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Men in Action offer brighter future for Park Heights

Wendy Gordon | 7/12/2013, midnight
Park Heights residents attend a workshop held in the Towanda Recreation Center. L-rear, Edward Pitchford, Center for Urban Families, R-rear Broderick Young, Young Consulting.

— The Park Heights community celebrated Father’s Day with performances, grilled food and family. The festivities, which also included a marching band leading residents down Reisterstown Road to the Towanda Recreation Center, also served as a celebration of future redevelopment for the Park Heights community.

As children and families enjoyed the festivities, the men worked earnestly in fatherhood empowerment and financial literacy workshops, presented by Broderick Young of Young Consulting and Edward Pitchford from the Center for Urban Families. Cheo Hurley, vice president of Real Estate and Economic Development for Park Heights Renaissance said, “We’re refurbishing and renovating the Park Heights Area. Our main focus is on both capital development and human development.”

The Pimilco Community Development Authority created Park Heights Renaissance in 2007. Park Heights Renaissance is working in partnership with Baltimore City and Comprehensive Housing Inc., to build a new 60-unit, low-income housing, senior residence on Pimlico Road that is set to open in December 2013.

Also underway is a massive rehabilitation effort that includes removing abandoned buildings and rehabbing 50 homes in the master plan area.

For the past three years, the organization has focused on human development, building development and providing opportunities for the community to take advantage of affordable housing, forgivable loans for home improvements, tax credits, and other revitalization.

In partnership with the Restoring Life International Church, and its outreach group Men in Action, these partners have been engaging men, to help them make a difference in their families and communities. Ray Nelson, a member of Men in Action and owner of Refresh Salon and Spa said, “I grew up in this area and my heart is here.” He added, “It seems this has been a forgotten area, which is why we wanted to get involved, help organize and begin empowering the community.”

In addition to the earlier workshops, the men meet every Monday evening at Refresh Salon for sessions of “Real Men, Real Talk,” where they counsel and advise each other about topics including relationships, jobs and community responsibilities.

“It’s about healing and wholeness, we’re letting these men know that they matter and they’re accountable,” Nelson said. “We want them to be engaged in their communities with their families.”

The Towanda Recreation Center also offers after school programs and youth mentor and leadership programs that are available to the community weekdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. To volunteer or to find out how you can become involved visit: www.boldnewheights.org.