Giving communities across the Baltimore City more than just a day of food and games, the “Day of Hope” festivals hosted by Somebody Cares and the Eastern District Transformation team are quickly turning into a Baltimore institution.

Aiming to uplift a community that has been rocked by the deaths of both Sean Johnson, 12, and Monae Turnage, 13, the celebration will come to the Darley Park and South Clifton on July 28.

“This has been one of the toughest and hardest hit neighborhoods over the past year,” said Major Melvin Russell, commanding officer of the Eastern District and leader of the Transformation Team. “This is a community that is never looking for anything and they will be in a position to appreciate it more than anyone else. It has the ability to effect every member of the community.”

The popular festival will be held from noon until 4:30 pm and will offer a variety of free entertainment and free events for all ages, as well as informative sessions to better community and self.

“Saturday will be a huge day and no one will be able to deny that there has been a resurrection in this community,” said Russell. “Hope is alive and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Russell said this year’s celebrations have increased the “air of excitement” because more partners offered their services this year. “Across the board we had complete dedication and more buy-in from the churches and different businesses,” said Russell.

Thus far, five “Day of Hope” celebrations have taken place with the help of many local companies, civic leaders, and everyday citizens looking to take a vested interest in their community.

“There will be HIV screening, a job fair, 60,000 pounds in groceries given away, and the best part is that everything is free,” said Pastor Matt Stevens of Somebody Cares Baltimore. “New York Life will be present to do child identification kits, there will be an arts and crafts section, and theatrical and choir performances.”

Previous locations of the festival include Bocek Park, at the corner of East Madison and Edison Highway, and Madison Square Park, at North Caroline and East Eager Street. On June 30, Collington Square Park enjoyed a Day of Hope celebration for the second time in a row.

“Darley has been through a lot, but we’re hoping this will push the community forward because they’ve been working hard,” said Stevens, who is lead organizer for “Day of Hope” and a member of the Transformation Team. The organization is a group of churches, community leaders, and residents relentlessly working to turn around their neighborhoods.

Other activities offered include information sessions for homeowners with questions about mortgage payments and loans. Renters looking to own can speak with realtors and financial planners and residents can also set up appointment times for a follow-up one-on-one advisement session.

Though every single activity and service offered is free of charge; wherever the “Day of Hope” festival travels, donations are still needed to take care of production costs and fees.

For more information, to donate funds, or sign up to volunteer, please contact Pastor Linda Harvey at443.562.0093 or lmj2010@aol.com

 

Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer