As many of you know, some fellow veterans and I founded a nonprofit a few years ago called The 6th Branch. We use the skills and leadership of military veterans to execute aggressive community service initiatives. On October 1st, we launched “Operation:Oliver,” an indefinite commitment to Baltimore City’s Oliver neighborhood. Oliver is an area known for vacant homes, poverty, and crime, and as one of the filming locations of HBO’s The Wire.
Our mission is to completely revitalize this neighborhood through strategic community partnerships. Unlike traditional service projects that are “in and out,” we have permanently dug in to tackle the social problems that underlie the devastated appearance of the community and well-being of its residents. We have brought in hundreds of volunteers for major service projects in order to beautify the neighborhood, remove garbage dump sites, create green spaces by planting trees and flowers, and paint murals. We have ongoing “veteran patrols,” during which we simply have a presence that deters the overt heroin trafficking on elementary school playgrounds and parks. We are working with the police, housing developers, job retraining programs, after-school programs, and community organizations. We are applying the same tenacious, aggressive style that succeeds in combat operations to saving this neighborhood. Our overarching goal is to create a national model of a “Veteran Sponsored Community” that can be replicated.
Our efforts thus far have been featured on Baltimore Public Access TV25, BBC Radio 4 in the UK, The London Times, The Pentagon Channel and more. Unfortunately, the tremendous momentum in community involvement and media attention has not facilitated fundraising. We began Operation:Oliver with a $2500 Community Impacts Grant from the Home Depot Foundation, and a $2,200 sponsorship from Bridge Private Lending. This money was quickly spent acquiring the equipment needed to carry out our large scale projects. Ongoing expenses include the rental of pick-up trucks, roll-off dumpsters, portable toilets, and the purchasing of plants, paint, and other materials.
The 6th Branch has been able to carry out one of the most aggressive community service initiatives in Baltimore history with very little money, nobody on paid staff and no overhead costs. Our ability to build relationships and get the greater Baltimore community to be involved in the cause has helped us be so efficient. Unfortunately, this model is no longer sustainable. We have some immediate expenses and we do not have the capital on hand to make it happen. I would like to personally ask you to take a look for yourself at our website and the media coverage of Operation: Oliver and consider making a monetary contribution. We are also looking for business sponsors. The hardest part about operating a nonprofit is asking people for money, especially in a tough economy. But with a look at our accomplishments and considering we have no major budget and no overhead costs, we hope you will see that it is one of the most efficient and effective operations to support. Thanks for your time, consideration, and concern for the people of this forgotten community and the veterans that are helping them. Please visit www.the6thbranch.org to review Operation:Oliver or go directly to our donate page.
The 6th Branch