By Reginald Allen II
Special to the AFRO
Founded in 1987 to support local homeless veterans, Baltimore Station had the challenge of supporting their residents in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. John Friedel, executive director of Baltimore Station, said the issue was their dormitory-style accommodations would pose a vulnerability during the pandemic.
Friedel said that they had to reduce their accommodations from 138 beds for men to 65 to allow proper social distancing. “We know that when you are in close proximity, spread can occur,” said Friedel, “So we felt we were self-limiting because of COVID.”
The Crowne Plaza Hotel was contacted and received a proposal that would benefit both parties. Baltimore Station received programming space and individual rooms for the residents and Crowne Plaza Hotel won’t have to furlough any workers due to inactivity. Friedel said, “We negotiated a rate that is difficult to make payments on, but to do anything else would be irresponsible.”
Stephen Scarborough, complex director of sales and marketing for Crowne Plaza, said that he is glad to work with Baltimore Station because it brings activity to the hotel. “The most difficult part is the ballroom and banquet/catering space,” said Scarborough, “We have not had any events in our conference spaces since March.”
Now that Baltimore Station is with Crowne Plaza, the ballrooms and banquet spaces can be used for Baltimore Station programs such as art classes, chair yoga and letter writing. Mr Wilder, a Navy veteran and resident since June 2020 said that the drumming program is very therapeutic and helps him forget about his troubles.
Wilder spoke highly of Baltimore Station for their work with him on getting re-established in the world. “The Baltimore Station has given me a second chance in life,” said Wilder, “The Baltimore Station opened my eyes. I came to the program with no identification, no social security card and definitely no self-esteem. The Baltimore Station has changed all of that for me.”
For more information about the partnership and Baltimore Station, visit their website www.baltimorestation.org.