Thanks to local churches and nonprofits, there are signs things are getting better in Freddie Gray’s West Baltimore neighborhood.

"... on a sidewalk near Presstman Street and Druid Hill Avenue — once part of an expansive open-air drug market — Day was hosting an open-air crab fest. It was a small but significant sign of a neighborhood being transformed, a sense of community beginning to be reborn despite the social and economic problems that linger.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t do that, sit out front and eat, not in peace,” said C.W. Harris, a minister at Newborn Community of Faith Church in Sandtown who lives across the street from Day.

Harris had spearheaded many of the efforts that had made more than a few streets safe for such neighborly get-togethers. In 1996, he founded a community outreach nonprofit, Intersection of Change, which develops housing and community centers, a school and urban vegetable gardens to address what Harris called “food neglect” in the neighborhood.

“Our mission is the eradication of poverty,” said Harris, who was born in Sandtown in 1950.

The group began its work by renovating an abandoned house on the block where Day and Harris live and turning it into Martha’s Place, a recovery home for women who are homeless and addicted to drugs. Residents learn not only how to stay clean but also how to start their own businesses.

One former resident now operates her own bus transportation service.

“We try to look out for each other, especially the children and the elderly,” said Janet Hawkins Isaac, who completed a drug rehabilitation program at Martha’s Place..." --  Courtland Milloy, The Washington Post


Photo credit: Baltimore Heritage via Visualhunt / CC BY; Photographed: Former Lenox Theatre/Christ Temple Church in West Baltimore