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Full Circle Meeting

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 | The BWGC

The last Full Circle meeting of the 2016-17 year was held at Chizuk Amuno Synagogue.  The main order of business was to hear from the five organizations that were eligible for a two-year grant as they received the most votes at the April grants meeting.

As described above, the Circle Values Statement was formally adopted at the May 17 meeting.               

Since this was the last Full Circle meeting of the 2016-17 year, members of the Steering Committee, both those remaining in office, those newly elected and the outgoing committee co-chairs, were recognized.

New officers will be:                          
Eileen Toohey: Treasurer
Martha Cukor: Assistant Treasurer

New Committee Co-chairs will be:
Mara Braverman: Grants
Pat Lasher: Post-Grants
Jen Yeagle: Membership
Susan Talles: Education
Renée Gordon: Communications
Francine Krumholz: Nominating

Anita Pomerantz, outgoing co-chair of the grant committee, introduced the representatives of the five organizations competing for a two-year grant. Each had ten minutes to profile his or her organization and describe how a BWGC grant would benefit their organization and the community.

Connie Crabtree presented Baltimore Outreach Services, one of only four Baltimore City shelters for homeless women and children.  It provides unlimited shelter, food and comprehensive services for 250 homeless women and children per year. The grant money would support an expansion of their Culinary Jobs Program, preparing women for jobs in the food service industry with a goal of long-term self-sufficiency. To this end, the program also offers life skill classes, health, mental health and placement services and support for up to three years. New this year is an internship program that leads to greater job security.

Kathleen Weiss talked about the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland, founded in 1998 by a Hopkins cancer researcher. The organization has trained 500 formerly unemployed persons, 73% of them women, who are now working in 45 different businesses that span a spectrum of businesses that regularly test their products. The training prepares them for jobs that pay a living wage (average wages increase by 160%) and career advancement opportunities.  The Institute offers wrap-around support services, helps with transportation and child-care and coordinates with other organizations, such as Vehicles for Change. They have a good placement and 12-months retention rate.

Amy Roza heads the Goucher Prison Education Partnership, which enrolls 50 incarcerated women in Goucher College. Although many first earn a GED while in prison, their college GPA is 3.29, not only higher than the national college average, but also higher than the average of students on the Goucher campus. This is a testament to the determination and dedication of these women.  Earning college credits while working full time at a prison job not only gives them hope and new belief in their own abilities, but inspires their families, especially their children.  Participation cuts the recidivism rate by 43%, makes them more employable and promises higher lifetime earnings.

Kevin Feldt represented Health Care for the Homeless (HCH). The number of homeless families and especially children has doubled since 2011, while government programs to support this population are in danger of being eliminated or decimated. The number of homeless children in Maryland now exceeds those seen during the Great Depression. In response HCH has extended its reach by establishing outposts in shelters and manning mobile clinics that can reach people across the city.  The goal is to create an “eco-system” of support, including care for high-risk women, a greater investment in behavioral health, and linkages with support services as well as emergency and transitional housing.

Mary Rode, representative of St. Vincent De Paul of Baltimore, spoke about Sarah’s Hope Family Shelter. It is a 24-hour family shelter, which sheltered 159 families with 354 children last year. The average stay is 90 days. Since a renovation in 2015, Sarah’s Hope can offer intact families a home-like environment. It has on site wrap-around services for adults and children covering health care, life skills, finances and education.  63% of its clients transition to permanent housing within three months and almost all have an increased income by the time of discharge.

All members present at the May 17 meeting were eligible to vote.

Wrapping up the meeting, co-chair Jodi Dunn announced three upcoming events: a Circle Forum about sex trafficking on June 1, an Advocacy Wrap-up session on June 14 and a presentation by Dr. Wen, Health Commissioner of Baltimore City, on June 22.   Invitations will go out in a timely manner. She reminded members that while everyone is invited to participate in the many activities of the Circle and the committee work, making your membership contribution makes possible our grants to support women and their families.