Melanie Townsend Diggs (left), manager of the Enoch Pratt Library Pennsylvania Avenue Branch, with Carla D. Hayden, CEO Enoch Pratt Free Library. (AFRO/Photo by Kamau High)
When the riots began in Baltimore on April 27 following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Melanie Townsend Diggs, manager of the Enoch Pratt Library branch at the epicenter of events at Pennsylvania and North avenues, was working in the library. As the crowds began to form outside there were about 20 people in the library.
“My memory goes back to the young people who were here that evening. I told them, ‘Stay together. Don’t go in that direction of everything that is going on. Go around. If you have to take the long way home, take it today,’” she said.
Diggs made her comments as part of a ceremony at the library on June 1 announcing the recipients of 23 grants from the United Way of Central Maryland. The Enoch Pratt Library Pennsylvania Avenue Branch will get $25,000 to expand their summer programming for children as well as provide food for those children.
Other organizations receiving funds include the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, the Center for Urban Families and Camp Farthest Out.
One of those organizations is Fusion Partnerships’ Power Inside Community Trauma Initiative. Jacqueline Robarge, its director, said their grant would be used to counsel members of the community.
“When folks have been harmed they have symptoms of distress. There are social conditions that can cause this such as poverty, racism, violence or even hearing about violence. We give people a safe space to talk about it,” she said. “You can’t expect people to go out and look for a job if they’re depressed or frightened.”
The full list of grant recipients from the United Way of Central Maryland is:
- Beloved Community Services Corporation, $25,000 to support and expand their Male Mentoring Program at Union Baptist Church
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Chesapeake, $25,000 to support mentoring matches for youth in at-risk communities in Baltimore City
- Bon Secours Community Works, $25,000 to expand services for youth and young adults, including summer employment, parent trainings, and re-entry programming for young ex-offenders
- Camp Farthest Out, $25,000 to support Camp Empowerment 2015 summer programming for youth ages 6-12
- Camp Farthest Out, $23,000 to support the Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts’ summer arts and literacy programming for middle school students
- Center for Urban Families, $25,000 to support their Workforce Development, Baltimore Community Healing & Civic Engagement Pilot program
- Child First Authority, $21,000 to support summer academic and cultural enrichment programming for students at John E. Howard Elementary School
- Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc., $6,000 to support emergency transportation needs of residents living in the affected neighborhoods
- Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, $20,000 to support youth empowerment programming at the Druid Heights Community Center
- Enoch Pratt Free Library, $25,000 to expand summer programming for children at the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch
- Flight 1 Carriers, $25,000 to support their weekly distributions of fresh produce and meats, personal care products, and housing supplies to seniors in zip codes 21215, 21216 and 21217
- Fusion Partnerships’ Power Inside Community Trauma Initiative, $20,000 to expand their existing trauma interventions in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood
- Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, $25,000 to support summer enrichment programming for middle school girls from communities impacted by the recent civil unrest in Baltimore City
- Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, $25,000 to support job and resource fair events in West Baltimore designed to connect with the residents of zip codes 21215, 21216 and 21217
- Job Opportunities Task Force, $25,000 to support their Project JumpStart Program, a job-training program for Baltimore residents with a high school diploma or GED
- Maryland Food Bank, $10,000 to support their food relief efforts in zip codes 21215, 21216 and 21217
- Maryland New Directions, $25,000 to support their Youth Job Readiness Program for individuals under 25 years of age
- Middle Grades Partnership, $23,000 to support summer programming for middle school students from Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School
- Parks & People Foundation, $25,000 to support youth programming
- Reading Partners, $23,000 to support their one-on-one literacy tutoring program expansion into Matthew A. Henson Elementary School
- The Salvation Army of Central Maryland, $10,000 to support their FeedMore Mobile Feeding Program that provides hot, healthy meals, as well as toiletries, to the affected areas of Baltimore City
- YMCA of Central Maryland, $25,000 to support the Druid Hill Summer Enrichment Program for children and youth ages 5-13
- YouthWorks, $30,000 to support the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development youth summer jobs program