Unified Efforts, Inc. Out of School Time Program Operating in West Baltimore (Penn-North)

Mission Statement Our focus is simple: Provide well structured, meaningful activities, for children of low income families, when k-12 students are not in school. A safe place for youth to create, and grow into future leaders with a network of community wraparound services. (No cost to parents/guardians)

• Workforce college readiness • Summer internships • Collaboration w/YouthWorks • Strong literacy focus • Reduce summer learning loss • STE(A)M • Youth Employment • Wellness/Bullying and Violence Prevention • Family, youth and community engagement projects Vision Statement – Our Big Picture!

We are a determined organization that understands the community we serve desire to have a permanent home for its children to visit when school is out for all sorts of reasons, i.e., inclement weather, HVAC malfunctions, professional development days, holidays, summer breaks, and “I missed the bus”, etc. We have begun our Capital Improvement Project that caters to our families request. The acquisition of three lots in West Baltimore Architectural Designs Demolition of a pre-existing building Future construction

A nonprofit 501( c)(3) organization Contact information: unifiedefforts@comcast.net www.unifiedefforts.org 443-800-0566 Mailing Address: 200 Cross Keys Road #42 Baltimore, MD 21210


Violence Prevention

YouthWorks Internships

Aviation Aerospace

Healthy Cooking

Sports Golf & Soccer

Centering Exercises

Unified Efforts, Inc. 2017 Violence Prevention Summer Program Report

PennNorth Community Baltimore, MD 21217

Debbie Ramsey Executive Director & Founder

Greetings Friends, This year Unified Efforts, Inc. open its doors to forty school age students. We doubled our attendance from our 2016 enrollment. Clearly, we have responded to the needs of this historic community known as Penn-North. Students were from surrounding west Baltimore neighborhoods. Many were within walking distance and others arrived by public and private transportation. The boys outnumbered the girls. The ages ranged from five to nineteen years of age. Included in our population were students assigned to us from Baltimore City’s Office of Employment and Development: Youth Works. Our hours of operation, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5 pm for four consecutive weeks. An additional week was added to accommodate the Youth Works students. We began on June 26 th and concluded on July 21 st . (Youth Works ended July 28th). This was also our second consecutive year at Fulton Baptist Church, located at 1630 W. North Avenue Baltimore, MD 21217. In the heart of Penn-North and bordered by Upton, Sandtown-Winchester, Fulton Heights and Reservoir Hill communities. We are humbled and appreciative of Fulton Baptist Church’s Pastor Julian Rivera and its entire congregation for allowing our program to be housed at their community center. Unified Efforts, Inc. is earnestly seeking to develop, build and construct its own permanent home within the Penn-North community. Presently, this endeavor is in the works: There is no end date. This program would not have been made possible without the continued support of our friends. On behalf of the parents, the community, our children and care providers we thank you all in helping to make this year’s program a success and more importantly, for five weeks we kept forty children safe and sound. Peace and Light to All,

“ Following the North Star – heading our children in the right direction”

Our Mission:

Provide and respond to the, out of school time needs, of our children, and decrease academic loss when our young are out of school during extended periods of time.

Justin Brooks, a resident of west Baltimore, is one of our participating students. Attended our 2016 Summer Program, received a paid internship at Legal Aid of Maryland-Baltimore Office, and has entered the workforce since graduation.

To consistently provide meaningful and structured activities for K-12 students.

Help children with their academic responsibilities.

Seek out peaceable solutions: Provide alternatives to violence youth programs and activities.

Provide opportunities for parents, guardians, and care providers to participate in the process. Make available positive civic engagement opportunities applicable for youth involvement. To always be mindful and appreciate the people, the community’s history and receptive of their enlightenment in helping Unified Efforts, Inc. in becoming a “partner” of their choosing. Our Vision: To become part of Penn-North’s community by erecting a fixed site that will be conveniently located for its youth to access when out of school time activities are needed .

2017 Summer Program Day One: Financial Literacy

June 26 th PNC provided Financial Teen Literacy information for

our Middle & High School Students

Week One: Swimming at Swan Lake in Baltimore, MD…

…received handmade gifts fromour friends: Izzy dolls for all!

Sharing with Dad her new “Izzy” friend





Unified Efforts’ young chefs in the house!





Our kids could not get enough of getting their hands saturated in color and creating works of art!



2018 Unified Efforts Camp

30 area children received swim lessons from certified instructors, at Coppin State University, in 2018 via Unified Efforts. Life- saving activities that is fun and will last a lifetime

Centering techniques for kids

with Friend & Editor Jennie Sherwin

Our friends from The Baltimore Blast stopped by and provided introductory soccer techniques .


IRVINE NATURE CENTER GARRISON, MD Empathy for the least vulnerable creatures helps our students to gain empathy for one another.

Taking care of nature – not having dominion over it .


Our Students continued their healthy eating, preparing and appreciating whole foods with certified Nutritionist Crystal Fordham of the Impact Hub in Baltimore, MD.


Follow this link to hear Davia’s interview by WBAL-TV, while on our site, about Unified Efforts. http://www.wbaltv.com/article/young-chefs-learn-how-to-cook-healthy-recipes/10282834

Justina Pollard WBAL-TV Communication Director

In the News – but in a positive way. WBAL-TV visited our summer program. We were humbled to have received such positive coverage for our children’s sake here in Penn-North. Thank you Justina Pollard/WBAL-TV Communication Director and west Baltimore, MD native. Top: L/R: Bo Brand (UE Volunteer), Jason Newton (WBAL-TV News Anchorman), Justina Pollard (WBAL- TV Communication Director). Bottom L/R: Kim Darcy (WBAL-TV Interviewer), Julian Rivera (Pastor Fulton Baptist Church), and Abraham McCauley (North Avenue Community Development Corporation, Inc. Board Member).

July 10, 2017

Unified Efforts’ Youth Works Student Charles Dixon Aspirations of attending Law School

Judge Wilson District Court of Maryland

Civic Engagement Component: Our Baltimore Youth Works students visited Judge Wilson’s open docket at District Court of Maryland Eastside District Court in east Baltimore, MD. After we had observed a complete criminal docket a Q&A was privately given, and our students enthusiastically engaged in this opening. Our students asked about legal concerns from the Public Defenders, Assistant State’s Attorneys, the sitting Criminal Judge and other officers of the court. L/R: Students Mark Griffin, Jr., Chris Sykes, DaJour Tillsdale, (Judge Wilson), Charles Dixon, Ayanna Urena and Cencere Echols. Thank you, Judge Wilson, for your kindness.

Visit to Kennedy-Krieger Institute

With Dr. Anna Maria Wilms Floet, Jocelyn McCarty HR/Recruitment & Jamie Ball Kurman, Director 801 N. Broadway Building Baltimore, MD Career opportunities for our YouthWorks students to consider


Unified Efforts, Inc.

Left: LaVern Herbert: Graduated from Loyola University last spring (Degree in Health-Medical Profession.) Right: Phyllis Ali : Graduated from Coppin State University last spring (Degree in Social Work) Both work with our lower and middle school students. These women have been a huge part of our success. We humbly thank them all: Both have been with Unified Efforts, Inc. for two consecutive years. In our summer and winter programs.


Olivia Koulish (On her way to high school at Baltimore’s City College) Our

first Intern and works with our lower school age students.

Bo Brand (Back to college in her 3 rd year, California, USA) Works with our

upper students: Youth Works teens.

Ghadir J. Smallwood (Back to college in her 3 rd year, UMBC-works with our lower

and middle school students).


Our new career path program and black history appreciation

Helping to meet our youth’s academic responsibilities. Congratulations to our Justin Brooks!

Unified Efforts, Inc. “guiding our youth in the right direction – follow the North Star”

New perspectives! Middle River Aviation, Inc. Martin State Airport Middle River, MD

At our temporary home in west Baltimore, MD – Fulton Baptist Church (Penn-North) June 26- July 21, 2017


Closing exercises at Fulton Baptist Church on July 23, 2017. Song sung by our class of 2017: “ The World’s Greatest” by R. Kelley

Volunteer Ghadir knows how to get and maintain their attention.

Summertime, school is out, ice cream, sitting under a shade tree, and watching the ships roll by … life is good! Our students enjoying Harbor East in downtown Baltimore, MD. June 29, 2017

https://youtu.be/MAmrxJQ5FRU https://youtu.be/yDuCa25md-I https://youtu.be/6yIHa60_6fE

https://youtu.be/sk-dJt1OcnY https://youtu.be/b0GgFKQzAeM https://youtu.be/6iXAgk3kcS0 https://youtu.be/d3ZK2IfJeb0 We are asking that you click the above links to hear, in their own words, the benefits they received from Unified Efforts, Inc. 2017. Free Summer Violence Prevention Program. Appreciative of their assessments. Thank you for your support Debbie Ramsey Volunteer and Executive Director Unified Efforts, Inc. a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization 443-800-0566 unifiedefforts@comcast.net http://unifiedefforts.org Mailing Address: 200 Cross Keys Road #42 Baltimore, MD 21210

” Follow the North Star – heading our youth in the right direction”


Tending to the needs of our children.

I BelongMagazine.com Youth Violence Prevention Publication

Fall/Winter 2016–17 Our youth provide their peaceable solutions

Inside • Meet West

Baltimore Teens: A Positive Picture

• What are you thankful for? • Free Summer Programs Provided by

supporters of Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center.org Financial Teen Literacy: A Must!

Complimentary Issue

Unified Efforts 443-800-0566 www.unifiedefforts.org

On the Cover MEET THE NEW BALTIMORE! I Belong Magazine.com TeenTeam

Our Publication’s Writers, Content Providers, Ad Reps, and Researchers Dominik, Bo, Angel, Keshauna, Justin, and Quiron Our Greatest of All Times (G.O.A.T.) Magazine Producers

Our writers are area students ensuring that their voices are being heard, and I BelongMagazine.com gives them the forum to do so.

I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

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I Belong Magazine.com fall winter 2016–17 Editor: Jennie Sherwin Staff Writers: Keshauna Benton

Angel Chaffin Justin Brooks Dominik Aye

Contributing Writers:

Research Assistants:

David Gervin Dennis (Trey) Wright, III

Quiron Green Rayelle Cato

Research Coordinator: Bo Brand Photographer: Debie Ramsey . Publisher Debbie Ramsey To place your display advertisement, to submit articles, or to request to be an authorized distribution site, please contact: 443-800-0566 unifiedefforts@comcast.net Unified Efforts provides no warranty and accepts no responsibility regarding the services and products of our advertisers either in print or on-line in I BelongMagazine.com . Also, the views and/or opinions expressed in the advertisements and articles are not the views and/or opinions of I Belong Magazine.com/Unified Efforts. Original content may not be reproduced without written prior consent/permission from Unified Effort s.

• Official logo for Unified Efforts by TBC Advertising Baltimore, MD I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

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What ’ s Inside? I BelongMagazine.com

Letter from the Publisher Page 6

My 2016 Summer YouthWorks Experience Justin Brooks: Pages 14–15 Poetry: Keshauna Benton Page 16 Photo Gallery : UNIFIED EFFORTS OUT OF SCHOOL TIME CENTER Pages 17–25 Volunteers Matter! Page 22 Stay Focused Dennis Wright, III Page 27 WHO IS OUR 2016 NORTH STAR ? Mystery Person Revealed on Page 10


Their Future Begins Here: Page 7 BOOKS THAT BRIDGE: Bullying Prevention Pages 8–9 The Friendly Church on the Corner Page 11 SUMMER OF 2016: My National Aquarium Visit Ange l Chaffin Pages 12–13 Page 4 I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

What are you grateful for? Fill in the blanks: Page 28 Black Lives Matter Page 29 Humble’s Reminder Page 30

Saturday’s Child Crafts • Kids’ Workshops • Family Fun Every Month on Saturdays Full calendar at www.LewisMuseum.org

REGINALD F. LEWIS MUSEUM of Maryland African American History & Culture 830 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202 (443) 263-1800


Money was allocated, new slogans emerged, and politicians declared that a “new day” for West Baltimore would be paramount, and so on and so forth. What’s to pity? It is the people that make up any community. This community has a long and rich history of thriving and surviving all forms of adversities. Unified Efforts did not provide its free summer program out of pity but out of love for people that needed a void to be filled, a void occasioned by the closings of a nearby elementary school and a recreational center. Last summer twenty area students ranging from six to seventeen years of age benefited from Unified Efforts’ five weeks of structured out of school time program. Our success was not so much from what we brought to the table, but from what we received—a lot of optimism from the community’s greatest resource, their youth. The next time you hear or read about how Baltimore’s Penn-North and surrounding West Baltimore communities should be pitied and feared, we say, “Don’t believe the hype.” An African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” My belief is that a single child can raise up an entire community. Deborah B. Ramsey Debbie was named a 2016 Fellow by Open Society Institute , a network of partners, projects and foundations in more than 100 countries. The Baltimore field office focuses on the root causes of intertwined problems in our city and state. Visit OSI-Baltimore. I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

I BELONG MAGAZINE.COM Letter from the Publisher

Deborah B. Ramsey – Open Society Institute 2016 Fellow

Belie When Baltimore’s Penn-North community was ablaze in the spring of 2015, local, national and international coverage on all the 24/7 cable news channels did not miss a moment of Baltimore’s “uprising.” Shame, disbelief and negative labels were mainly directed at our young people. Words like “thugs” and “criminals” were uttered, not just from the media but also from Baltimore’s public officials. Once the smoke cleared, Mayor Rawlings- Blake called off the week-long curfew, and Governor Hogan removed the National Guard, the order of the day was to “pity” Baltimore’s historic community. Page 6

Student Kamal reached a milestone by opening his first savings account. Our mission is to enhance the quality of our kids’ lives. Unified Efforts is a program of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Your support ensures that our programs remain without cost to parents/guardians. Thank you! UNIFIED EFFORTS OUT OF SCHOOL TIME CENTER.ORG 443-800-0566

THEIR FUTURE STARTS HERE Unified Efforts Summer Program: We understand how early financial education can help students achieve their academic goals. Our friends at PNC Bank provided our summer program participants with financial literacy education. It is never too soon to begin making smart financial decisions!

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BOOKS THAT BRIDGE Selected by Dominik Aye

. BULLY Selection: “Time to Take a Stand”

The novel Bully by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen is an empowering companion to the film Bully . The book is an action plan for teachers, parents, and communities to combat the bullying crisis plaguing American schools. I chose this book for bullying prevention month because it shows us ways to help the bullying problem. After reading segments of the book I found information that I felt was important to share. Not only is this epidemic threatening the lives of those being bullied, it can also drive victims to suicide. Bullying can lead to school shootings and hate crimes. Social networking has become more invasive in people’s lives, and mainly

because of the social network, victims are found and bullied anonymously. An essential part of any campaign to prevent bullying and increase empathy is to take positive action by giving the person being bullied some valuable information on how to prevent getting brutally harassed by others. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to reduce bullying— punishing the bully, telling the victims to ignore the bullying or to just stand up for yourself! The best way to survive getting bullied is by carrying yourself in a certain manner and finding ways to stay focused on yourself instead of others. You can also create an anti-bullying policy with the help of your peers and school faculty.

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BULLYING PREVENTION 1. Establish Rules: Set up clear guidelines for technology use at your institution, update policies accordingly. Hand out posters or distribute fliers to make youth aware of the consequences. 2. Educate youth: Engage youth in activities and discussions about ethical standards for online activities. 3. Promote online safety: Increase awareness of internet safety strategies among youth and their families. Did you know over 50 percent of students above the age of 15 with undiagnosed mental illness drop out of high school? (The highest dropout rate of any disability) Bullying can become a life-and-death issue that we cannot ignore. SIGNS TO SHOW THAT A KID IS GETTING BULLIED: 1. A lack of interest in school or refusal to go. 2. Fear of riding the school bus, or taking new and unusual routes to school. 3. Having physical marks, cuts, or bruises. Bullied? Tell someone you trust.

Problem-Solving and Conflict-Resolution Skills: Stop and calm down/count to 10 Take turns listening and tell each other the problem A list of alternatives will help you Narrow your choices Decide on your choices Help each other U turns (avoid problems) Make good choices Be nice Lift their spirits Elaborate and tell trusted adult how you feel * * Bully by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen

Dominik plans to intern at Maryland Legal Aid in Baltimore, MD. Page 9 I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

Ashley Fails is a Baltimore Northstar! Director of Communications atMaryland Legal Aid Baltimore, MD

Last summer Director Ashley Fails was instrumental in providing a tour of the Maryland Legal Aid offices to a group of West Baltimore teens that participated in Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center.

Recognition for outstanding community service. Ashley, you are a Northstar! Page 10 I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

Fulton Baptist Church 1630 West North Avenue Baltimore, MD 21217

“The Friendly Church on the Corner”

David Gervin Contributing Writer

Fulton Baptist Church, also known as the “Friendly Church on the Corner,” was established in the early 1900s by a small group of Christian believers, starting off in a house, then growing and building the congregation and other ministries in the church. On June 20, 1948, the congregation marched from Division Street to their newly acquired building at 1630 West North Avenue. They continued their growth, but some sadness fell upon them in March 1987. The church was destroyed in a fire. Although the building fell, the members stood tall, worshipping in a nearby church, and then moving on to worship for five years at nearby Coppin State University. In September 1992, Fulton Baptist Church members marched back to 1630 West North Avenue. In 2009 after the retirement of their pastor the church was without a leader. But with prayer and patience in 2011 members elected Pastor Julian Rivera. Fast forward five years later: With the great vision and leadership of Pastor Julian Rivera, the congregation has grown from 75 to well

over 300 members. Today there are new ministries, such as the Praise Team Chorale, Men's Choir, Mime Ministry, Thanksgiving dinners, provision of household items and a food pantry. In the spring of 2015 Fulton Baptist Church was spared a potential second fire—this time, FBC helped West Baltimore communities in a time of need. Recently, Pastor Julian Rivera celebrated his fifth year at Fulton Baptist Church: His family, friends, congregation and others helped to celebrate this heartfelt occasion. I encourage you to visit. For more information and upcoming events visit www .friendlyfulton.com.

Fulton Baptist Church is a free community food pantry site. To donate call 410-669-2082

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My National Aquarium Visit Angel Chaffin

A Dolphin Discovery the Aquarium: Often, my favorite part was the Dolphin Discovery exhibit. Today we are learning that the dolphins will be phased out and no longer kept in captivity. Most dolphins

T he National Aquarium is a popular attraction in Baltimore, Maryland. It is in what is locally known as “The Inner Harbor.” When I was younger I visited

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live to reach fifty or sixty years of age. The youngest one at the National Aquarium is eight years of age. Practically a kid, it will not be sent back into the ocean for fear of its knowing how to survive only in a controlled environment and not in open waters. I can remember when my mother would take me to the dolphin exhibit in the aquarium, where she used to work! The Dolphin Discovery exhibit is the largest exhibit in the Aquarium. It opened in 1990. The exhibit had a colony of eight bottlenose dolphins. When my mom worked there, she came in every morning to feed and play with the dolphins. During the dolphin shows she would lead the dolphins to do tricks and would take people to pet them. However, the dolphin shows were stopped a few years ago. Visitors can now see the dolphins only in captivity. Visitors can come in and get a glimpse into the life of a dolphin. There are six female dolphins and two male dolphins. The oldest dolphin was born in the wild in 1972. The dolphins can form relationships with each other. Now there are thirteen marine mammal specialists who take care of the dolphins.

While the current dolphin exhibit is entertaining for us, it is not good for the dolphins. Years of research have proved this, and protests from activists about keeping dolphins in captivity continue. The dolphins in the National Aquarium will be moved to an oceanside sanctuary. The transition is expected to be done by the end of 2020. This will be the first dolphin sanctuary in North America. Scientists say dolphins need their own habitat to express themselves and to form social groups essential for their wellbeing. Sites for the dolphins are being evaluated in Florida and the Caribbean. This change is a victory for animal welfare activists. Who wants to be in captivity anyway? I BelongMagazine.com provides a forum for young people to have their voices heard. When you support our publication and its advertisers, you are helping our students earn income and gain professional public relations skills. Thank you!

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My 2016 Summer YouthWorks Experience

By: Justin M. Brooks

My name is Justin. Last summer I worked at Baltimore’s YouthWorks. This program gives young adults an opportunity for real work experience. It is also a way for us to stay out of trouble. Working with this program helps to open doors for the future. It has been great for me! It was my starter job until I am ready to work on a regular basis. I was awarded a great opportunity at YouthWorks . The City of Baltimore, MD, gave me a job for the summer so my mindset could expand. I believe that giving the youth something to do over the break is beyond great because it helps high school students to stay out of trouble. Keeping students out of danger is great for the parents as well. If the parents know their kids are safe they won’t have to worry about

them as much. The program is for high school students, like me, to experience what a job feels like. It gave me knowledge I can bring into the real world. That is why I think we should be working in the summer and not just staying home playing video games and hanging outside all night long. I was rewarded for my hard work. The program provided me with an income for the summer. I need these opportunities so that I can continue to flourish and be successful in life. YouthWorks matched me up to an employer close to my neighborhood, which handpicked me to work at a special place: Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center located at Penn-North in West Baltimore. Now I am a contributor and writer for this publication. If there is anybody out there

I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

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struggling to get a job, my recommendation is to sign up early for Baltimore’s YouthWorks . A YouthWorks job provides experience that you can put on your resume. I strongly encourage students to get a summer job. It gets you ready for the real world.

Left to right —Dominik, Quiron and Justin I BelongMagazine’s summer research team at Enoch Pratt Library—1531 West North Avenue Baltimore, MD Justin plans to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. CHOOSE PEACEABLE SOLUTIONS

Justin, and Unified Efforts’ students at BG&E Training Center Whitemarsh, MD Below: Tour of Maryland Legal Aid—Baltimore

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Keshauna Benton

Keshauna Benton

1 6

I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016 – 17

What we did last summer at Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center

NOtOt f




The children received their choice of musical instruments.

Creativity is the language of the young.

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Aviation/Aerospace for Girls: Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center Program


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Career Opportunities Workforce Development

Our YouthWorks Summer Students

Students visited : Baltimore City Fire Department, BG&E, Kennedy Krieger, Design Collective, and Maryland Legal Aid Center College preparedness and new career paths

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Irvine Nature Center Garrison, MD

Science is fun ! Learning about aquatic life

Exploring our world Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center Free Programs for K-12

students Page 20


I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17


Healthy smiles and healthy children go hand in hand.

The students received free dental screenings from Colgate Bright Smiles , Bright Futures accompanied by Brite Smiles’ Dental

Hygienist, Chanagra Massey-Smallwood.

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IBelongMagazine.com Fall/Winer 2016–17

We love our volunteers!

Merton Shatzkin Alumni of Julliard School of Music

Nicos Ledakis, volunteer, with his certificate for outstanding community service from Unified Efforts, Inc. Out of School Time Program Volunteerism Matters! We do understand that our organization is only as good as the people that give to us the gift of their time. Thank you all!

one of our volunteers

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Art and Music

2016 summer student Kamari with volunteers Nicos Ledakis and Anna Fedder Page 23

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Summer Program student Keshauna Benton and volunteer Bo Brand Thank you, Bo!

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Ave. Baltimore, Md. 21201


Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center: Conceptual drawing by The Neighborhood Design Center and Design Collective a

am of Fusion Partnerships, Inc. a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit – donations to which are tax deductible and afforded all benefits allowed by law. Our current financial statement


For more information about our Out of School Program, please email us at: unifiedefforts@comcast.net Or call: 443-800-0566 Mail Donations to: UNIFIED EFFORTS Mailing Address: 200 Cross Keys Road #42 Baltimore, MD 21210 Donate on line at www.unifiedefforts.org

up Concept on req water uest. color illustration by Stewart White (Design Collective) Help is needed to build Unified Efforts Out of School Time Center

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Contributing Writer DennisWright, III

wasn’t up there I would’ve been mad. So I told one of my friends to go and look for me. When he came back he told me I made it with the second fastest time. I was relieved and proud of myself. That day after school we had practice. We worked on our chemistry as a team by practicing passing the baton. I ran first since I could get a fast start. We only had a couple of days of practice until the day of the race. This was my third time running at the Penn Relays. I’ve been running since sixth grade. So remembering that, I wasn’t that nervous. There were hundreds of people there making a lot of noise. Before the race my team and I did stretches to get our legs loose. My team came in second place because one of the team members dropped the baton. Participating in this race allowed me to learn how to stay focused in the moment and not let other things distract me. I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17 Page 27

Before participating in a sporting event, I watch motivational videos. I also listen to music. It helps me stay focused. For example, when I was in the eighth grade I ran in the Penn Relays for my school. To be able to run this race, I had to qualify for the school team. I also needed good grades to run or even be on the track team. It was like a competition to me. I had to try hard to get on the team because there were a lot of fast and smart kids who were also going for the spots. There were at least fifteen kids going for one of the four spots to run in the relays. First, we ran to see who had the fastest time. Then after that, we went home. The next day we got the results showing the four people that made the team. That morning I was scared to know if I made the team or not because I knew what I was going against. But I stayed focused. We got the results at lunch. The time leading up to lunch I was very nervous. The names were on a piece of paper on the wall. I didn’t even want to look because if my name


WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR? ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ Page 28

____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ Optimisms for 2017 ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________ ____________________________

I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

BLACK LIVES MATTER In my hometown of Baltimore, MD, the murder rate continually rises. A local rapper, Lor Scoota, popular with Baltimore’s youth and known for a very popular song called “Bird Flu,” was recently killed. His musical impact meant a lot to those who appreciated his musical style. Another black life ended unnecessarily. Another talent silenced. Too many parents have already lost their children to the streets. Parents are afraid that they will continue to lose more, so they hope this will stop. Clearly, there needs to be a way to stop the violence. My solution is for the whole city to gather up, come together, pray and protest peacefully. A question comes to mind, “Is it worse for a white police officer to kill a black man or for a black man to kill another black man?” Either way it is wrong. Black lives do matter. The black lives movement is an internationally positive movement that originated in the African-American community. We are all humans; nobody should hurt anybody. Unfortunately, that is just the way things are these days. Today’s troubled youth are in this predicament. Maybe, it is because of the things going on at home, or maybe because they never had someone to stand by them and show them right from wrong. (This work was composed by the writer in response to the social issues occurring during the summer of 2016; the killing of black men by both law enforcement officers and people from within the African-American communities themselves.)

Voices to be Heard

DOMINIK AYE STAFF WRITER I Belong Magazine.com provides a forum for our youth to have their voices heard, and to speak their truth without judgment, with the hope of finding peaceable solutions together . Page 29

I BelongMagazine.com Fall/Winter 2016–17

Following the Northstar heading our youth in the right direction!

Unified Efforts, Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization.

www.unifiedefforts.org Visit our website and click "Donate" Thank you! Donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law

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Design Collective is proud to support Unified Efforts in making the Penn North Youth Center a reality.

archi tecture planning inter iors landscape archi tecture graphi cs

601 east pratt street , su i te 300 balt imore , maryland 21 202 tel 41 0 . 685 . 6655 fax 410 . 539 . 6242

www. des i gncollect i ve . com

Maryland Legal Aid proudly supports Unified Efforts and the students who produce I Belong Magazine .

Maryland Legal Aid is a non-profit, private law firm that provides high-quality legal services to Maryland’s poor through a mix of services. Maryland Legal Aid also assists with criminal record expungements to remove barriers to obtaining housing and employment.

Learn more at www.mdlab.org

500 E. Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 (410) 951-7777 | www.mdlab.org

In Penn North, a former BPD detective pushes to build a new youth and community center By Ethan McLeod - December 17, 2018

Debbie Ramsey, founder of Unified Efforts, stands in front of the nonprofit’s Penn North property. Photo by Ethan McLeod. Neighbors once called it “The Plantation”—not with the grim historical undertone you might expect for the largely black community of Penn North, but with a more playful reference to the property’s exterior. The three-story home at 2521 Woodbrook Ave. is uniquely set back from the otherwise row home-lined street, and sports a Southern-style second-floor balcony out back.

It was owned by Thomas H. Miller and his family, white residents who had a number of homes in the West Baltimore neighborhood. “The big house,” says Annie Hall, president of the Penn North Community Association, who grew up nearby and went on to rent her first home from Miller. “That’s what we called it coming up.” Miller sold it in 1972, and it was later acquired by the city, land records show. For years thereafter, the lot between Francis Street and Woodbrook Avenue earned a new nickname: “The Cut,” says former Baltimore Police Det. Debbie Ramsey. The vacant site became overgrown and littered with trash, offering a suitable place for people running from the cops to dump their contraband or hideout. But after decades of neglect, Ramsey’s nonprofit, Unified Efforts, purchased the land from the city for $3,500 this past September. A month later, she and a group of volunteers cleared the grounds of litter, brush and other assorted debris. Neighbors have since helped maintain it by removing dumped trash, Ramsey says; they’ve told her it’s already a huge improvement from before. And if she can realize her vision, the lot will soon house a brand new building with classrooms, a computer lab, an indoor recreational area, a commercial kitchen, a garden out back and a retail storefront, ideally staffed by students to help teach them basic job skills. Space would be the permanent headquarters for Unified Efforts’ camps and after-school activities, which the nomadic nonprofit has offered to city youth since 2015. The organization seeks to broaden the horizons of children ages 5 to 17, and give them a place to be after school and during the summer. They’ve taken field trips to learn about aviation at Martin State Airport, firefighting at city fire stations and black history at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum downtown. Ramsey has brought them to see the Baltimore Blast play and to hit balls at the driving range at Pine Ridge Golf Course in Lutherville. Some activities focus on basic education and life skills: This past summer, Unified Efforts raised $7,500 to sponsor certified swimming lessons for 30 children at Coppin State University. Along the way, they’ve helped secure internships for high school students, offered them culinary classes and showed teens how to run their own print magazine, called I Belong , distributed annually by The Daily Record . Ramsey’s chief goal is to get kids “out of the line of fire,” she says. She cites her experiences seeing youth become entangled in deadly neighborhood strife during her 12 years as a city police officer, including in BPD’s Criminal Investigation Division and Drug Enforcement section. “If we can expose our children to new career paths, that will take off,” she says. “I’m not trying to make golfers or pilots or chefs out of them. I don’t know what’s gonna light them up inside. We try to give them an array of experiences.”

Simply getting kids out to other parts of town helps to expand their world, she says. An example: They took a trip this summer to Harbor East, where they visited Whole Foods and walked down to the water. One student observed young white people could walk in groups and not get stopped by police. “For him, that was a new optic. He could not believe—he said, They can walk in groups ?” After years of garnering trust from parents and support from neighborhood groups, Ramsey wants to cement Unified Efforts as a dedicated youth and community center with a brick-and-mortar home. The wheels are already in motion. Ramsey says she’s working with Humanim’s Details Deconstruction service to tear the “Plantation” house down. Demolition is set to happen within the next month. For her envisioned building, the nonprofit Neighborhood Design Center is putting together conceptual design plans, which Ramsey says should be ready in January. But to do all of this, the organization needs funding. Unified Efforts received a $30,000 grant from a 2016 state bond bill as initial capital, though those dollars haven’t been dispersed. (Ramsey plans to use that money to pay for Details’ scheduled demolition.) After applying unsuccessfully for $500,000 more in bond funding this past spring, the nonprofit is trying again. For 2019, newly elected 40th District Sen. Antonio Hayes has offered to sponsor a bill requesting $300,000, which Ramsey says would be used to begin building the new center. She’s applied for a $100,000 Community Catalyst Grant from the city as well and is pursuing other private funding sources. Somewhat bullishly, she says finding a property and earning the trust of families and the Penn North community has been “the hard part.” Now, she just needs to find the money. (She notes potential investors sometimes look at her incredulously when she tells them that.) Hall, who sits on Unified Efforts’ board, says she “can’t wait” for the nonprofit to get started with its own home base, “because it’s good for the community.” She met Ramsey in 2015 when the former cop had just begun working with kids after school. It was right before the Baltimore Uprising following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. “I thought, and I still do think, that it’s a great idea to have some kind of facility in this neighborhood that’s gonna cater to our children,” says Hall, who’s helmed the Penn North Community Association since 2004. “Unfortunately a lot of the kids in this neighborhood, their parents are out there and that’s unfortunate. But Debbie, she stepped in and she hasn’t stopped.” Sen. Hayes grew up in the neighborhood (and also happens to be Hall’s great-nephew). “That is a community where I’m from,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of activity, at least from a development

perspective, happen around Penn North, but not necessarily in Penn North.” Unified Efforts’ planned center “would definitely bring value added to a long-vacant property” in the locale, he says. Hayes and his Annapolis colleagues will decide on Dec. 19, this Wednesday, which causes to ultimately take up for bond bills. Legislators receive many requests from numerous organizations for bond funding, and there’s only so much money to go around, he notes. Ramsey is aware of the competition. “We just have to do our due diligence and we just have to ask like everybody else. There are a lot of wonderful programs going on in the city, and we’re just one of many.” And either way, she’ll still need to find another financing. She’s considering launching an online crowdfunding campaign through their website and hosting events to attract private donors. Ideally, she says, the money would come from people who are invested in Penn North’s success. “The baby boomer in me says, No, I have to go through all these hoops and loops, banks and lenders, capital improvement . But my hope is that it will be built by people who are just interested and want this to happen.” The endgame, she says, is creating a home base for Unified Efforts that gives kids a permanent place to go to be productive and safe, away from crime and violence. That alone will help to lift up the neighborhood, she says. “Job opportunities, safe and peaceable place for the children after school, career paths. We see ourselves really impacting this entire community with just our presence, starting out with the children.” Ethan McLeod Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets.

Colgate's Bright Smiles, Bright Future presented Unified Efforts with their 2019 "Exceptional Volunteer" Kid's Award Feb. 15, 2019 to Executive Director and Founder - Deborah Ramsey at the Marriott's Waterfront - Harbor East Baltimore, MD

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