Wow, 2014 is here already. It’s hard to believe that it has been a year since my first trip to Oliver. What a great year it’s been for the community and for T6B – amazing things have been accomplished and many new projects are underway. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of it.
A year ago, I was like most of you who are reading this post – just trying to keep up to date on all of the good things T6B has been up to. I remember the day I received the invite for the T6B MLK Day of Service in 2013. I thought to myself, “Yeah, I have time for that” which might I add, a single mother of two rarely ever says, EVER. But I went, best friend in tow, and I wasn’t at all prepared for the impact that it was going to have on me.
I got to see first hand the “urban decay” and “eyesores” that were used to describe the community in previous articles I had read. The neglect I witnessed was overwhelming and unbelievable. The impact that over 200 people had on this community in a matter of three hours was incredible and impressive.
Oliver was nothing like the community I had grown up in as a child. I can remember my father building tree forts, tire swings and half-pipes for us kids. I remember riding bikes all day and night, until the lightning bugs came out and our mother’s voices began calling us in for the night. I always felt safe and I always had place to play. Looking around Oliver on MLK Day 2013, it was clear to me that the children in this neighborhood were lacking those simple childhood joys and it sat heavily on my heart to realize that.
Two months later a call went out for volunteers to join T6B for a new service opportunity dubbed Semper Fridays. Under the guidance of the spectacular Briony Hynson, Oliver was about to get a new play area. I decided to go, except this time I went by myself and knew absolutely nobody there. Within five minutes, I met Dave Landymore, Briony and Meg Harnett, was given a can of paint, a roller and a task to accomplish. Their welcoming attitudes made the experience inviting and effortless. I met many community members as well, but the children of Oliver stole my heart. Their joy about the project was contagious. After just two Semper Fridays, the Bethel Street Playscape had become a personal commitment for me and I found myself manipulating my hectic schedule so that I could be there consistently every Friday. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it himself, “The time is always right, to do what is right”. I could not have said it any better – you never know when your opportunity to make a difference in this world is going to knock at your door. All you have to do is be willing to accept the challenge.
I had the hardest time writing this blog because I wanted to give everyone a concrete reason as for why I became a part of the T6B family. The truth is, I have many. Some are profound and they are what led me to following the organization initially. But the reasons that have been most anchoring are so simple and shared among every person who contributes. We realize that our community has great needs and we all obtain the push inside of us to assist in meeting those needs, faithfully. Somehow, through giving of ourselves and revitalizing the community, we are rebuilding our own foundations in life, we are gaining lasting friendships and learning about ourselves through each other. 2013 was a humbling and rewarding year and I, for one, am looking forward to starting 2014 with T6B’s MLK Day of Service.
I would like to encourage each of you out there to join us January 20, 2014 from 9:00am-2:00pm at Ambrose Kennedy Park in the Johnston Square Community. We will be cleaning it up, clearing it out and bringing it back to life. Another community here in Baltimore needs you, so dress warm and let’s show some love by getting to work.