Grady Dale Jr.: A 'Beautiful' Marylander takes care of the 0) children
For Grady Dale Jr., a Baltimore psychologist, it is not enough to tend to African-American children whose lives have been warped by urban strife.
The troubled community itself must be tended to as well, Dr. Dale says. Not only by individuals such as himself, but by coalitions of concerned citizens and activists.
Dr. Dale's efforts to heal Baltimore's young and their blighted neighborhoods were recognized last week at an Annapolis ceremony sponsored by the state's "Maryland You are Beautiful" office. The annual "Maryland's Most Beautiful People" award honors exemplary volunteers from the state's 23 counties and Baltimore City.
Through his private practice, and on a contractual basis with the state, Dr. Dale has worked with thousands of children. Much of his time is donated, he says. He is also director of student services and an assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
For the past six years, Dr. Dale and his wife Helen, have also sponsored the National Leadership Forum on the Black Child, a local conference that seeks solutions to the problems facing African-American youth.
The son of a New Jersey minister, Dr. Dale, 46, deliberately does not think in terms of ending the shattering cycle of inner-city violence. That only "breeds a sense of hopelessness," he says. "What I'm concentrating on is what you are doing as an individual to contribute to the lives of the people who are in this situation in the first place. [For example]: You take care of your block. In that block things are going to get better."
By choice, the Dales live in a neighborhood where gunfire often punctures the air. Part of their commitment to the inner city, he says, is being in "the thick of it." Sometimes Aimee Adashek worries that by the time the old Pikes Theater on Reisterstown Road reopens as a performing arts center, her hair will have turned gray.
As executive director of the non-profit Greater Baltimore Cultural Arts Foundation, Ms. Adashek will soon head a drive to raise about $2 million to convert the old movie theater into a 400-seat center for music, dance and theater groups.
More than a year of construction will be required after the funds are raised, but Ms. Adashek is well acquainted with the patience required of struggling artists. She spent 14 years as a free-lance flutist, playing with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, teaching at the Peabody Conservatory, and substituting in the Baltimore Symphony -- all while practicing her instrument seven days a week up to eight hours a day.
"I felt I probably had more talent as an administrator," she says, "so I decided to make the switch to arts administration. I wanted to contribute to the way musicians live their lives. I felt that they deserved better."
She also thinks the same of the people of Pikesville.
"At one time, the Pikes Theater was the central focal point of Pikesville," she says "and now it's just this big hole. But performing arts centers are one of most efficient economic generators to urban areas. This is about presenting, developing and promoting the performing arts," she adds. "It began with people sitting around a fire and sharing stories. That's what the performing arts are about -- communities coming together and sharing experiences. And people communicate on a much deeper level with music, dance and theater."
Patrick A. McGuire