Bon Secours Community Works and Kaiser Permanente Unveil New Community Resource Center in West Baltimore

By Special at AFRO

Bon Secours Community Works, a facility that is part of Bon Secours Mercy Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, celebrated the grand opening of the Bon Secours Community Works Community Resource Center on April 26. The grand opening of the community center was commemorated with Kaiser Permanente, the Anchor Group, elected officials and residents of West Baltimore with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The state-of-the-art Community Resource Center was created by and for the West Baltimore community. The community center was designed with an emphasis on youth services. Its mission is to restore an essential community gathering space in the Boyd-Booth neighborhood that has been closed for decades.

“This center will be a safe haven not only for our youth, but for all residents of the West Baltimore community. We sincerely hope that this center will help address some of the social determinants of health and foster opportunities for wellness, mentorship and meaning. connections for all,” said George Kleb, CEO of Bon Secours Community Works. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to open our doors today and celebrate this incredible milestone with the entire community.”

The Community Resource Center extends Bon Secours Community Works’ longstanding workforce development and financial services programs in the West Baltimore community by providing economic development such as financial education, as well as workforce development, including vocational training.

A Community Employment Center from the Mayor’s Office for Employment Development (MOED) is located inside the center, to help residents seek employment or advance their careers. The entire building has free Wi-Fi available to everyone, including walk-ins. Laptops will be available to check and use throughout the building.

The center also emphasizes youth services providing West Baltimore youth with access to educational programs, wellness activities, and returning from after-school programs.

A basketball gymnasium – an elementary-size gymnasium with stripes for basketball and volleyball, and an art room – where formalized after-school programs and workforce development programs based on art will be available in this space, in partnership with local non-profit organizations. The room will also be available for open house hours and family workshops.

The community center will also have two multipurpose rooms available for reservation. To reserve a room, guests are encouraged to contact Bon Secours Community Works at [email protected]

The center offers a variety of walk-in and scheduled programs for children and adults, including:

  • A healthcare training room offering free training for Certified Nursing Assistant/Geriatric Nursing Assistant (CNA/GNA) and Medical Front Office Technician (CMAA) certifications
  • Yoga and fitness studios available for physical activities and intergenerational programs in a small, serene space
  • A walk-in media room will include a projector, desks, beanbags, books and more where community members can relax, work or conduct formal after-school educational programs
  • Recording Studio – slated to open in fall 2022, the recording studio will initially be used for entrepreneurial mentorship programs for young people of opportunity involving audio engineering, music recording and music production

Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente and Anchor Group partnered in 2017 to improve the health and quality of life of the underserved community of West Baltimore and address inequities specific to the 21223 zip code. Over the years, these organizations have solicited invaluable input from West Baltimore community members through interactive planning sessions. There, residents were encouraged to share their ideas and opinions on what services they would like to use in the space.

In a community that has always been plagued by crime, substance abuse, poverty, chronic disease and a high death rate, this center has opened the doors for residents to take part in opportunities for those seeking a positive change. The Community Resource Center is another tangible example of the many benefits this partnership has brought to the ZIP Code 21223 community.

“At Kaiser Permanente, improving the health of the communities we serve is central to our mission. Yet, we recognize that health goes far beyond what happens in a doctor’s office or medical facility,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president of Kaiser Permanente. “This community resource center extends our commitment to addressing the social determinants of health by improving access to educational, economic and wellness resources for West Baltimore residents. Kaiser Permanente is proud to have invested more than $3 million in this partnership and to work with partners like Bon Secours Community Works to advance health equity for the more than 25,000 Baltimore residents living in the zip code 21223.”

Alongside the leaders and dignitaries at the dedication were children and teachers from Franklin Square Elementary Middle School, Mary Ann Winterling Elementary School, and Frederick Elementary School; residents of Bon Secours Unity Properties; and members of the local community.

Throughout the day, community members participated in a wide variety of activities. Some of these activities included an open house which included tours of the center, interactive presentations, visual arts activities led by Art With A Heart, physical activities for children with the Boys and Girls Club, as well as performances and African drumming workshops by WombWorks. Additionally, a time capsule has been revealed that the community is invited to contribute to before it is sealed for the next 25 years.

“Bon Secours, Kaiser Permanente and Anchor Group have been wonderful partners in the West Baltimore community for many years,” said John Bullock, 9th District Councilman, Baltimore City Council. “Thanks to the hard work of many, we are thrilled to see this collective vision become a reality. We look forward to seeing the residents of our beautiful community benefit from the services that the Community Resource Center will bring to the region.

Initiated through a partnership between Bon Secours Community Works, Kaiser Permanente, and Anchor Group, the community resource center was made possible through grants and donations from many generous organizations, including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the State of Maryland, Under Armour, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America, City of Baltimore, France-Merrick Foundation, Bon Secours and others.

The Community Resource Center is now open free to all members of the West Baltimore community. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Times may vary throughout the year and Saturday times may be available for scheduled programming. In addition to the many amenities offered, community health workers will be available at the center to perform intake assessments, manage cases and issue referrals as needed. Community members are welcome to enter or register for curated programming to be announced in the coming weeks.

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