As communities across the country celebrate April as National Volunteer month, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced details about a new comprehensive volunteer plan called stepUP! Baltimore that will leverage volunteer service as a strategy to address the most pressing challenges in Baltimore’s communities including drug addiction, vacant lots, and youth violence.
stepUP! Baltimore was developed with support from a Cities of Service Leadership Grant. Baltimore is one of only twenty cities across the country to be awarded the grant from Cities of Service, a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have committed to work together to engage citizens in a multi-year effort to address pressing city needs through impact volunteerism. The coalition includes more than 100 mayors, representing more than 49 million Americans across the nation.
stepUp! Baltimore will be implemented during the summer with oversight from Chief Service Officer Vu Dang, and will focus on these Volunteer Plan Strategies:
• Recovery Corps will create a trained city-wide corps of 100 volunteers who themselves have sustained recovery from drug addiction and who will provide support to individuals in treatment and recovery. Recovery Corps will build bridges between these individuals and the larger Baltimore community through shared volunteer service activities. Recovery Corps volunteers will be recruited starting this spring, trained in the summer, and placed in their assignments in the fall.
• Power in Dirt will implement changes to make it easier for community volunteers to revitalize vacant lots in some of the most blighted areas of the city. The Power in Dirt initiative builds on already existing community efforts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Vacants to Value initiative to revitalize vacant lots by creating new opportunities for dedicated residents to get involved in beautifying their neighborhood.
• The Supper Club will bring adult volunteers together with young people who are in the juvenile justice system to share regular meals and conversation. Their meals will take part in a safe and supportive environment. Young people who participate in Supper Club will be given an opportunity to become volunteer mentors.
• Baltimore CARES will develop two multidisciplinary service-learning curricula whereby students in two pilot schools will revitalize a vacant lot and address the challenge of addiction in their communities. Once developed and implemented, the curricula will be made available to other schools, organizations, and programs seeking to increase student learning and civic engagement.
"Baltimore is filled with agents of change,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. "In each person and in every corner of our city, from the least to the most likely of places, we are the agents of change who give back, who help, who volunteer to make our city better, safer, and stronger. Now more than ever we need to tap into our volunteer resources.”
Residents interested in taking part in stepUP! Baltimore can visit www.stepup.baltimorecity.gov. Individuals can view and download the full stepUP! Baltimore plan, learn more about its volunteer initiatives—which will launch in the summer—and find additional volunteer opportunities around the city.
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