SSW's Promise Heights Program Spreads Holiday Cheer In West Baltimore
During three days of activities in West Baltimore, residents and volunteers from the University of Maryland campus in Baltimore came together to enjoy holiday festivities and help the less fortunate. The outreach was organized by Promise Heights, an initiative of the University of Maryland led by the School of Social Work (SSW) that serves the neighborhoods of Upton/Druid Heights.
In the first event, 84 families were invited to a recreation center on Pennsylvania Avenue to receive hams, turkeys and trimmings from the professional football player who wears No. 84 on his purple jersey. The families responded by wearing plenty of purple to meet Baltimore Ravens wide receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh, who signed autographs and handed out toys. He donated the goods through the team's community relations program.
The Dec. 21 occasion also was an opportunity to spread the word on infant health. The B'more for Healthy Babies program, in which Promise Heights participates, displayed signs and distributed tips to parents. Attendees were selected by the Baltimore Department of Social Services and the Family League of Baltimore City, Inc. Upon signing in to meet Houshmanzadeh, representatives of each family got a list of community resources to improve the well-being of their households and tips for keeping newborns safe.
"Alone. Back. Crib. No exceptions," the ABCs of safe sleep, was the motto on a poster board and on refrigerator magnets furnished by the B'more for Healthy Babies campaign as part of the first wave of an education.
A partnership among the Family League, the Baltimore City Health Department and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, the program combats infant mortality throughout the city and especially in three city communities. One is Upton/Druid Heights. There the Healthy Babies program is a collaboration involving the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (SOM) and SSW.
Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, executive director of Promise Heights and SSW assistant dean, continuing education, was among those interacting with the families along with Yvette Rooks, MD, CAQ, FAAFP, assistant professor, Family and Community Medicine Department of the SOM; and Kevin Keegan, president and CEO of the Family League.
Houshmanzadeh is shown in the photo, top right, with Rooks, left, Mayden, and Monica Weathers, an administrative assistant in the SSW.
Promise Heights has established a base of operations at Furman Templeton L. Elementary School (FT), which is attached to the recreation center and whose staff members and a young student also were present to help staff members of the Baltimore Ravens give away the food and toys.
FT, which next year will become a charter school called Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy, became the center of festivities on Dec. 22. Students and teachers staged an open house for parents and visitors including six members of the education committee of the Baltimore Women's Giving Circle. In every classroom, from kindergarten to fifth grade, it was International Day. Children sang and gave presentations on countries from Haiti to Ireland.
Later at a holiday meal for FT students and their families, servers included SSW Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, and his wife, Nancy Dickinson, PhD, MSSW, a clinical professor in the SSW; David Flinchbaugh, SSW assistant dean, development and alumni relations; Michael Woolley, PhD, MSW, SSW associate professor; Anna Tatro, MLS, Health Sciences and Human Services Library liaison to the SSW; and Elsie Stines, MS, CPNP, project director in the UM Office of the President.
On Dec. 23, the festivities took place in the late afternoon at nearby McCulloh Homes, where Promise Heights Executive Director Mayden distributed hats, gloves, and scarves collected at the SSW and by members of the UM Office of Research and Development to children from the area.