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Greater Homewood honors those who help 'transform Baltimore'

Mission is 'to continue moving the city forward'

By Larry Perl, lperl@tribune.com

12:34 PM EST, November 13, 2013

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Amanda Ruthven is a tireless volunteer in the Harwood neighborhood within Charles Village.

Baltimore City Planning Director Tom Stosur, of the Roland Park area, is leading the city's rewrite of the comprehensive zoning code for the first time in 40 years.

Ana Castro, of JRS Architects, Inc., redesigned the interiors of Margaret Brent Elementary and Barclay Elementary/Middle schools in Charles Village.

And Larry Reed overcame substance abuse to earn his Graduate Equivalency Diploma through the Greater Homewood Community Corp.'s Adult Learning Center this past spring.

Greater Homewood honored those four among others as "Baltimore transformers," at its annual awards dinner Tuesday night at Loyola University Maryland.

"This is a roomful of people who are transforming Baltimore in one way or another," Greater Homewod Executive Director Karen Stokes told an audience of about 200 people in the Loyola student union.

"We've made a huge amount of progress," said guest speaker Fred Lazarus IV, president of the Maryland Institute College of Art and chairman of the Central Baltimore Partnership, who works closely with Stokes. Lazarus said the goal of Greater Homewood and the partnership is "to continue moving the city forward."

Greater Homewood  works in 45 neighborhoods" and is active in education, workforce development and literacy, among other areas.

Ruthven, 28, was honored as Volunteer of the Year and was cited as a "catalyst for change" in Harwood, where she said violent crime has dropped 70 percent and children often ask her when she will be planting trees as part of a community greening effort.

Reed said he failed the Graduate Equivalency Diploma test three times before passing it on the fourth try.

"Through hard work, I can do anything I want," he said to a standing ovation.

The theme of the evening was 'transforming Baltimore,' a nod to several different efforts with the same name. One is Transform Baltimore, the comprehensive rezoning rewrite. Another, also called Transform Baltimore," was an effort by the American Civil Liberties Union to improve public schools. Greater Homewood credits the ACLU as "the driving force" behind state legislation that led to an unprecedented investment of $1.6 billion in schools.

Thanks to Castro's efforts using $1.6 million leveraged by Greater Homewood, "more than 750 public school students returned from summer break to improved buildings" at Margaret Brent and Barclay, states the program for the awards dinner.