“I learned a lot while working at St. Ambrose.”
Scroll down to read about the kinds of things Krista learned while working with us!
Welcome to the kickoff of our Virtual Past Intern/Volunteer Blog reunion-where past Interns and Volunteers will reminisce and shed some light into their time here at St. Ambrose. We’ve recently said goodbye to Michelle Zupanc, one of our volunteers, after months of hard work. Read what Michelle has to say about her experience below!
Summer jobs help propel teens into a productive future. Research shows that for each year teenagers work in high school, their income rises an average of 15% in their 20’s. Summer jobs for teens have been shown to correlate with a lower arrest rate, in addition to teaching lifelong lessons about responsibility. Despite these advantages, a multitude of factors have caused the share of teenagers who work during the summer to plummet since the 2000’s (NY Times).
This year, Baltimore responded to this issue by stepping up to support youth employment. State, city, and private funding poured into YouthWorks, the city’s summer jobs program, to enable all 8,000 youth applicants to be placed in a summer job this year, an increase from 5,000 last year. The uprising this spring sent a clear message to our city about the necessity of investing in our youth and providing them the opportunities to learn and grow through valuable employment opportunities. St. Ambrose offered our support to the program by sending staff over to the YouthWorks office this June to volunteer with necessary administrative tasks to ensure each youth could be placed in time for the program’s tight deadlines.
St. Ambrose welcomed our two YouthWorks summer employees last Monday to begin a summer of working and learning at St. Ambrose. Gary and Rochelle help with administrative tasks in each of the different departments at St. Ambrose giving them an opportunity to learn a little bit about each St. Ambrose program.
Rochelle is participating in her 4th year in a YouthWorks summer job. She will be a senior this fall at Lock Raven High School and her favorite subject is math. In addition to earning an income, she’s looking forward to taking some courses at CCBC this summer. When she grows up she wants to be a lawyer and own a small business on the side.
Gary just graduated from City High School and this is his third year participating in YouthWorks. His favorite subject is history, especially world and US history. He’s looking forward to getting some extra sleep this summer and enjoys walking around the reservoir in his neighborhood to clear his head. When he grows up he wants to be an animator.
Welcome to the St. Ambrose family, Rochelle and Gary!
St. Ambrose Legal Services has received an influx of calls from city residents who have been advised to add a relative’s name to their house deed. The common misconception is that adding someone to the deed will protect your home for your heirs. Below are five reasons why adding a loved one to your deed is not a smart way to protect your investment.
Adding a name to your home is risky. The safer alternative is to draft a Will that leaves your property to the person of your choice. Seniors in Baltimore City can get a free Will through the Bar Association of Baltimore City: 410-396-5277.
Joseph Butler recently purchased a newly renovated home from St. Ambrose in the Belair-Edison neighborhood. Fifty-seven years old and a first time homebuyer, Butler said that he was looking ahead to retirement and wanted something to call his own, “anyone can own a car, but a home- that’s something special.”
Mr. Butler is a particularly special first time homeowner for St. Ambrose because he is a former tenant with St. Ambrose Rental Services. He lived in St. Martin’s apartments in West Baltimore for seven years before purchasing his new home in Belair-Edison. As the first client who has both rented from St. Ambrose and purchased a St. Ambrose home, we sat down with Butler to inquire about his journey to homeownership.
This spring, “things just fell into place” for Butler, who had always dreamed of owning his own home. Although he admits that he had his doubts during the home-buying process. Things were moving slowly before the settlement and his patience was tested as he waited for the final approval to go through. Working with Denise Hairston, our in-house realtor at St. Ambrose, Butler finally went to settlement on Friday, June 12th, accompanied at the signing table by his proud father.
Through support from the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) based in Washington, DC, St. Ambrose offers closing cost assistance grants for first time homebuyers. This special funding helps us to bring new homeowners into Baltimore neighborhoods. Butler, however, was a special case. Because he was our renter at the time, a technicality prevented St. Ambrose from offering him the closing cost grant. But NFHA wouldn’t allow a small complication to prevent Butler from receiving this support. The last thing to fall into place for Butler was a grant check directly from NFHA to support his closing costs. Hairston’s advocacy on Butler’s behalf was critical in ensuring this benefit was accepted by the lender.
Butler’s advice to someone who wants to own a home is to “save money, be patient” and citing the old adage that so often rings true, “Rome was not built in a day.” He also recommends others to be proactive in addressing their credit issues. “Have an open conversation with those who you owe debts.”
Resilience and gratitude are two other factors that undoubtedly contributed to Butler’s success in achieving his lifelong goal. An army veteran from the DC area, Butler moved to Baltimore in 1998. Butler was honest and candid about his life’s journey. A former drug user, Butler went through rehab at Maryland Center for Veterans Education (MCVET) in 2000 and has been clean for 15 years. While living in St. Martin’s, Butler paid off all of his debts and sought assistance to help to repair his credit in order to prepare to take out a mortgage. “I am so blessed,” Butler emphasizes when he speaks of his journey to homeownership. His warm smile radiates his appreciation for life’s lessons and successes.
Mr. Butler works for the federal government as a security guard for the Smithsonian. He commutes to Landover, Maryland where he works an evening shift at the Smithsonian storage facility. He’s also worked at the American Indian, Air and Space, American History, and Natural History museums. Butler has loved the opportunity to learn from museum curators during his tenure at the Smithsonian. The American History Museum is his favorite, noting a Duke Ellington exhibit, JK Lilly’s historic coin collection, and the first ladies’ inaugural dresses. Another testament to Butler’s ethic, he actually left his position at the Smithsonian for several years and was successful in earning his job back- not an easy feat for a position in the government.
What is Mr. Butler looking forward to about his new home? For one, all of the appliances are brand new. The luxury of not having to worry about replacing the air conditioning, furnace, and kitchen appliances is peace of mind for a first time home buyer, and having his own brand new washer and dryer means he has the privilege of doing laundry in the comfort of his own home. Another amenity about his new home is that he can practice his saxophones (both alto and tenor) more freely than he could in his apartment. Afforded with both a front and backyard, he’s also looking forward to sitting outside and drinking coffee while he reads the paper.
When asked what attracted Butler to Belair-Edison in particular, he didn’t hesitate for a moment before responding, “It’s nice and quiet. Listen… all you hear is the wind blowing across the trees.” Indeed, nestled on a quiet street next to Herring Run Park, Butler’s new home is far enough from the bustle to feel at complete peace.
“This will always be mine,” Butler says with pride. “I am so blessed.”
Through support from MECU, the Foreclosure Prevention department recently initiated a brand new five-week financial education workshop series. The course was designed to be a financial coaching course where participants could learn how to make empowering financial decisions and invest in their future.
On the first night, participants were encouraged to make a short-term goal that they could accomplish by the end of the five week course. These goals spanned from finishing the course to saving more money, and from rebuilding credit to signing a contract on a house. All participants who finished the course felt that even if they didn’t achieve their goal during the five week period, they had made significant progress towards their goals and felt better equipped to make empowering financial decisions.
The lead financial counselor for the course, Denitra, commented that she really “admired that the participants were so focused.” One thing that she asserted after hosting her first five-week course was that learning how to make better financial decisions is a process, and all participants had unique moments and lessons that led them to a full realization about what could be inhibiting them from reaching their financial goals.
One lesson that seemed to be really influential outlined the impact of your credit score on your ability to get a good rate on a loan. Effective strategies to take control of your credit score and rebuild credit were also discussed. Participants also agreed that discussions about goal setting helped to form new financial habits.
But one of the most effective parts of this workshop setting was the community that participants built among each other. It wasn’t just the lessons that enabled attendees to gain ground towards their financial goals; it was the companionship and support network that participants formed with each other.
If you’re interested in participating in an upcoming “Invest in Your Future” workshop, contact Antoine Norris at 410-366-8550 x235
The St. Ambrose Legal Services department has compiled the following tips for what to do if you’re slipping towards foreclosure:
The threat of foreclosure can be intimidating, but being informed of your rights and responsibilities can make the process easier. Going through a foreclosure doesn’t mean losing everything. If you remain informed and proactive throughout the process you’ll be able to salvage the maximum amount of your investment. Find help, resolve the problem, and look ahead to life after foreclosure. Call St. Ambrose for free legal advice and foreclosure counseling: 410-366-8550