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A ‘True Heart’ saves Liberty Recreation and Tech Center

Stacy Brown | 11/22/2013, 6 a.m.
Kim Trueheart Courtesy Photo

— When Baltimore City officials attempted to close the Liberty Recreation and Tech Center earlier this year, Kim Trueheart, an activist who helps to run the center, would hear none of it.

The center, which serves as many as 150 children each day in various after school programs, was among the 20 recreation centers targeted by the mayor’s office for closure.

“My greatest joy is seeing people come together and work to solve a problem,” said Trueheart, a retired federal program manager in the U.S. Navy’s research and development field who is committed to helping the city’s youth. Trueheart also has proven gallant in her efforts to hold the government accountable to its citizens.

“I’m just thankful that people see what we’re doing here at the center,” she said.

Among those taking notice are officials at the Ray Lewis Family Foundation, the

11-year-old nonprofit organization headed by the former Ravens great which regularly provides assistance to disadvantaged Baltimore youth and families in distress.

The foundation has chosen the Liberty Recreation and Tech Center as the location for its annual Thanksgiving Giveaway.

“The holidays can add extra pressure to families living under the poverty line, which is why the foundation is here to help those needy families who oftentimes go without a Thanksgiving meal,” foundation officials said in a statement. The meal giveaway is scheduled for Tuesday, November 26 at the center, located at 3901 Main Avenue in Baltimore.

Trueheart says that 500 families will benefit from the generosity of the foundation, up from 300 a year ago. “It is a beautiful thing. The foundation people came here, did a walk through and looked at our facility and we’re absolutely excited that they choose us,” she said. While foundation officials will handle the bulk of the registrations for the 500 families, the Liberty Recreation and Tech Center will handle 100.

“We will reach out to churches and other places to see who is in need,” she said.

Officials say that Baltimore City has one of the highest poverty rates in Maryland, and Trueheart and others said some local families have desperate needs, including a warm meal and some company to share the holidays.

“The holidays are a time for togetherness. When there are so many families that are struggling to make ends meet, it puts an extra emphasis on community support,” said Lewis, the hall of fame-bound former linebacker, who helped the Ravens win two Super Bowl championships.

“Working together and establishing great partnerships, has allowed our foundation the opportunity to touch so many lives and hopefully make this winter and [the] holidays a memorable one for the families involved.”

For Trueheart, the holiday giveaway counts as just another notch in the belts of all of those who worked hard to keep the center afloat. She says that centers like Liberty are investments and city officials have a responsibility to make sure that they are successful.

“I grew up in Baltimore and when I served in the military, I got to see from afar the things that were happening here,” Trueheart said. “Things weren’t right and I knew it could be better. The things I benefited from I want to make sure that the youth today can benefit from as well.”

Through the hard work of Trueheart and others, the center began receiving grants for its programs that have helped it to thrive.

Ultimately, the goal is to make the center a comprehensive community resource, she said. “I think I’m a natural facilitator, a coordinator,” Trueheart said. “What I bring to the table is the ability to get people together. I’m certainly not the only one rolling up my sleeves. I need other folks to come join me, whatever the issue might be.”

For more information about the Liberty Recreation and Tech Center, including the Thanksgiving Giveaway, call 410-396-0954.