Some of the most vibrant social entrepreneurs in Baltimore City are also OSI-Baltimore Community Fellows. They’re a corps of more than 200 activists, artists, leaders, and conveners dedicated to serving underserved communities in Baltimore. Not surprisingly, many are pivoting, adjusting, or refocusing their mission to respond directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. At osibaltimore.org, we have a roundup of about 25 Fellows’ COVID-response efforts. Here is a sampling:
Mariah Bonkowski (2019 Fellow), who was recently profiled in The Baltimore Sun, continues to provide hygiene products through her project Parts of Peace pantry locations to those who can’t afford them.
Marvin Hayes (2019 Fellow), whose program Baltimore Compost Collective, is part of the recently saved Filbert Street Garden (founded by 2011 Fellow Jason Reed) is continuing to be a food resource for the surrounding Curtis Bay community during the pandemic.
Two alumni Fellows, Sarah Hemminger (Thread, 2009 Fellow) and J.C. Faulk (Circles of Voices, 2016 Fellow), are working on Food with a Focus, a grocery distribution effort with houses of worship distribution network. The pilot program was launched by Circles of Voices and New Psalmist Church and has now expanded to 17 sites.
As a member of the Cherry Hill Crisis Response Team, Black Yield Institute, founded Erik Jackson (2017 Fellow), led an effort to support elders, children, and families in Cherry Hill and beyond by facilitating the sharing of nearly 5200 meals, along with 200 total bags of activities and hygiene products in just a 5-day period.
Access Art, co-founded by Shawn James (2003 Fellow), is currently serving as a temporary food bank. The organization had been given a grant to restructure and rebuild the food bank in a partnering school, but since schools are closed, Access Art has been distributing to the public.
Gianna Rodriquez (2016 Fellow), founder of Baltimore Youth Arts, has moved its programming online. The organization is still paying staff and students for their work and are preparing to accept 10 new young people from the juvenile justice system into the program. They are also posting COVID-19 information and resources on their website.
Kendra Summers (2019 Fellow) has been working with Mera Kitchen Collective, World Central Kitchen, and the Greater Baybrook Alliance to safely distribute 100s of hot dinners and donated supplies (face masks, toiletries, school supplies, etc.) to Latinx families in Brooklyn and Curtis Bay.
Rebecca Yenawine (1999 Fellow) recently began a campaign with the Teacher’s Democracy Project in coordination with the Baltimore City Public Schools, to collect used tablets and laptop for students in the City Schools.