Bon Secours Community Works, along with Kaiser Permanente, the Anchor Group, elected officials and West Baltimore residents celebrated the grand opening of the Bon Secours Community Works Community Resource Center in West Baltimore today with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The state-of-the-art Community Resource Center, specifically designed by and for the West Baltimore community with a focus on youth services, will restore an essential community gathering space in the Boyd-Booth neighborhood that has been shuttered for decades.
The Community Resource Center will expand upon Bon Secours Community Works’ long standing workforce development and financial services programs in the West Baltimore community by offering economic development such as financial education, as well as workforce development including job training. The center also features a special focus on youth services offering West Baltimore youth access to educational programming, wellness activities and the return of after school programming. The center is located at 31 S. Payson Street, Baltimore, Md. 21223, which was formerly home to the Hollins-Payson Branch Library before it closed in 2001.
Offering a variety of walk-in and scheduled programming for both children and adults, the community center will feature:
- Art room – formalized after school programs and art-based workforce development programming will be available in this space, in partnership with local nonprofits. The room will also be available for open hours and family workshops.
- Basketball gym – an elementary-sized gym with striping for basketball and volleyball, this space will be used for after school healthy lifestyle programs, walk-ins, and sports tournaments, including a basketball summer league with hopes to add cheer and dance in the future.
- Financial wellbeing center – this space will be used to expand Bon Secours Community Works’ financial education classes, eviction prevention services and tax preparation services.
- Health care training room – this space will offer free training for Certified Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Nursing Assistant (CNA/GNA) and Medical Front Office Technician (CMAA) certifications.
- Job hub – this space will be a Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) Community Job Hub, where residents can seek help finding and advancing their employment. The space, and the entire building, will have free Wi-Fi available to all, including walk-ins. There will also be laptops to check out and use throughout the building.
- Media library room – available for walk ins, this space will include a projector, desks, beanbags, books and more where community members can come to relax or for a quiet space to work. This space will also host formal educational after school programs focused on STEAM, graphic design and other community-identified services.
- Multipurpose rooms – the community center will have two multipurpose rooms that are available to be reserved. To reserve a room, please contact Bon Secours Community Works at Community_Works@bshsi.org.
- Recording studio – expected to open in fall 2022, the recording studio will initially be used for entrepreneurial mentorship programming targeted at opportunity youth involving audio engineering, music recording and music production.
- Rooftop garden – fundraising efforts are underway to bring this project to fruition in the coming months.
- Yoga and fitness studio – small, serene space available for intergenerational physical activities and programs.
“This center will be a safe haven not only for our youth, but all residents of the West Baltimore community. It is our sincere hope that this center will help to address some of the social determinants of health and foster opportunities for wellness, mentorship and meaningful connections for all,” said George Kleb, executive director of Bon Secours Community Works. “We could not be more excited to open our doors today and celebrate this incredible milestone with the entire community.”
Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group partnered in 2017 to improve the health and quality of life of the underserved West Baltimore community and address inequities specific to the 21223 zip code. Throughout the years, these organizations sought invaluable input from members of the West Baltimore community through interactive planning sessions, where residents were encouraged to share their ideas and opinions about the services they would like to utilize in the space. In a community which has historically been affected by crime, substance abuse, poverty, chronic disease and a high mortality rate, this center will open the doors for residents to take part in new, creative and most importantly, safe opportunities for those who seek positive change. The Community Resource Center is another tangible example of the many benefits this partnership has brought to the 21223 zip code community.
“At Kaiser Permanente, improving the health of the communities we serve is critical to our mission. Yet, we recognize that health comes from so much more than what happens in a doctor's office or medical facility,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president of Kaiser Permanente. “This Community Resource Center extends our commitment to addressing the social determinants of health by improving access to educational, economic and wellness resources for West Baltimore residents. Kaiser Permanente is proud to have invested more than $3 million in this partnership and to work with partners like Bon Secours Community Works to advance health equity for the more than 25,000 Baltimore residents living in zip code 21223.”
Joining the leaders and dignitaries at the grand opening were children and teachers from Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School and Frederick Elementary School, residents of Bon Secours Unity Properties housing and local community members. Throughout the day, community members participated in an open house which included tours of the center, interactive presentations, visual arts activities led by Art With A Heart, physical activities for children with the Boys and Girls Club, and performances and African drumming workshops by WombWorks. In addition, a time capsule was revealed that the community is invited to contribute to before it is sealed for the next 25 years.
“Bon Secours, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group have been wonderful partners to the West Baltimore community for many years,” said John Bullock, councilman – 9th District, Baltimore City Council. “Thanks to the hard work of many, we are thrilled to see this collective vision come true. We look forward to seeing the residents of our great community take advantage of the services the Community Resource Center will bring to the area.”
Initiated through a partnership between Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente and the Anchor Group, the Community Resource Center was made possible by grants and donations from many generous organizations including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the State of Maryland, Under Armour, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, the City of Baltimore, France-Merrick Foundation, Bon Secours and others.
The Community Resource Center is now open to all West Baltimore community members free of charge. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours may vary throughout the year and Saturday hours may be available for scheduled programming. In addition to the many amenities offered, community health workers will be available at the center to do intake assessments, handle case management and issue referrals as needed. Community members are welcome to walk in or sign up for organized programming which will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more than 30 years, Bon Secours Community Works has been an anchor in the West Baltimore neighborhood, working to further the mission of the sisters of Bon Secours by providing programs, services and affordable housing designed to improve the social determinants of health and uplift West Baltimore residents and families. In addition to serving as the owner and operator of the facility, Bon Secours Community Works will also utilize the Community Resource Center for various programming throughout the year, including its financial services programs, health care training program, a summer youth works program and the Clean and Green program.