By Special to the AFRO
Bon Secours Community Works, an establishment that is part of Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the biggest health systems in the U.S., celebrated the grand opening of the Bon Secours Community Works Community Resource Center on April 26. The unveiling of the community center was commemorated along with Kaiser Permanente, the Anchor Group, elected officials and West Baltimore residents with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The state-of-the-art Community Resource Center was created by and for the West Baltimore community. The community center was designed with a focus on youth services. Its mission is to restore an essential community gathering space in the Boyd-Booth neighborhood that has been closed for decades.
“This center will be a safe haven not only for our youth but all residents of the West Baltimore community, it is our sincere hope that this center will help to address some of the social determinants of health and foster opportunities for wellness, mentorship and meaningful connections for all,” said George Kleb, executive director of Bon Secours Community Works. “We could not be more excited to open our doors today and celebrate this incredible milestone with the entire community.”
The Community Resource Center expands upon Bon Secours Community Works’ long-standing workforce development and financial services programs in the West Baltimore community by offering economic development such as financial education, as well as workforce development including job training.
A Community Job Hub from the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) is located inside the center, to assist residents seeking employment or looking to advance their career. The entire building has free Wi-Fi available to all, including walk-ins. Laptops will be available to check out and use throughout the building.
The center also features a special focus on youth services offering West Baltimore youth access to educational programming, wellness activities, and the return of after-school programming.
A basketball gym – an elementary-sized gym with striping for basketball and volleyball, and an art room – where formalized after-school programs and art-based workforce development programming will be available in this space, in partnership with local non-profits. The room will also be available for open hours and family workshops.
The community center will also have two multipurpose rooms available for reservation. To reserve a room, guests are encouraged to contact Bon Secours Community Works at Community_Works@bshsi.org.
The center offers a variety of walk-in and scheduled programming for both children and adults, to include:
- A health care training room offering free training for Certified Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Nursing Assistant (CNA/GNA) and Medical Front Office Technician (CMAA) certifications
- Yoga & fitness studios available for intergenerational physical activities and programs in a small, serene space
- A media library room available for walk-ins will include projector, desks, beanbags, books and more where community members can relax, work, or host formal educational after-school programs
- Recording studio – expected to open in the fall of 2022, the recording studio will initially be used for entrepreneurial mentorship programming targeted at opportunity youth involving audio engineering, music recording and music production
Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group partnered in 2017 to improve the health and quality of life of the underserved West Baltimore community and address inequities specific to the 21223-zip code. Over the years, these organizations sought invaluable input from members of the West Baltimore community through interactive planning sessions. There, residents were encouraged to share their ideas and opinions about the services they would like to utilize in the space.
In a community that has historically been affected by crime, substance abuse, poverty, chronic disease and a high mortality rate, this center has opened the doors for residents to take part in opportunities for those who seek positive change. The Community Resource Center is another tangible example of the many benefits this partnership has brought to the 21223-zip code community.
“At Kaiser Permanente, improving the health of the communities we serve is critical to our mission. Yet, we recognize that health comes from so much more than what happens in a doctor’s office or medical facility,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president, of Kaiser Permanente. “This Community Resource Center extends our commitment to addressing the social determinants of health by improving access to educational, economic and wellness resources for West Baltimore residents. Kaiser Permanente is proud to have invested more than $3 million in this partnership and to work with partners like Bon Secours Community Works to advance health equity for the more than 25,000 Baltimore residents living in zip code 21223.”
Joining the leaders and dignitaries at the grand opening were children and teachers from Franklin Square Elementary Middle School, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School and Frederick Elementary School; residents of Bon Secours Unity Properties housing; and local community members.
Throughout the day, community members participated in a wide variety of activities. Some of those activities included an open house which included tours of the center, interactive presentations, visual arts activities led by Art With A Heart, physical activities for children with the Boys and Girls Club, and performances and African drumming workshops by WombWorks. In addition, a time capsule was revealed that the community is invited to contribute to before it is sealed for the next 25 years.
“Bon Secours, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group have been wonderful partners to the West Baltimore community for many years,” said John Bullock, Councilman – 9th District, Baltimore City Council. “Thanks to the hard work of many, we are thrilled to see this collective vision come true. We look forward to seeing the residents of our great community take advantage of the services the Community Resource Center will bring to the area.”
Initiated through a partnership between Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group, the Community Resource Center was made possible by grants and donations from many generous organizations including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the State of Maryland, Under Armour, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, the City of Baltimore, France-Merrick Foundation, Bon Secours, and others.
The Community Resource Center is now open to all West Baltimore community members free of charge. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours may vary throughout the year and Saturday hours may be available for scheduled programming. In addition to the many amenities offered, community health workers will be available at the center to do intake assessments, handle case management and issue referrals as needed. Community members are welcome to walk in or sign up for organized programming which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members! Join here!