The Associated: Working for Baltimore City’s Future

The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore is dedicated to fostering healthy neighborhoods, investing in educational opportunities for the city’s youth and promoting civil discourse.

Here are four updates on ways the organization, through its agencies, is making a difference.

Jewish Museum of Maryland Changes Lives in Partnership with City Schools

Morrell Park: Projected, a collaboration between the Jewish Museum of Maryland, film students from Johns Hopkins University and Morrell Park Elementary/Middle School has changed the lives of eighth-grade students. Now in its second year, the program teaches middle schoolers about the art of storytelling, then produced films about their lives that premiered in a red-carpet event at the JMM.

Simultaneously heartwarming and gut-wrenching, these films run the gamut of emotions. In the first year, stories ranged from the challenges of having a father in jail to the joys of learning sign language to better communicate with a parent to a young girl who was sexually abused.

Not only did the students confront and overcome life challenges, they gained vital technology skills that prepared them for high school and developed trust with the JMM professionals and other outsiders. In addition to Morrell Park, this year the program has also expanded to Graceland Park-O’Donnell Heights Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City.

Giving Hope Through JVC’s Repair the World

Through its VolunTeams, Repair the World is connecting teams of young volunteers to Baltimore City nonprofits that address the needs of the underserved. One of these VolunTeams, co-chaired by Jessica Lewis and Pammy Franklin, visit Sarah’s Hope, a homeless shelter in Sandtown-Winchester. Every month, they engage 10 to 30 young children in projects that range from arts and crafts to sports, giving hope to these children experiencing homelessness.

Jessica Lewis recalls one of her most meaningful sessions. “A little girl drew a big house with a big garden, and she told me that one day she hoped to be able to plant and grow her own fruits and vegetables. It was heartwarming to see a young girl who was experiencing such an unfortunate stage in her life, continue to be optimistic and have dreams for the future.”

Promoting Mutual Understanding

CHAI’S general service area (GSA), has the most diverse demographic population in Baltimore City. Within its communities, there are residents from the Jewish, African American Diaspora and Latinx communities. As various groups have migrated and settled in the communities, intergroup tensions have risen and resulted in incidents that were rooted in racial/cultural bias and misunderstanding. Through its work with various groups of community members CHAI’s community engagement team heard that there is a great interest in understanding people from a variety of cultures. They also found that having a community that respects the differences of members from various backgrounds is critical.

This spring, CHAI’s director of community organizing will work with diversity, racial equity and inclusion leader, Uplift LLC, led by Sharlimar Douglass, to facilitate a four-part series for women only. These community dialogues will include a cohort of leaders from the various diverse communities to begin conversations regarding the differences they have, how they can break down assumptions/biases and ways to support the community they care about.

Jewish Museum of Maryland Spearheads Neighborhood Revitalization

The Jonestown Vision plan, spearheaded by the Jewish Museum of Maryland, recently was adopted by Baltimore City as the master plan for the redevelopment of one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods. Since the plan was first introduced, millions of dollars have been invested in the community and some of the area’s leading nonprofits, including the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Ronald McDonald House, established centers here.

The plan was developed in partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the McKim Community Center, the Carroll Museums, Helping Up Mission and St. Vincent DePaul Church, local businesses and residents, among others.

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