The Black History Month Community Leaders Awards recognizes Maryland-based, African American-founded organizations that provide volunteer service to improve Maryland communities for all. Recipients of the inaugural year of the awards program are:
Baltimore Ceasefire 365 (Baltimore City, Washington County) is a grassroots peace movement created to raise awareness about the high murder rate in Baltimore City, comfort families of the deceased, and reduce violent deaths in the city. The group makes a simple ask: For Baltimore City to be free of murder for 72 consecutive hours. This simple ask has transformed into ceasefire weekends in Baltimore with much success. On ceasfire weekends, the group organizes several life-affirming events and provides resources to help people avoid violent situations. And when a death does occur during a ceasefire weekend, the Ceasefire squad gathers at the site of the death to honor the dead. The most recent ceasefire weekend helped the city reach 11.5 consecutive days without a murder.
The Carolyn E. Parker Foundation, Inc. (Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties) began with the passionate belief that we all have a responsibility for each other during the most troublesome times. Through programs like the Annual Men Make A Difference Leadership event, middle and high school-age boys are provided with mentorship and encouragement to achieve their goals, while learning how to master valuable life skills. Another program, Weekly Workshop Wednesdays provides after school meals to girls and a host of engaging self-improvement events to broaden their minds on issues like cyber-bullying, mediation, self-defense, and college and career planning. The foundation has also raised funds for the Southern Maryland Alzheimer’s Association and March for Dimes.
Generosity Global, Inc. (Baltimore City) uses the power of generosity to help take people facing homelessness in Baltimore City from crisis to self-sufficiency. Its flagship program, Selfless Saturday, has provided haircuts, clothes, shoes, hygienic products, and meals prepared by volunteers to 25,000 homeless individuals for 74 consecutive months. The organization aspires to deliver a new program to the homeless called Generosity Shower, a mobile unit that would provide a private, relaxing, and safe place to shower for up to 150 people per day.
Inge Benevolent Ministries (Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties) operates to provide a safe haven for refugee families. The organization runs the Muslimat Al-Nisaa Shelter, the only shelter in the country exclusively for Muslim women refugees and their children, approximately 3,855 bed nights a year. In addition, the organization provides education on domestic violence and homelessness, and food, school supplies, and health services to families, youth, and the elderly.
The Kappa Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Prince George’s County) seeks to serve as a “voice” on social, economic, and civic issues for Prince George’s County residents left without a voice. The organization contributes over 15,000 volunteer service hours a year to the people and programs of Prince George’s County. Through programs like its annual college fair, the organization has given approximately 20,000 students the opportunity to learn about over 150 institutions, and has issued $300,000 in scholarships and supplies, since 2006. Through another program, Project Alpha, middle and high school-age young men build skills through obstacle courses, nature hikes, visits to historic sites, and presentations on topics like health and dating violence.
National Coalition of 100 Black Women Prince George’s County Chapter (Prince George’ County)seeks to promote gender equity and leadership development in the areas of health, education, and economic empowerment for Black women and girls. Through its various committees, the organization has collected teddy bears for children of domestic violence and established a clothing closet for domestic violence survivors; provided 1,200 Thanksgiving baskets a year to families in need; hosted health forums; and more.
New Antioch Church and Better Way Outreach Ministry (Baltimore City and Baltimore County) strives to serve as a beacon of light in the community. The organization provides food, personal care items, and inspiration to approximately 300 families per week and over 1,200 individuals a month. In addition, it hosts several annual programs, including Thanksgiving Dinner and Basket Giveaway for homeless individuals and the community, a Christmas event gifting 3,000 toys to underserved kids, and a welfare to work site with the Maryland Department of Social Services.
SHABACH! Ministries, Inc. (Prince George’s County), the community services arm of First Baptist Church of Glenarden, started over 20 years ago to empower youth, seniors, and families through education and community services. In 2017 alone, the organization provided over 560,000 pounds of emergency food, and clothing and household items to over 26,000 families and 91,000 individuals in need. In addition to these activities, SHABACH! Ministries trains students to obtain employment in order to help them build independence.
The We Cancerve Movement, Inc. (Baltimore and Harford counties) was founded in 2011 by then-seven year old Grace Callwood, a former patient and survivor of Stage IV Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, to bring swift solutions to homeless, sick, and foster children. The all-youth run nonprofit has helped over 4,000 children, donated over $10,000 in cash grants, and $35,000 in in-kind donations, including food and clothes, to youth, families, homeless shelters and transitional programs, hospitals, foster care groups, and more. An innovative project of the organization has been the establishment of a full-service clothing boutique at a foster care group home.
The Women Veterans United Committee, Inc. (Statewide) raises awareness about issues affecting women veterans to improve their quality of life. The organization helps women veterans attain quality health care and benefits services and advocates for cultural change in recognizing the contributions of all women veterans. With partner organizations, the Women Veterans United Committee has provided over 10,000 hours of volunteer service to support women veteran employment, wreath-laying, a breast cancer campaign, annual Christmas parties for senior and homeless veterans, and more.