Ralph E. Moore Jr.

By Ralph E. Moore, Jr.

Within the past 40 years, we built two expensive quality stadiums– Oriole Park and Ravens Stadium–  for wealthy team owners and we closed down recreation centers in the city for lack of funding. 

Despite the best efforts of Baltimore City Public Schools leadership, the school system still struggles to give a quality education to each of its students.  And why isn’t YouthWorks year-round for our young people who need and want to work beyond the summer months? Money is needed all year.

A recent, sad murder on a squeegee corner by a 14-year-old has the city’s attention on young people again. But we, Baltimoreans, have been wandering in the desert over how to make life better for children and youth for the past 40 years. It’s past the time to take the young to a city of real promise for them.

Some thoughts: What can the major banks in Baltimore do to give back to the residents who need the most help? Anything? 

Why not get jobs for those squeegeeing who are over 18 years old first?  Let’s return to squeegee kids only on those corners until we figure out what exactly to do with them.

And why doesn’t BGE train a local group consisting between 200 and 300 men and women to work on emergency weather situations such as severe hurricanes and severe thunderstorms that knock out power to thousands of homes, sometimes for days at a time?  Bringing in up to 2,000 utility workers from other states for storm recovery seems awfully odd to me when so many here need jobs.

 A subset of recovery workers composed of trained local people, hired for emergencies, would be cheaper, I bet there’s no need to put so many out of towners in hotels. Someone should figure this out.

And what became of young people mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and picking up litter for pay?  Keep the shovels, brooms, rakes, etc. in a centrally located tool bank or two or three, secured with a modest deposit. Think odd jobs, organized and maintained as a program. There may be work to be done by young people right under our noses. This is not a brand new one, just an old one left by the wayside.

And In Case You Missed It (ICYM):

About 37 years ago, a squeegee kid from the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore was struck by a truck and a car near the St. Paul Street and Mount Royal exit of the Jones Falls Expressway. Sadly, he died.

I worked for St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center in Johnston Square at the time from an office in St. Frances Academy.

He was a nice kid whose family lived across the street from the Oblate Sisters of Providence in the St. Frances Academy Convent on Brentwood Avenue. He was eight years old when he was killed in the accident.

Before the Community Center was built, JB was around. I was able to recruit him and others on Election Day in 1979 to help the Rent Control Campaign urge people to get out and vote for rent control. I was assigned to work in the East Baltimore area. Taking them block to block, I had JB and the others wrong doorbells and knock on doors to nag folks to get out and vote.

The referendum in favor of Rent Control in Baltimore passed that year which the landlords sued and a judge threw it out eventually. JB and the other kids who worked were delighted to hear their efforts paid off.

Suffice it to say, as long as we can look at children and youth as people, Baltimore will be alright. Children of all ages need our love, respect, attention and direction.

Linda Loman, Willie’s wife, said it best in Arthur Miller’s play, ‘Death of a Salesman’ when she warned, “Attention must be paid…”

We must commit as a city to building our children up and not tearing them down. Children and youth are gifts to us but they need work: some assembly is required.

But the whole Baltimore community is a work in progress. Let’s keep working on young people’s needs.

Save the children.

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