Getting involved for change in Baltimore -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Getting involved for change in Baltimore


Legg Mason employee Jody Clark applies new mortar to a wall at house No. 1 on Baltimore, Maryland’s Jefferson Street, where 10 row houses are being rehabilitated as part of the 2010 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project ©Habitat for Humanity/Gregg Pachkowski

By Susan Dunn-Lisuzzo

Work got under way in Baltimore on Tuesday, and hundreds of volunteers gathered at their assigned houses to swing a hammer, swish a paintbrush or do whatever was needed to help give a hand up to a community that’s transforming from a crime-ridden and downtrodden area to a safe, vibrant neighborhood.

“People getting involved is what’s going to change the neighborhoods in Baltimore,” said Sally Dalzell, who has been a Habitat homeowner in the city’s Waverly neighborhood since 2004. For Dalzell, that means, at least in part, staying connected to Habitat as well as to the community in which she lives.

For many years, Dalzell, a trained artist, helped the affiliate raise funds by donating her “Windows of Opportunity,” artwork she created from old, salvaged windows.

And she is a driving force behind her neighborhood’s organic community garden, where flowers and vegetables are grown. The garden was started in 2003 after an abandoned home that had been attracting a criminal element was razed.

“Sally’s changed our neighborhood,” said Phyllis Brent, Dalzell’s neighbor, who accompanied her to a Carter Work Project luncheon hosted by Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake. “She’s the best thing since sliced bread.”

Many ways to build support

Bob and Martha Morris are two others making a difference with the Maryland affiliate. The couple became involved with Habitat for Humanity in 1996, when their church fully sponsored and constructed a Habitat house.

In 1999, after their church sponsored three consecutive builds, the Morrises started United Churches, a coalition of local churches that together fund a house annually. The number of churches involved varies from year to year, depending on the level of support each is able to provide; this year 13 churches are involved.

When Martha Morris retired, she became a full-time volunteer with Habitat of Chesapeake and has served on the board.

Bob Morris also actively supports the affiliate by running its woodshop. In the shop, which is attached to the affiliate’s Baltimore office, he and other volunteers make exterior wood trim and corbels for the row homes being rehabilitated on Jefferson Street in order to match original woodwork and keep the historically accurate look of the homes.

His creativity also boosts affiliate fundraising efforts. A playhouse that any child would be thrilled to have will be auctioned at Maryland Home & Garden Show on Oct. 15-17 at Timonium Fairgrounds, as will birdhouses built in the woodshop and painted by local artists.

Susan Dunn-Lisuzzo is national communications manager for Habitat for Humanity International.