Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 10, 1994

Community Center Has History of Service in Baltimore
By Christine A. Rowett

Between bites of her 3 p.m. lunch, Gloria Ricks attempts to
explain the many facets of the Lafayette Square Community
    "We cook; we paint; we scrub; we do it all," said Ricks,
executive director of the 40-year-old agency at 1510 W.
Lafayette Ave. in West Baltimore. "Everybody does a little
bit of everything."
    Programs include a licensed day-care center,
after-school activities for students and counseling for high
school dropouts and teens recently released from prison. The
facility stresses its multigenerational status by also
sponsoring programs for single parents and senior citizens.
    But it is the unofficial, informal services that the
center provides that leave perhaps more of an impact on the
    Residents have been known to ask for everything from a
notary to someone to accompany them on a visit to criminal
    "We attempt to service the community no matter what the
need," Ricks said. "Sometimes we just have to hold someone's
    The center is one of the more than 115 service agencies
that will benefit from Hopkins United Way contributions. The
campaign kicked off in September and will run through
    "The center has a very rich history in terms of
providing services to this community," Ricks said. 
    Founded in 1954, the center has been at its current
location for 20 years. It is certified through the United Way
of Central Maryland and accredited as a settlement house by
United Neighborhood Centers of America.
    The center receives funds from the city, state and
federal government, the United Way and other foundation
grants. There are nominal fees for some services, such as
summer camp, and private contributions make up the rest of
the budget.
    "Of course we're understaffed, and we have all kinds of
needs," said Ricks, who has been at the center five years.
    Some of the things Ricks would like to see added to the
center include reliable transportation and drivers for
members of the community who are housebound and professional
counselors who will donate time to spend with those in need.
    The center is also working on getting a research grant
to look at teen relationship abuse.
    "I can stand at my office window and look at them
fighting," Ricks said. Sadly, she is not surprised.
    "I think the youth mirror what's happening to those in
the adult world," she said. "Hopefully, we will be able to
develop some prevention services."
    In order to service the between 19,000 and 20,000
residents Ricks estimates the center sees each year, the 26
staff members rely heavily on volunteers.
    "In many ways, we would not be able to do much of what
we do without volunteers," Ricks said. Some are parents whose
children use the center. Others are parents who attended
center program themselves as children.
    For more information or to volunteer at the center, call
669-6646. For information about the United Way campaign, call
Judy Peregoff in the Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree
Programs at 516-6060.

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