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The Children’s Home celebrates 150 years

Renowned jazz artist Maysa to perform

Stacy M. Brown | 10/18/2013, 6 a.m.
Singer, songwriter and Charm City native, Maysa Leak, has captured her first Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the song, “Quiet Fire,” from her CD, “Blue Velvet Soul.” She hopes that she walks away with the trophy when the Grammy Awards are broadcast on CBS on Sunday, January 26, 2014. Courtesy Photo: Clarke & Associates LLP

— The importance of the Children’s Home in Catonsville has not been lost on the young people the orphanage has assisted or the supporters who have lent their time, money and talents to ensure it has funding to serve those in need.

“I know times are tough right now and many people are reluctant to spend their money, but it is my hope that they open their hearts and wallets and continue to support the Children’s Home,” said renowned jazz sensation, Maysa, a Baltimore native who plans to perform during the 150th anniversary celebration of the state’s premier provider of short- and long-term residential treatment care for Maryland’s young people, ages 13 to 21, who are victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment or family crises and need structured and supervised care.

The 44-acre campus began as an orphanage for children abandoned during the Civil War. Today, officials there provide the much-needed care for many of Maryland’s underprivileged youth.

“If a child or youth is being abused by a parent or a stepparent, or neglect, which is a huge issue then the department of human resources steps in and takes custody of the child,” said Gail Lee, director of development at the Children’s Home.

“What we’ve found over the years is that children are left at home unsupervised and having to care for them. There are cases where drug abuse by the parents is an issue and there are cases in which the children are being cared for by a grandparent but it proves too much for the elderly person and they are turned over to us.”

Once an individual is admitted to the home, Lee says the immediate goal is to build up, serve and nurture them. “It’s a calm and peaceful place where they can relax. Then we stabilize their symptoms and establish a treatment plan,” Lee said.

The ultimate goal is to return the child to their home, if appropriate, or turn them over to a less restricted area or a foster care parent. At the Children’s Home, everyone is provided an education, recreation, and other skills all under one roof, all in an effort to build life skills to enable them to become productive citizens.

“I think of how fortunate the kids are that we have the Children’s Home to help them,” said Margaret Draper-Harris, the Children’s Home board president.

“In addition to the basic things, we provide a lot more programming, therapeutic counseling, equestrian and pet therapy for life skills and training and we assist older tenants in getting jobs,” Draper-Harris said.

Officials also are hosting a major fundraiser, called “Faces 2013,” for the Children’s Home to celebrate the 150th anniversary. The Friday, Oct. 25, event is scheduled to take place at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

About 400 people are expected in cocktail attire to gather for a gourmet dinner, fine wine and the performance by Maysa.

A silent auction featuring the artwork created by many of the at-risk children and youth living at the Children’s Home will be available as well as other items, Lee said.

The event’s theme is, “FACES of Change, Innovation & Talents.”

“We are not permitted to show the residents faces but what we’d like to do is express their thoughts, feelings, pain and hope through the artwork,” Lee pointed out.

Draper-Harris says that the money raised will help support a campaign to renovate the buildings on the campus, some of which are nearly 100-years-old.

Admission is $100 per person in advance or $140 at the door. VIP tickets, which include preferred parking, a catered chef presentation, and commemorative artwork, crafted by a resident and attendance at a private reception from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., are $150 per person. To purchase tickets or to receive sponsorship or volunteer information, call 410-744-7310 or visit: www.thechildrenshome.net.