Senseless Violence in Baltimore City – Getting People the Support They Need

Senseless Violence in Baltimore City – Getting People the Support They Need

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 470,000 homicides occur globally each year. If you take into account suicide and war-related deaths, the number rises to over 1.6 million violence-related deaths. Millions more suffer violence-related injuries and trauma. 

Some of the dominant risk factors for violence are social disruption, poverty, poor interpersonal dynamics, insecurity, societal acceptance, and power imbalance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the Social-Ecological Model to understand the factors that influence violence. This model shows that tragic acts of violence often rise from the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. 

Individual factors that contribute to someone’s ability to be violent include age, education, income, substance use, or history of abuse. When identifying relationship factors, one looks at how a person’s close relationships influence their behavior and contribute to their experience. Settings, such as schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods, create the community factors that impact someone’s tendency towards violence. To identify societal factors, one looks at social and cultural norms that support violence as an acceptable way to resolve conflicts. 

Many cities that face high rates of violence are finding a way to create safer environments. They’re implementing policies and strategies that encourage mentoring for young children that actively engage communities in building solutions, and that create effective, accessible mental health services. The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program has been called the “Boston Miracle” for its success in bringing their city’s youth homicide rate down 63%, and it’s being implemented in other cities around the world. Effective violence mitigation strategies include social involvement, poverty reduction, interpersonal skills training, education, awareness, and community support. 

Baltimore has seen more than its fair share of violence this year. How can we create a safer Baltimore?

At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we are doing our part to support our community by creating stability with proper housing, offering counseling and other programs to ensure success and relieve stress for our families and individuals. We also support our residents with continuing education for our staff by attending trainings like Mental Health First Aid.  Mental Health First Aid trains coaches, police officers, teachers, faith leaders and other caring individuals to look for signs of mental illness and how to respond with appropriate intervention strategies.

Senseless acts of violence can make us feel helpless, but there are ways that you can take action to prevent violence.

There is much that we can do in our cities and towns to build connection, caring and community. Citizens of all races and ethnic backgrounds can work together to make our lives better. Baltimore has a wide range of programs that offer mentorship and educational opportunities to our youth and disadvantaged citizens. 

You can volunteer your time and talents in a way that will create a huge impact on others. Programs like MBRT connect students with volunteers and mentors to ensure high school graduation and make college an option for everyone. You can donate money to an organization like Women’s Housing Coalition or the many Maryland Nonprofits that step in and assist people in the ways they need it most. 

Preventing violence is a civic responsibility, and only together can we translate individual good deeds into community change. 

Make a Difference on Giving Tuesday

Make a Difference on Giving Tuesday

This year, Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, 2019. This day is a time when communities, individuals, and organizations come together to raise awareness for the causes that matter to them. Giving Tuesday has surpassed one billion dollars of donations since its inception in 2012!

You can join the movement and help create change in your community.

The Women’s Housing Coalition needs your support to continue to create stability for families and individuals who are some of the 2,294 homeless citizens in Baltimore City alone. We are excited to have 5 new families joining us this year, but we need your help. 

There are many ways you can donate your time or money to support the Women’s Housing Coalition.

It requires $15,000 to support one person for a year. Your monetary donation on Giving Tuesday will help keep an individual or family in a safe home so they can thrive. You can also support the WHC monetarily by hosting a fundraiser on Facebook

With five new families joining us we need lots of household items like kitchenware and linens. You can purchase new goods for our families and make a donation to the Women’s Housing Coalition

Part of how we help people thrive is by giving them the right support including workshops on finances and career placement. If you have a special skill that you could share with our women, or you would like to bring some friends to help us maintain our houses, we would greatly appreciate you volunteering your time. 

There are many ways that you can have an impact on people’s lives and create change in your community. We hope you join us on Giving Tuesday! 

The Margaret J. Bennett House

The Margaret J. Bennett House

The Margaret J. Bennett Home opened in 1902 as a boarding house for women. Mrs. Bennett, widow of Francis Worthington Bennett, an auctioneer, died in 1900 with no children. Mrs. Bennett provided $150,000 in her will towards opening the house for women, which remained open into the 1970s.  

In the 1900’s a room and two meals daily started at $8 – $12 a week, then increased to $27.50 a week in the 1920s and housed females from 14 – 40  years old.   Some of the early house rules included:

o   No excessive use of cosmetics

o   No smoking

o   No advertising from the house

o   No bringing employment into the home

o   No alcohol

o   No food in the bedroom

o   No use of electric or gas

o   No oil appliances

o   Mandatory house meeting attendance

o   Guest visits were $1.50 per day 

o   Curfew started at 9:00 p.m. and moved to 11:00 p.m. in the 1920s

Today, the Margaret J. Bennett Home continues to serve women in Baltimore. The WHC took ownership of the building and celebrated its groundbreaking in 1999. It currently houses 30 individuals in 29 single room occupancies and 1 apartment. In 2016 a basement space was renovated to create a gym and cooking demonstration kitchen. At the beginning of 2019, the health suite that was first opened in 2011, but had not been used in recent years, was reopened with new occupants – Health Alliance Associates, Inc. They provide an integrated model of primary care, behavioral health, medication therapy management and peer recovery outreach for persons recovering from homelessness, mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and other traumas. Health Alliance has been a great partner to us, providing same or next-day appointments to any of our residents in need of their services, and to the community at large, as most of their patients are from outside our program.

At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we are grateful to our staff, patrons, and visionaries, like Mrs. Margaret Bennett, for helping us fulfill our mission to create stability for families and individuals with safe housing.

If the Margaret J. Bennett Home is also a part of your history, we would love to hear about it. You can email slong@womenshousingcoalition.com to share your story as part of our upcoming 40th anniversary. 

Hops For Housing Fundraiser

Hops For Housing Fundraiser

We would like to thank everyone who came out and supported the Women’s Housing Coalition at our  5th annual Hops for Housing fundraiser. We had 116 guests join us at the Peabody Heights Brewery for music by the Ed Lauer Band, brewery tours, and great local beer and food.  The FUNdevelopment Committee raised $9,154 in support of our vision to end the cycle of homelessness for those we serve. It was an amazing evening with friends – new and old. We are grateful to Dietz & Watson for being our city sponsor, making some baskets up for our basket raffle, and donating the delicious sandwich wraps.

Everyone enjoyed cookies by Insomnia Cookies and cupcakes donated by Fluffy Factory as we waited to see who won the amazing items donated by local businesses in our raffle.

Items for our other raffle baskets were donated by – A Tradition of Excellence Auto, Pure Fiji, Bow Tie Willie, Posh Plate Catering Company, American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, Blacksauce Kitchen, Mouth Party Caramels, The Baltimore Whiskey Company, Earth Treks, B&O Railroad Museum, Liberty Mountain Resort, Annie Howe Papercuts, Maryland Film Festival, Well Crafted Pizza, Radebaugh Florist, Core Power Yoga, Baltimore in a Box,  Wockenfuss Candy Company, The Charmery , Blue Pit BBQ, and Melissa Supik and friends.

We are excited to support 5 new families before the end of the year.  Through the Hops for Housing fundraiser, we are able to care for one family for 6 months!

We depend on donations and events like this to continue to create stability for individuals and families. Without the support of you and our sponsors including Whiting Turner, Harkins Builders, Veolia, T. Rowe Price, The Lichter Group LLC, Two Point Studios, and Riverside Advisors, LLC. we could not make this event happen. 

We are already looking forward to next year! 

The Margaret Jenkins House Has Been Serving Baltimore Since 1889

The Margaret Jenkins House Has Been Serving Baltimore Since 1889

In 2008, WHC opened the Margaret Jenkins House, a 22 unit single-room dwelling for individuals experiencing homelessness to have permanent supportive housing.

This house, though built by Phillip Hanson Hiss as his personal home in 1868, has a long history of serving the children of Baltimore.

In 1889, Mrs. Margaret Anne Austin Jenkins, Mary Hebert, Mrs. Etts, and Cardinal Gibbons of the Baltimore Archdiocese observed that poor children were being abandoned at daycare centers. This prompted them to raise money to purchase the mansion on Maryland Avenue to be used as an orphanage. It was called St. Elizabeth’s School and included dorms and classrooms set up by Franciscan sisters. 

Though the affluent neighbors of the surrounding estates did not support the presence of the orphanage, Cardinal Gibbons worked to soothe their concerns and keep the orphanage open. He directed the sisters to build a wall around the home’s garden and fill the site with a chapel and expanded quarters.

By the 1920s, the orphanage took on the name St. Francis School and part of the building was converted to a convent of Franciscan sisters.

In the 1950s, the orphanage was repurposed to again serve the community as a day nursery for black children. The space had yet another transformation as the St. Francis School for Special Education to serve the mentally handicapped, for whom there were few options.

When the St. Francis School for Special Education moved to Argonne Drive, near where the Franciscan Sisters live now, the building was renamed the St. Elizabeth’s School.

In 2007, the Women’s Housing Coalition along with Homes for America, had the opportunity to purchase the building which continues to serve the citizens of Baltimore as the Margaret Jenkins House.