it showed people what we can do." Emmanuel expressed frustration with how rioters handled the situation. He " wished people expressed their frustration in a nonviolent manner."  
I went on to ask them, "If you could do anything to change things, and what happened, what would you do?" Both said " s upport peaceful protests and would like to create a movements that support peace and acceptance." Asia recommended " the development of an app, which would share positive stories or opportunities to get involved and help one's community." This helped answer my next question, "What do you think you can do today to help make things better?" -William Drew, Project Coordinator
Want to help keep Dr. King's dream alive, or continue to change the world? Then   donate or   volunteer today!
Innovation Village... A sia B. has been very busy this month! On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, she read excerpts from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King at a news conference announcing a community partnership called "Innovation Village." This project involves plans for new businesses, jobs, housing and retail for West Baltimore neighborhoods. One of the projects includes the expansion of our Center and programs!

Loaded and ready to go on January 30 to clothe and feed the homeless
Fantastic Fundraising!
We held a Winter Coat and Fundraising Drive at Langermann's on January 20th to benefit our Center. The event served as a drop off for donations: our Center kids, as a service project, collected these items to distribute for a large group of people who are homeless near the Center: outerwear for all ages, blankets/sleeping bags, snacks, and travel size hygienic products. Thankfully, the event was a success despite the trouble with the weather and roads. We filled four cars with donated items! Many thanks to you, the public, and Langermann's for your support!  On January 30, we delivered the items to the homeless with partner Love & Liberty Ministries.  
O ur prodigy Ryleigh handing out hygiene items.


Volunteer with Us!


Why volunteer? Would you believe me if I told you volunteering can help you find friends, reach out to the community and learn new skills, while passing on your own skills to others. We offer various opportunities for our volunteers to impact the Reservoir Hill community. These include, Power Project, Tutoring, mentoring, professional development classes, fitness classes, computer lab/coding, community engagement events, and our annual Reservoir Hill festival. We are devoted to both our Prodigies and the people who influence them. We strive to create volunteer opportunities that are personal to our volunteers, allowing them to serve in a position that is meaningful to their skill set. 
    
When you choose to volunteer with the St. Francis Neighborhood Center you quickly learn that we are a close knit group that is committed to our mission, ending generational poverty through education, inspiring self-esteem, self-improvement, and strengthening connections to the community. We do so by supporting our staff and volunteers in professional development. We are able to amplify our message by working closely with various organizations & partners, such as: Code in the Schools, University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore Museum of Art, twelve local schools, Child First Authority, John Eager Howard Recreational Center, Maryland Hunger Solutions, MICA, Morgan State University, Towson University, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Public Television, just to name a few.
 
So again I ask, why Volunteer? If this article hasn't quite answered that question for you, please feel free to visit our website,   www.stfranciscenter.org . There you can find in more detail, information about all of our programs and the history of our center. We are always excited to welcome new volunteers on our team. To close, we want you to feel supported, feel free to contact the Volunteer coordinator, Tara Thompson with any questions or comments,   tthompson@stfranciscenter.org , 410-417-7257.
 
Towne Park had their Corporate
Team Building day at the Center 
where Hailee is sporting one of 
the beanie hats they made out of 
sweaters!
Special thanks to recent groups who volunteered with us--Friends of Reservoir Hill, Towne Park, and Johns Hopkins University (alternative Spring Break), and more!
 
New Staff Addition... A singer, a dentist, the first woman referee for the NFL. These were just a few of our new Volunteer and Parent Liaison Coordinator Tara's childhood aspirations growing up. She admits she was fortunate enough to have parents who supported every dream that she could possibly come up with because it changed drastically week to week. When Tara was 12 years old, her mother decided that she wanted to help children who didn't have this support system, by getting involved in Foster Care. Being exposed to this at such a young age and learning that there were children out there who didn't have someone to expose them to resources that helped them achieve their dreams, intrigued Tara. This influence led to her joining Best Buddies in high school working with her peers with special needs and in turn led to a desire to assist children for a living.
     Tara holds a background in behavioral health and mental health, as well as a background in nonprofit case management assisting children with behavioral and mental health needs and has also done her own share of volunteering in her hometown of Harrisburg, PA. Tara indicates that she is excited for the future with The St. Francis Neighborhood center, and looks forward to being that support system that her parents and teachers were for her for children in the Reservoir Hill Community. These days, Tara's goals have changed quite a bit. She's working on enrolling in a Consumer Psychology masters program at one of the local Maryland schools, and wants to use her degree to assist in the growth of the St. Francis Neighborhood Center.
     Stay tuned!  We have new after school instructors and interns that just joined our amazing team we will highlight next newsletter!

Enterprising Entrepreneurs...
 
 
On Monday, January 25th, Power Project prodigies Jwarn, Robert, and their friend Jamar shoveled the snow on our sidewalk and walkway! They did a great job! We'd like to thank them for their efforts, and encourage the community to support our local entrepreneurs.

New Center Partner!   FREE coding classes at our Center in which coding, fashion, and tech, are introduced by Civic Eagle's coding branch called Digital Marauders.  Learn from award winning app developers who have 10 years of fashion design experience. The kids will be able to design an outfit on a mannequin using code and basic instructional format while getting immediate feedback/results that come from creating a full computer program. Spots are limited and must be registered at  www.bmoreglamtech.com .  Best for ages 8-15, only 25 spots are available.
*Class will focus on the following: 1) Showing kids how coding skills can lead to a successful business venture 2) a hands on wearable tech activity 3) techniques to simplify coding and 4) teach introductory and mid levels coding skills.  The class is March 19 from 3-5 pm.

Parent & Board Member Ms. Everel, Executive Director, Christi Green, and Delegate Robinson attend the press conference to announce our Internet Essentials Learning Zone partnership!
We Should All Be Connected...
The Center is now an Internet Essentials Learning Zone Site.  What does this  mean?   It is a network of partners working together to create a continuum of connectivity that begins online in classrooms, then extends to community centers, computer labs, and after-school programs and finally ends at home.  St. Francis Neighborhood Center is excited to be partnering with the City of Baltimore, The Family League,  and additional organizations, Comcast is providing free high speed Wi-Fi to 16 community centers including our Center, the ability to connect to the Internet at home through Internet Essentials, and access to digital literacy programs and training to help close the digital divide in the City.  This program  provides low-cost high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month plus tax; the option to purchase an Internet-ready computer for under $150 and multiple options to access free digital literacy training in print, online and in-person.  Eligible families must have at least one child eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program, including public, parochial, private and home-schooled students.  For more information or to apply for the program, visit www.internetessentials.com or call 1-855-846-8376.

We stand with Residents Against the Tunnels...
Residents of Reservoir Hill Baltimore concerned about train tunnels being built under the neighborhood see their 
Facebook Link.  Please check it out!

Coming Up...
  • We still have the neighborhood newsletter to finish canvassing? Can you help?
  • Friends of Reservoir Hill meets at the Center on February 8, from 7-9 pm.
  • February 25, Community Potluck and open forum with Baltimore City Police!  Voice your concerns.  6:30-7:30, bring your favorite dish to share!
  • Yoga is offered 6:30 pm every Wednesday evening at the Center, no cost to residents.  
  • Love & Liberty Ministries offers Tuesday evenings 7:30 pm Bible Studies and Sunday worship at 4:00 pm in the Center weekly.
  • Corpus Christi Catholic Church offers free groceries to those most in need in Reservoir Hill every Monday at 9:30.  Must show proof of residency in the neighborhood.
  • Narcotics Anonymous meets every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evening at 6:00 pm at the Center.
Stay Tuned...
  • We are taking a trip to the Statehouse! We applied for a Bond Bill to help with a renovation & expansion of the Center. Part of the application process is to fill a bus and show our support of the Center at the hearing! Date TBA
  • Saturday homework help - help us help our kids not fall behind! With the snow, our kids lost some valuable learning time. We are scheduling homework help and computer lab sessions to help our kids. Dates TBA
  • Glam Tech coding classes for the fashion tech savvy, March 19
  • Community/Center clean up day to be scheduled in April! Date TBA
  • April 23 Job Readiness Training for both youth and adults!  
  • Our first annual golf outing fundraiser will be in October, more information to come!
 
#countonme

 


St. Francis Neighborhood Center
2405 Linden Ave. Baltimore, MD 21217  
Team:
Full Time:
Christi Green, Executive Director
 
Jessica Childress, Youth Program Manager
Torbin Green, Outreach & Program Director
Tara Thompson, Volunteer & Parent Liaison Coordinator

Part Time:
Richard Davis, Facilities Manager
William Drew, Project Coordinator
Brianna Faulkner, Teaching Instructor
Jenna Gray, Lead Teaching Instructor
Kristina Gray, Teaching Intern
Daniel King-Robertson, Teaching Intern
Dan Nolan, Teaching Instructor
Morganne Ruhnke, Teaching Instructor