Miracle on Madeira Street

Developer brings vacant housing back to life

Thanks for publishing the story of Diana Gaines ("Madeira Street turnaround shows 'any place can be good,'" Nov. 24).

When I worked for Habitat for Humanity, she was the only other developer with the vision and commitment to rehab houses on this block. Later, when I worked for the nonprofit One House at a Time, it was my pleasure to see her continue her work on the block.

Rehabbing houses on a street that is mostly vacant is tremendously difficult even if you work for a nonprofit such as Habitat for Humanity that has a national organization, volunteer labor and willing donors. What Ms. Gaines accomplished on Madeira Street by herself is nothing short of amazing.

I have spent the last six years working for nonprofits whose mission is to eradicate Baltimore's vacant housing problem. It is difficult work and I have sometimes felt that the problem was simply too large and we who fought against it too few. I know that Ms. Gaines had similar moments, but despite all of the obstacles she never gave up on her vision of a better life for the residents of Madeira Street.

Thanks for showing that Baltimore's vacant housing problem can be solved and that one person can make a difference. And thanks to Ms. Gaines for reminding us all that despite the difficulties life puts in our way, being true to oneself and living according to one's heartfelt values is what matters.

Larry Grubb

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