Old Catonsville: Catonsville connection to healing community for women in Baltimore

Jeanne Allert is shown on the Irvington campus of The Samaritan Women, a facility to help women recover from addiction and trauma.
Jeanne Allert is shown on the Irvington campus of The Samaritan Women, a facility to help women recover from addiction and trauma. (Photo by Maggie Schorr)

Though the facility is in the Irvington community of Baltimore, this amazing place just down the road has some significant connections to our community.

The Samaritan Women, 602 S. Chapel Gate Lane, provides a healing community to help women recover from trauma, victimization or addiction and rebuild their lives.


Catonsville residents, as well as local businesses and churches, are among the hundreds of volunteers who have donated their support in the past four years to the facility.

"We have from 60-100 volunteers a week who contribute their time and talents," said Jeanne Allert, a former businesswoman and founder of the Christian ministry that encourages healing and hope.


The facility provides "restorative services specifically to homeless female veterans and women rescued from exploitation and human trafficking," according to its website.

Allert, a giver, a doer and an amazing organizer, can often be found directing projects on the campus throughout the day, with her Labrador, Daisy, pit bull, Orion, and cat, Elizabeth Taylor, nearby.

"I've been impressed with Jeanne's faith, passion, and commitment to the needs of women," wrote the Rev. Ken Kovacs, pastor of Catonsville Presbyterian Church, in an email. "She has a determined trust in God's faithfulness to the growth out of this project.

"In my time on the grounds of TSW, I could palpably feel that something was special about the place, that God appeared to be doing something important there — across denominational and theological divides.

"I was particularly struck to see conservative and liberal Christians working together in this ministry. This provides a model for what the Church as a whole can be about."

Girl Scout troops have transformed rooms in the house, church groups have painted and cleaned, students from Johns Hopkins University built a berry garden structure and high school students tend to the farm.

"We have some great support from Catonsville businesses and church groups which has been terrific, " wrote Sharon Runge, a volunteer, in an email.

"I continue to be inspired by the hundreds of volunteers who have given thousands of hours of time and talent to renovate the historic mansion and to create the farm," wrote the Catonsville resident.

"I am also deeply appreciative to the businesses, especially the Catonsville community, who have supported our events and projects. Now I can hardly wait for the women to move in and for the house to become a home and a place of healing and renewal.

"It will even be more exciting once our culinary kitchen is completed in the new year and the residents begin to use produce from our harvest to learn culinary skills and create nutritious meals," she wrote.

In addition to the residence and vocational training program, the facility also features a greenhouse and a huge, 2-acre farm.

Two Catonsville businesses on Frederick Road, Atwater's and Ships Café, donate to the compost effort on the farm.

The Rev. David Asendorf, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church on Frederick Road, enjoys tending to his own garden plot where he grows potatoes and corn.

"I used to live on a farm. It's delightful to be at TSW. My space is right next to the chickens," he saidl.

He called the facility's outreach and mission to offer counseling, spiritual development, vocational training and life skills, a blessing to women on the streets.

An Oct. 1 gala will celebrate four years of renovation efforts by thousands of volunteers on the battered 1839 Victorian house.

The 6-10:30 p.m. event will feature an evening of food, music, dancing and a tour of the residence.

In addition to signature dishes from area chefs, many highlighting produce from the facility's farm, members of the U.S. Army Field Band will donate their musical talent.

Tickets are $75 and available at http://thesamaritanwomen.org.

Old home week

Jack Manley likes to keep in touch with his former students of Catonsville High.

So when two came in from out of town for a class reunion at Rolling Road Golf Club, they stayed with him.

"I enjoy keeping in touch with former students," said Manley, who left Catonsville High to go across Rolling Road and lead the athletic department at then Catonsville Community College

Dennis Phillips, from the Class of 1959, arrived from Frankfurt, Germany, and Ramsey Thomas, from the Class of 1960, traveled cross country from San Francisco.

"Ramsey and Dennis are still running," said Manley, who taught physical education at Catonsville in 1959, 1960 and 1961 and also coached cross country, indoor track and track and field.

He helped coach teams to state championships in cross country in 1959 and 1960.

He continued his career as longtime athletic director at CCBC.

Getting it together

The Banneker Reunion Committee hosts former teachers and alumni of the Banneker School and Baltimore County Board of Education to celebrate a weekend of "Preserving the Past to Ensure the Future" Friday, Sept. 23, to Sunday, Sept. 25.

Reunion Chairwoman Phyllis King, a 1964 alum of Banneker School, said the group seeks to empower and preserve the community by locating and preserving historic African-American landmarks and by recognizing those who contributed to maintaining the legacy of Catonsville history.

At one time, Banneker High School was the only school African Americans could attend and drew students from Oella, Arbutus, Halethorpe and Granite, as well as Catonsville.

Friday's welcome reception at Banneker Recreation Center, 27 Main Ave., Catonsville, starts at 7 p.m. with a grand procession and program followed by music, food and lots of socializing.

On Saturday at 9 a.m. at the rec center, there will be a continental breakfast followed by traditional games, a cook out and wrapping of the Maypole that was a very important part of former May Day activities.

Vendors will offer items such as special T-shirts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The ball, 7-11 p.m., will have Del. Adrienne Jones as a special guest.

Sunday's activities at Grace A.M.E. Church, 671/2 Winters Lane, begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m., followed by a worship ceremony at 10 a.m.

The church, along with other churches in the community, played a important role in the students' education by hosting Banneker graduates' baccalaureate service.

Sunday's closing ceremony features a 3 p.m. dinner at the rec center with Brenda Brown Schoonover as guest speaker. Schoonover, who graduated from Catonsville High in the 1950s, served as ambassador to the Republic of Togo, 1998-2000, forPresidentBill Clinton.

To contact King, call 410-744-5399 or email dking36953@aol.com.

Whole lot of fun with quarters


Enjoy a fast-paced quarter auction and support the Catonsville High Booster Club, Friday, Sept. 23.


Bid on items from home party sales companies such as Willow House, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Cookie Lee Jewelry, Avon, Miche Bags, Silpada Jewelry and others.

"It's a great way to spend time with your family and friends," said Jen Mills, organizer of the adults-only event to benefit Catonsville High School's senior class after-prom party.

Doors open at 6 p.m. at The Lodge in Catonsville, 2832 Nine Mile Circle, to view auction items. Auction starts at 6:45 p.m.

The $25 ticket includes one bidding paddle and one $10 roll of quarters.

Sandwich foods, snacks, desserts, beer, wine and setups available for purchase.

Across the river

Want to learn about historic Ellicott City, get a little exercise and have some fun?

Join the Oct. 8 Ellicott City Historic Hike, 2-3 p.m., offered by the Friends of the Patapsco Valley and Heritage Greenway.

Travel along Main Street as part of an imaginary railroad, participate in a 1800s-style bucket brigade to put out an imaginary fire, learn how rock formations along the road were demolished before dynamite and experience the sounds of Main Street during the 1700s as part of a lesson in the town's 5Rs (Railroad, River, Road, Rock and Rebuild).

Learn about 20 historic sites, including the Patapsco River, the first national road, the town's hidden cobblestone alley, the B&O Railroad Museum, the rock cliffs alongside the sidewalks and the mysterious marker near the railroad bridge.

Reservations requested but not required.

Comfortable walking shoes recommended.

The Friends will host a final tour of the year Nov. 12.

Call 410-313-1900 or 1-800-288-8747.

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