Imagine walking into a room of 200 women and feeling as if each one of them could become your new best friend. That’s how we and recent Co-Chair Peggy Schapiro felt as we met our fellow philanthropists at the national leadership forum sponsored by the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmaking Network (WCGN) the weekend of March 12-14. Since we became Circle Co-Chairs we have been speaking about the importance of connections with our members, our grantees and our community. At the conference we experienced the power of connection at an entirely different level.
Members met March 22nd, at a new venue, the Chizuk Amuno synagogue on Stevenson Lane for the third Full Circle meeting of the year. The engaging and dynamic speaker was Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS), since July of 2016.
Cindy Williams, ED of Loving Arms, never planned to run a shelter for homeless and runaway youth. At a conference on Park Heights Revitalization in 2006 she heard a disturbing statistic: the most recent “Point In Time” count to calculate the number of homeless on any given day found more than 300 homeless and runaway youth in Baltimore. After watching a young man spread blankets on the street late one snowy January night, she decided to act. With initial funding from Family and Youth Services Bureau Ms. Williams and her husband, Darroll Cribb, started Loving Arms, the only emergency shelter that specifically serves runaway and homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 24 in the state of Maryland.
It was “the time they gave me,” Ms. Charleatha Cherry said. The time to figure out what happened “out there” to bring me ”in here.” “Out there” is homelessness; “in here” is MCVET, the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training Inc., a new BWGC grantee in 2016. MCVET ‘s mission is to provide veterans, particularly those who are homeless, with comprehensive services to help them re-enter their communities as active and productive citizens.
The first class of sixth grade girls who enrolled in 2009 at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW, pronounced "Bliss") graduated in 2016. These young women were the pioneers at one of the newest public charter schools in Baltimore and this class had a 100% graduation rate and college acceptance.
The adage “a hand up, not a hand out” couldn’t be truer for the women entrepreneurs of the Maryland Capital Enterprise (MCE) Women’s Business Center.
Part of the Circle’s mission has always been to educate our members and to help connect them to local non-profit organizations in ways other than financial. Whether it’s joining the board of a local non-profit or volunteering time to mentor or tutor, the exposure the Circle provides to a vast number of community organizations has proven to be an important pipeline to service for many of our members. Read the stories of our members connecting with grantees, below.