Community Champion Award-Edith Gilliard-Canty

Edith Gilliard-Canty

Edith Gilliard-Canty has lived in the Baltimore area for most of her life and been president of the Franklin Square Community Association (FSCA) for more than 20 years.

FSCA is a nonprofit devoted to improving the quality of life in the Franklin Square neighborhood and increasing community awareness and engagement. Composed of residents, business owners, and faith and community leaders, the association meets monthly to discuss events, city services, and other issues that might impact the neighborhood.

Affectionately known as Ms. Edith, Gilliard-Canty also is on the board of directors of the Southwest Partnership and the West Baltimore Renaissance Foundation, a division of LifeBridge Health. Among her many activities in the community, she has facilitated back-to-school events, assisted Saint Luke’s Youth Center in writing grant proposals, and taken part in food distribution to senior citizens. She also regularly participates in classes and events at UMB’s Community Engagement Center.

“Ms. Edith has worked tirelessly to improve her community for many years,” said Camille Givens-Patterson, community partnership specialist in UMB’s Office of Community Engagement. “She listens to her constituents and does what needs to be done. She doesn’t seek the recognition.”

Gilliard-Canty grew up in Franklin Square, which is designated as a National Historic District and is centered around Franklin Square Park, one of the oldest parks in the city. Her family moved to New York in 1963, then she returned to Baltimore in 1975 to raise her family.

She is committed to making Franklin Square as tight-knit, welcoming, and safe as she remembers it from her youth.

“This is my home, so I would like it to be the way it used to be,” she said. “I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but I see it becoming what it used to be with all the families, the children, the shops, and everything building up in the community. So I’m here for the long haul.”

Her commitment is clear in that she has led FSCA for two decades, despite sometimes feeling discouraged by a lack of progress in improving the neighborhood.

“Have you ever started something and then got tired and said, ‘I don’t feel like being bothered with it anymore’? I’ve said that several times,” Gilliard-Canty said. “But then you persevere, and this other little voice comes in and says, ‘Do you really want to stop?’ And I say, ‘Absolutely not. This is my home.’ So I persevere, and I keep going.”