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‘Homecoming Heroes’: The semifinalists are in, time to pick the winners, Baltimore | COMMENTARY

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Last month, Baltimore Homecoming partnered with The Baltimore Sun to seek nominations for the nonprofit’s “Homecoming Hero Awards,” which will be presented this spring to five Baltimore community leaders and activists dedicated to improving the city.

The votes have been tallied and the names whittled to 10 semifinalists by a committee of past winners and local business and nonprofit leaders, based on the nominees’ “creativity, impact, and ability to inspire and mobilize others.”

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Now, we’re asking the public weigh in again with another online vote, starting today, to determine the top five finalists. Each will receive a $3,000 cash prize, sponsored by T. Rowe Price, and, more importantly, the opportunity to address high-profile attendees at a three-day event held May 4-6, known as Amplify 2022. Who knows what new partnerships, investments and collaborations could result?

Online voting will be open through Dec. 31, at baltimoresun.com/heroes, where you’ll also find more details about the contest and its purpose, as well as longer profiles of each of the semifinalists. We offer a snapshot of each here, based on information provided by Baltimore Homecoming, to give you voting motivation and an idea of the high caliber of the field.

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In alphabetical order, the semifinalists are:

Steve Allbright: culinary director, Franciscan Center of Baltimore

Mr. Albright and volunteers at the Franciscan Center serve hundreds of meals a day, made from ingredients donated by local farms, to food insecure folks in Baltimore. He says feeding the “beaten down” in Baltimore is his calling.

Michael Battle Jr.: executive director and founder, RICH (Restoring Inner City Hope)

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Mr. Battle uses his experience growing up in Cherry Hill as a guide to transform communities through engagement and empowerment. RICH next steps include scaling up youth programs and launching workforce development efforts.

Alanah Davis: assistant director of community arts, MICA

Through her cultural work in the community, social designer and writer Alanah Davis has become known as “Baltimore’s Godmother” and been recognized by multiple organizations and individuals, including the mayor.

Tyde-Courtney Edwards: founding director, Ballet After Dark

Ms. Edwards, a survivor of sexual assault and Baltimore School for the Arts graduate, founded Ballet After Dark to provide trauma-informed, dance therapy classes and resources to Black women and youth affected by sexual trauma and violence.

Janet Glover-Kerkvliet: director, Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group/Life Career Pivoters Inc.

Ms. Glover-Kerkvliet has a background in workforce development and therapy, and puts all of her skills to work helping older unemployed workers deal with the social, emotional and psychological pain of losing a job midcareer.

Ateira Griffin: founder and executive director, BOND (Building Our Nation’s Daughter’s)

Trained as a civil engineer and educator, Ms. Griffin seeks to disrupt oppression on Black communities, particularly women of color and single-mother households. Through BOND, she offers free advocacy training for Baltimore residents.

Sam Novey: co-founder, Baltimore Votes Coalition

Mr. Novey is working to see that every person in every Baltimore precinct votes in every election. Among his initiatives was sending out 3,000 “Party at the Mailbox” kits to city residents with locally inspired goods inside.

Noah Smock: executive director, Baltimore Community Toolbank

Mr. Smock “serves the servers,” providing tools and resources to enhance service projects in the community as well as helping to conceive and launch ambitious projects, with an eye toward positive change in the Baltimore region.

Dorian Walker: executive director, Family Survivor Network, Inc.

Mr. Walker works to support the mental and physical health of communities impacted by violence in Baltimore, with a focus on supporting and uplifting African American men and boys.

Atiya Wells: CEO and founder, Backyard Basecamp

Ms. Wells, a pediatric nurse, has made it a mission to reintroduce BIPOC people (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) to nature, starting through walks in their own communities and soon venturing into Maryland’s other wild spaces.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.

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