Welcome to the St. Ambrose Family

The St. Ambrose family is always growing. And every member, from clients to staff to followers like you, is important. We wanted to take this chance to introduce a few of the new faces around St. Ambrose and say a little about the work they are doing.

Anita ASAM_0680lexander, Homesharing 

Anita joined the Homesharing team just a few weeks ago. She retired from her position as an Education liaison with the Salvation Army Booth House Shelter in July 2017, but decided to continue pursuing her passion of working in human services. She is dedicated to working with those experiencing homelessness and is eager to elevate homesharing as a viable option for those facing housing insecurity. Anita has been married for 40 years, and has 3 wonderful children plus 6 beautiful grandchildren.

 

20180312_105253_1532015456015Deborah Riddick, Rental

Before coming to St. Ambrose, Deborah worked for the State Department of Human Resources as a Personnel Budget Officer. In her new position working with our Rental Services Department, she will be helping St. Ambrose convert our database to a new and improved program that will help keep all our information on our rental homes organized and easily accessible. In her position, she has been able to get a more comprehensive view of all that St. Ambrose does, and enjoys learning about the impact the organization has on the community with its variety of programs.

Headshot Maureen

Maureen Hartshorn, Legal Services

Maureen is about to begin her third year as a Law Student at the University of Maryland. In her studies she has focused on Property and Environmental issues, and is looking forward to learning more about the cases St. Ambrose takes on. In particular, she is interested in the foreclosure prevention and mediation process. She has been working with us full-time during the summer and will stay on to aid our department part-time after her classes begin. Before joining our team, Maureen worked in journalism. As an editor, she was inspired by reading the stories of people making a positive impact on the city and decided she wanted to be part of the action. She also is a big fan of the Ravens!

 

Tim Darby, Esq., Legal Services

One of the newest additions to the St. Ambrose team, Tim is a graduate of Cornell Law School. He earned his undergraduate degree at American University.  Before coming to St. Ambrose, Tim began his career working as a Law Clerk for Judge Paul Goetzke. Housing issues hold a personal importance to him, so he is excited to be working for an organization that takes a focus on such work. In his spare time, Tim likes to fish, play guitar, and play with his cats.

 

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Aigburth’s Solar Upgrade

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GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic , a non-profit organization that makes solar power and job training accessible to under-served communities, and volunteers from Constellation energy installed a 90kw cost-saving solar energy system at Aigburth Vale last week.

GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic is able to provide the solar energy system with the support of Constellation.  Savings from the system will help fund ongoing renovations to preserve Aigburth Vale as affordable senior housing.

Built in 1868 by architects Niensee and Neilson as a country home for actor John E. Owens, the historic Aigburth Vale mansion was turned into affordable senior housing in 1999 by St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center and our partners.

The 90 kW solar energy system, which will offset common area energy usage, will result in approximately $15,000 of savings on electrical bills annually. The savings will help St. Ambrose provide the 70 residents with multiple improvements to each unit, including new kitchens, handicap accessible bathrooms and new HVAC units, as well as upgrades to the common areas, including a new roof, common area furniture, floors, gym equipment, computers, a back up generator and elevator upgrades.

The solar energy system will prevent 2,347 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere, and is the equivalent of planting over 50,000 trees.34165992135_26aba9b219_z.jpg

On April 20th, 20 volunteers from Constellation came to help with the installation of the solar panel system. The day kicked off with an announcement of the project and a celebration with stakeholders and sponsors.

 

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Congressman John Sarbanes praised St. Ambrose for the development and preservation of Aigburth Vale over the last two decades and discussed how the partnership that enabled the solar panel installation at Aigburth Vale should be used as a model in communities across the country to help further the impact of solar energy.

Councilman David Marks commented on the importance of appreciating local history and the environment as well as effective partnerships as three components of a thriving community.

Other speakers included Gerard Joab, executive director of St. Ambrose, Bill Rubin, director of rental services, Nicole Steele, executive director of GRID Alternatives mid-Atlantic and Gary Fromer, senior VP of distributed energy at Constellation Energy.

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Left to right: GRID staff member, Nicole Steele, Congressman Sarbanes, Gerard Joab, Gary Frommer, Councilman Marks, Jane Wilson

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Pictures by GRID Alternatives and St. Ambrose

Summer Learning at St. Ambrose

When summer rolls around, many college kids are eager to be free of commitments and head to the beach. These students, however, wanted to do something more meaningful with their time. Here are four students who are spending their summer interning with St. Ambrose.

Tasayeh Nickens,

Housing Development Intern

Tasayeh goes door-to-door in Belair-Edison, conducting surveys and collecting valuable opinions and impressions from community members about Belair-Edison.

Tasayeh heard about St. Ambrose from a friend who interned here last summer. “She was able to connect me with  Jill, who found me a position.”

DSC_5719She knew St. Ambrose would be the perfect fit. “I did my research about St. Ambrose and found what they really did interesting and very positive things for the community. I really like what they value; rehabbing homes, that’s something I’m really interested in. It really helps people who aren’t as able to purchase homes.”

Her favorite part about her internship is “being able to interact with the people in the community and hearing what they have to say about what’s going on in the city.”

During the school year, Tasayeh attends University of Alabama, where she studies social work. “I plan on becoming a licensed, clinical social worker, and I plan on working at a hospital doing medical social work. I also want to get my masters degree in social work and public health.”

Tasayeh feels that her experience at St. Ambrose is giving her a taste of the social work field “because they’re advocating for the people and the community.”

DSC_5719 (2)Courtney Watkins,

Law Clerk

Courtney works in the Legal Services Department and drafts deeds, conducts crucial legal research, and connects clients to attorneys.

Courtney plans to become a lawyer through her studies at University of Maryland  Francis King Carey School of Law. Because of her interest in housing law, a career development coach directed her to St. Ambrose. I don’t think I could have gotten the same experience elsewhere.”

“I really like that in public interest you have more hands-on work than say, at a big firm where you’re just doing legal research. I really like the experience that I get to be doing the work myself rather than just whispering in an attorney’s ear something that I found online.”

She’s trying to figure out what kind of lawyer she wants to be. “There are still so many avenues I want to explore. That’s why I’m really excited I’ve gotten to try out family law this summer.”

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Karly Horn,
Homesharing Intern

Karly personally follows up with each Homesharing client to ensure their satisfaction and is helping the department go paperless.

She recently spoke with someone who was first matched with their homesharer nearly 15 years ago. They now consider their homesharer “part of the family.” Karly’s favorite part about her work with St. Ambrose is “hearing what the program I’m part of is doing for people.”

At University of Richmond, Karly is majoring in leadership studies and minoring in history. An alumna suggested she intern at St. Ambrose, thinking it would provide her with the perfect experience. Karly structured her own interdisciplinary program for the summer, incorporating 4 internships. “I wanted to see how nonprofits are structured.”

Karly is still trying to determine her career path. “I want to help people, I just don’t know in what capacity yet.”

Maegan JamesSAM_0131

Resource Development Intern

Maegan collects stories from clients and staff alike to share for St. Ambrose’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

She connected to St. Ambrose through her summer fellowship, Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program. “I grew up in Baltimore and have seen firsthand how housing issues can affect members of our community. St. Ambrose drew me in because they do so much to provide homes for people, making our city stronger as a whole.”

“I love that every day I hear firsthand stories from clients whose lives have been changed by the amazing people at St. Ambrose.”

Maegan hopes to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation. She knows that she wants to dedicate her life to public service, but is unsure what direction it will take her. “I know that whatever I do, I’ll always look back at this summer and think about the valuable skills I learned here at St. Ambrose.”

 

St. Ambrose Welcomes our YouthWorks Summer Employees

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 and NHS of Baltimore volunteers with YouthWorks staff
St. Ambrose and NHS of Baltimore staff volunteers with YouthWorks staff

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

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

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!

Baltimore City Youth Works Program

Written by Kenyatta

My name is Kenyatta and I am a Baltimore City High School student. Through the Baltimore City YouthWorks program I have been working at St. Ambrose Aid Housing Center this summer. My first project has been working and assisting the staff of Fundraising Department.   I feel achievement when I complete a project I am given and learn more about St. Ambrose and the different elements of it. I never knew there was more work to housing besides helping people live in reasonably priced homes. I always wondered, “How does the organization for housing find the money to change the look of run down or old homes?”

During my first week in the Fundraising Department, I learned that it takes structure, organization, and appreciation to make the things happen, provide the tools we apply to succeed and thank the people who have donated. I feel more appreciative because I am a part of changing other people’s lives for the better. I do plan to one day intern here or even volunteer for a year because I enjoy the structure and opportunity to make a difference.

I have helped the staff by giving part of my time and effort to display proof of our work represented in newspaper articles. I feel others would appreciate and believe that St. Ambrose is doing more than just giving someone a place to live, they’re giving them a home. The stories and emotions I hear from clients that don’t know what other things go on beyond finding the right home is incredible. To hear that I was a part of someone’s life who didn’t know it but helped them to smile and have a better tomorrow, it made me proud and happy to do something special.

I’ve also worked in the Rental Department and have learned how big St. Ambrose is. They have various properties that I’m proud to share that I learned about while sorting files and learning about each location. I’ve learned about ways of getting my own place by looking through different programs and what areas or people to contact. I have also learned about the different types of clients St. Ambrose can help or even direct for referral service.

I’ve enjoyed this experience with a lot of hard hours and focusing on my goal to make my projects excellent. I think everyone can gain a little more knowledge from helping others no matter what the organization is. I believe people can grow, like I have, from this experience and can incorporate more into their daily life. Helping people and change is what makes life better and more joyous. I do hope more people can look at my experience here as a sign of something worth doing and something great.

Summer at St. Ambrose: Sustaining Community Connections

For a few days during the week, I work at St. Ambrose. In the morning and evening as I walk to and from the revitalized row houses that are St. Ambrose, I am most often greeted by someone who is going to work, returning home, or unwinding on their front porch. This exchange brings to mind an image of affability that seems to be a remnant of my parents’ generation.

I am always surprised when I talk to my peers, who should feel that life is at its peak, that they truly feel lonely and disconnected. It is the irony of my generation, that with more means of communication than any previous generation, we are lacking an intrinsic sense of connection. As I simultaneously visualize these two generational images – neighbors greeting one another from their porches, verses individuals posting updates of their locations and activities on the internet – it seems clear that the significance of verbal communication and face-to-face connection is eroding. With this erosion of face-to-face interaction and connection is a loss of community.

During the past couple of weeks, I attended several St. Ambrose events. One weekend, I went to St. Ambrose’s picnic at Herring Run Park, which celebrated the revitalization of 137 homes in the Belair-Edison neighborhood. St. Ambrose homeowners and community members in the Belair-Edison area, as well as St. Ambrose staff were able to eat, dance, and socialize. Last week, I joined numerous community development organizations in saying goodbye to the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC), and reflecting on the work the organization completed in revitalizing and recreating neighborhoods to be safe, livable, cared for, and attractive.

These events are significant because they exemplify the building of community. The idea of community is a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. I am convinced that fellowship is a product of personal interaction, and that these celebrations of accomplishments encourage fellowship by recognizing the fulfillment of shared goals.

The St. Ambrose Legal Department is partnering with Community Law In Action (CLIA), an organization that works with youth to build them into leaders who will help transform their own communities. St. Ambrose attorneys are participating in the Corporate Mentoring program of CLIA. In this program, high school juniors and seniors are involved in many activities, one of which involves site visits to a Baltimore office, once a month. During these Mentor Days, students work on advocacy projects under the supervision of an attorney, participate in conversations with speakers about college, careers, and the legal profession, have mentoring sessions to work on SATs and college applications, and visit Annapolis.

In partnering with CLIA, St. Ambrose is continuing its mission of community development by engaging with a generation of young community members. The attorneys and students interact in a space that reconciles the goals and attitudes of both an older and younger generation. Gaining experience, attending college, and participating in community advocacy is part of individual and community development in the present, but CLIA is also involved in preserving the importance of face-to-face communication, interaction, and connection.

Phillip Westry, an attorney at St. Ambrose and a past director of the CLIA Youth Connection Program, describes the significance of mentoring as, “filling in a gap”. Phillip explains that students are able to gain the information and experience needed to more firmly establish their own educational and career goals. The personal connection and interaction that is also a part of mentoring, founds a base of support, encouragement, and connection, allowing young people to explore with confidence. As CLIA exemplifies, connection and community need not erode with every passing generation, if today’s community leaders and builders continue to include an ideal of affability within and among generations and people.

Summer at St. Ambrose: My Introduction into St. Ambrose

As a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, I am slowly becoming more cognizant of the vast range of responsibilities that accompany entrance into adulthood. The “college life” allowed for an extended period of youth, wherein everything from living and eating, to a gym membership was simply waiting for me: I did not have to figure life out, I simply signed up. So now, as I am preparing to attend law school, get an apartment, start repaying loans, find transportation for navigating the city, buy and prepare food for myself, etc., I realize that I cannot just sign up; I have to figure out exactly what I am signing up for. One fundamental need that adults must figure out and sign up for, is homeownership or renter-ship, as having a secure refuge is intrinsic to subsistence and well-being. I, in my extended youth, have taken for granted the reality that having a space that is a home, is the product of a complex process, and furthermore that the security a home is expected to provide may be confounded by the insecurity that the processes of home owning and renting are disposed to.

Over the summer, I am interning as a legal assistant at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, a community-based nonprofit organization that focuses on providing housing opportunities and assistance to people living in the surrounding neighborhoods. The legal department of St. Ambrose specializes in providing representation for foreclosure mediation as well as advice on legal issues that may be encountered throughout the process of owning a home. During my first few days here, as I have listened to the attorneys discuss cases, witnessed meetings between attorneys and clients, performed intake calls where clients describe their housing issues, and observed mediations in which an individual attempts to save her/his home, my vocabulary has been flooded with terms whose meanings and significance were previously foreign to me. My ignorance of terminology such as foreclosure, mortgage, equity, title, deed, affidavit, short sale, under-water, loss mitigation, modification, bankruptcy, and so on signaled my lack of understanding of what it means to own a home, retain that ownership, and what happens when that ownership is compromised or threatened.

My ignorance of home-owning, could be attributed to a number of explanations, including the naiveté of youth; whatever the cause, however, the basic question for myself and others who are similarly uninformed is, how do I become educated about home owning, retention, and loss, so that I can figure out what I am signing up for? From whom do I learn what the intricacies and jargon of home owning processes actually mean and require of me? Where do I learn what and when I am entitled to assistance or protections? Follow me on this blog series, “Summer at St. Ambrose”, as I participate in the culture of St. Ambrose, learning not only the answers to housing questions, but also the variety of ways in which St. Ambrose influences community strength by helping to form a foundation of informed and stable homeowners.