Scene & Heard: Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
( Photo by Colby Ware, Special to The Balitmore Sun / June 6, 2010 )
Who knew the Walters Art Museum's sculpture court could make such a great shopping mall? Tables were set up around the periphery of court, where folks browsed products like toiletries and accessories. All the while, they sipped cocktails, enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and caught up with friends.
But this was much more than a sales party. This was the annual fundraising celebration for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Baltimore, a program that helps low-income middle and high school students learn how to create their own businesses.
"We are so excited," said Patricia Granata Eisner, NFTE executive director. "This is the big party [where] they get to show off all their businesses. They really get to be entrepreneurs."
At one table, Tyaisha Cherry, 13, and Candice Webb, 15, offered their Sassy Body Lotion. Next door, Alexander Hobbs, 15, explained how his product, Ezeey Breeze organic air freshener, came to be.
"My mom actually came up with it when I was a baby. I was allergic to regular air freshener," he said.
Across the room, Pamela Banks, National Academy Foundation High School teacher, perused the jewelry on the table of Jazzmin Mullen, 17.
Longtime mentor Raymond Lucas, retired IBM manager, watched the scene with a smile.
"This [evening] is an awesome capstone to events that have gone on through the year. I've watched these kids transform."
"We have an NFTE program at my school," his friend Rosalyn Carter, academic dean of Heritage High School, added.
Kevin Lynch, 1st Mariner Bank senior vice president, and Wade Barnes, 1st Mariner Bank assistant vice president, had worked as a mentoring team with the program.
"Jamal and I are friends on Facebook," said Barnes, referring to his mentee, Jamal Willis.
In fact, it was hard to know who was more excited by the evening, the students or the adult guests, who included folks like board chair Hassan Murphy, Baltimore Community Foundation President Tom Wilcox and Turner Development President Patrick Turner.
"Last year was our first experience. We were very impressed," said Eileen Jirsa, Berkshire Elementary School nurse, explaining why she and husband Bob Jirsa, McGladrey partner, had come to the event again this year.
"It's such a confidence builder for [the students]," he said.
Four-year board member Jim Kucher couldn't have been happier.
"I love it. It's a great cause and it gets better every year. It's a good night in Baltimore. There are so many good things happening in Baltimore, and this is one of the best," he said.
-- Sloane Brown