Dr. Lela Campbell: Taking A Step Forward

Residents Take A Step Forward


Profile: MarkWeaver

Profile: Jane Mcalily

Giving Back to the Community DETERMINED TO STRENGTHEN BALTIMORE THROUGH GOD: Dr JoAnne Fisher: Helping Female Veterans


“A vision sent from God” encouraged Dr. Lela Campbell to found a residential treatment facility called A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF) in 2002. Campbell was born in Baltimore and raised in a small, close-knit family in many of its neighborhoods. As a teenager, her life was forever altered when she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby, Lamar. In the ensuing years, Campbell realized that she wanted to work with teenage mothers to help them face life’s difficulties and challenges. She received additional motivation from her brother, who at the time struggled with substance abuse and was frequently incarcerated. Ultimately, Campbell’s teenage pregnancy and the plight of her then-troubled sibling inspired the creation of ASF. She partnered with Omar Muhammad, the late Charles Moore, and her husband, Robert, to achieve her goal and launch a facility. Meanwhile, in the impoverished Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore, a young woman was looking to sell her mother’s house and move her into an assisted living facility. Robert expressed interest in purchasing the property to use it as the organization’s recovery home. Campbell subsequently received resistance from some locals who were wary about the potential drawbacks of establishing a treatment facility there.

“I remember presenting the idea at a community association meeting, feeling good about the opportunity to offer such services to a neighborhood that suffers from the perils of drugs,” Campbell said. “I was surprised when the community said ‘no.’ They do not want drug treatment facilities in their neighborhoods. I asked the community, ‘Would you rather have drug dealers in the community or folks in the community who are trying to get well?’” Campbell eventually overcame the objections and began providing support to locals experiencing homelessness. However, she was blindsided by many of her patients’ questions and requests and recognized that she needed to return to school. “When we began to provide housing, residents would ask for assistance with benefits, bus passes, vocational services,” Campbell recalled. “I thought, ‘Where is all this coming from?’ All I wanted to do was housing. With an associate’s degree in biblical studies and a bachelor’s degree in political science pre-law, I decided to go back to school to study vocational rehabilitation. I completed my master’s degree at Coppin State University in 2007 and, shortly thereafter, became a licensed counselor. In 2009, I was accepted into Morgan State University, where I obtained a Ph.D. in social work research.”

- DR. LELA CAMPBELL, FOUNDER OF A STEP FORWARD, INC “I believe that if a person attempts to get better, we must meet them where they are.”

A Fulfilling Purpose

Nearly two decades after founding ASF, the faith-based, non-profit organization remains a safe and secure establishment for people trying to recover from drug and alcohol addiction and other life-threatening issues. Moreover, Campbell remains as passionate and committed as ever to assisting Baltimoreons in need. “A Step Forward takes on the role of a hospital,” Campbell said. “As people enter treatment torn down physically and mentally, and in need of help, I love how our team takes action. I believe that if a person attempts to get better, we must meet them where they are. They are entrusting us with their lives. There have been a few times when I wanted to step away to work a 9-5 job. Just then, a past or present client pulls me aside to tell me how much of an important impact the organization has made in their life. I then remember the purpose and realize it’s all worth it.” Over the years, ASF has participated in multiple programs, including Leadership Baltimore County (LBC), Associated Black Charities (ABC) and the Coppin State University Leadership Program, and expanded its services to work with veterans, seniors, recently incarcerated persons, and other individuals in need. ASF has also partnered with agencies and organizations to complete community projects, such as serenity gardens, walk-through theatres, food giveaways, and neighborhood cleanups. Campbell, who will soon be featured on a mural for the positive influence she’s had on the community, credits her staff, interns,

volunteers, board members, and late brother, Frederick Blue, with helping ASF reach the heights it has. “We survived so much and we are still here,” Campbell said. “I have a beautiful, compassionate team who believes in the organization’s mission and vision. Our

goal, through self-improvement opportunities, is to return to our communities men and women who have hope and a future. It has been quite a journey and it is still underway.”


Mark Weaver was “just ready to give up on life” before he went to A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF) for help. Born in Riverside, California, Weaver was a military brat who lived all across the United States while his father served in the Air Force. Eventually, Weaver and his mother and sister permanently relocated to Baltimore. Regrettably, for quite some time, Weaver’s life was anything but easy in Charm City. “My parents got divorced and, after moving, I didn’t really have any contact with my dad,” Weaver, the youngest of seven children, said. “I think my dad didn’t know how to have a long-distance relationship with us. After my sister and mom had it out, it was just me and my mom. With my brother being in prison and my sisters so far away, I struggled not being able to have sibling relationships.” “Before my daughter turned 1, her mother and I split due to my drinking,” Weaver said. “Not only did the drinking cause our relationship to end, but I lost my job of 10 years as an account manager, my townhouse, and cars. I also became homeless and started having trouble with the law. Worst of all, my family got tired of me. All of this happened to me before the age of 30 and I was just ready to give up on life.” Fortunately, rather than quitting, Weaver persevered and decided to battle his demons. During a hospital visit, his life was forever transformed when he learned about ASF, a Baltimore-based residential treatment facility. “ASF is a faith-based, non-profit organization that aims to help people who are trying to recover from drug and alcohol addiction and other life-threatening issues,” Weaver said. “I liked that because I’m a spiritual person and, at the time, I was homeless and needed shelter. But I also needed housing in a stable environment to create a foundation. I knew that ASF had helped me start to turn the corner when I realized I had been there for more than two months. The staff was always there to help with any issues and always checking with me to make sure everything was okay. I really started to grow spiritually, got back in touch with myself, and discovered who I truly am.” A disheartened Weaver began using alcohol as a crutch and as a way to self-medicate. Predictably, this decision only created more problems and left him facing further challenges and complications.

“I don’t know where I’d be without ASF’s staff.”

-Mark Weaver


Despite his litany of achievements, Weaver is especially proud of the positive relationships he’s forged with his 3-year-old daughter and her mother. “Since I came here, I’ve gotten back into my daughter’s life and I now have a good friendship with her mother,” Weaver said. “My court case was also dropped and I’ve cleaned up my credit report. ASF has also helped me become even more spiritual, and that’s very important to me. But more than anything else, I have a clear mind and I’m there for my daughter. In the future, I want to become even closer to my family and just enjoy being with them.” In addition to spiritual and personal growth, Weaver has developed new professional skills while at ASF. Specifically, he’s become more computer literate thanks to ASF’s computer lab. “I’m in my comfort zone in the computer lab,” Weaver said. “Plus, I’m able to help others there, which is something that I love to do. This organization has opened the door for me and given me so many opportunities to showcase my skills.” Weaver raved about ASF’s “awesome” staff and strongly recommended their services to anyone in need. Furthermore, he discussed his present and future goals and promised to never become complacent. “I don’t know where I’d be without ASF’s staff,” Weaver said. “My present goals are to just continue on this path while not becoming content with life. My future goals are to get fully on my feet financially so that I can purchase land for my daughter to build her dream house on. But I want to buy land in a few different states, so she can choose where she wants to live.”

From homeless to looking to buy land, Mark Weaver is a true testament to the human spirit.


Giving Back to the Community

Roxane Prettyman is a pious and diligent Baltimorean who likes “making people feel happy and loved.” Prettyman worked for 39 years as a paralegal specialist for the Social Security Administration before retiring in 2018. However, as the vice president of the Western District Police Community Relations Council, vice president of the Fulton Community Association, and an avid, 30-year member of the First Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Prettyman remains as busy as ever. Prettyman discussed the First Mount Calvary Baptist Church and explained why going there has inspired her to give back to the community. “We call ourselves a compassionate, Christ centered community,” Prettyman said. “Our focus as an outreach center is to try to service the needs of the people in the community in a Christian manner as best we can. I believe that being a resident of the community, knowing the needs and the people, allows me to communicate to the church family the needs of the community. In return, the church reaches out to build a community of loving, forgiving, and caring believers who share their lives and who are committed to serving God by serving others. I am so determined to do all I can to help others because I believe that God has assigned me this task.”

For more than three decades, the First Mount Calvary Baptist Church has offered free lunches to locals on Wednesdays. Even so, since the onset of the pandemic in March, the church has expanded its soup kitchen from one day per week to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “We serve everybody who walks up for a lunch,” Prettyman said. “It has helped those who would normally go hungry get a nice meal for the day. Since the pandemic, we have been serving grab and-go lunches that basically consist of the same meals we would serve inside just in takeout containers. And now, instead of once a week, we are serving three days a week. Also, because kids have been out of school due to the pandemic, we make sure to serve them with a special treat.” Prettyman spoke about some of the key partnerships that she, along with Rev. Dr. Derrick DeWitt Sr. and her fellow churchgoers, have forged to help support the church’s mission. She also expressed appreciation for nearby businesses and mentioned the efforts of Dr. Lela Campbell, who founded a West Baltimore-based residential treatment facility called A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF) in 2002.

“We call ourselves a compassionate, Christ-centered community...”


Working Together

In the meantime, expect Roxane Prettyman to stay focused on “making people feel happy and loved.”

“We have an established relationship with the Western District Police,” Prettyman said. “They are a valuable part of our community and the community outreach here at the church. The officers often come and help out or partner with us for any of our outreach programs and food service. I am well acquainted with the police majors we have had. We also have a wonderful partnership with A Step Forward, which is located just three blocks down from the church. The participants in this program have been tremendous. Dr. Lela Campbell is the director of this program and I serve on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee with her for this district. We are also connected to some of the businesses in the area and can solicit their help for different events.”

Although encouraged by Baltimore’s upgrades, Prettyman knows there is ample room for improvement. Ultimately, she envisions a vibrant, bustling community that locals can enjoy without fretting about crime. “We need more people willing to help where needed,” Prettyman said. “I would like to see better housing and resources for the community. I’d also like to see a clean, crime-free community that has mixed-use development, commercial establishments, a physical fitness center, and a supermarket. I believe that, by working together, we can make this happen.”


The U.S. military is currently comprised of 20 percent women and there are more than 50,000 women veterans in Maryland alone. One of those roughly 50,000 Marylanders is a resilient and inspiring woman named Dr. JoAnn Fisher, who served in the U.S. Navy Reserve on active duty for 15 years before receiving an honorable discharge. However, Dr. Fisher had to overcome major obstacles and hardships before she joined the U.S. Navy Reserve. For eight years, the then-married mother of three was a working, welfare recipient who joined the Navy Reserve and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area in Section 8 housing with her two daughters, son, and mother. After struggling for nearly a decade, Dr. Fisher personally contacted former California Congressman Ron Dellums about becoming a reserve enlisted sailor. Congressman Dellums responded to Dr. Fisher’s inquiry and, shortly thereafter, she was placed on active duty.

“I can’t say enough great things about the late congressman,” Dr. Fisher, who was born and raised in Southeast Washington, D.C., said. “He changed my life. Workers at the California Department of Social Services said they had never had a woman welfare recipient go on active duty while taking care of their family.The U.S. Navy Reserve provided my family and me with housing on Treasure Island. At that moment, I promised myself that I would honor Congressman Dellums by doing everything possible to help women veterans.” In 2015, Dr. Fisher realized her dream when she and several women veterans established the Women Helping Woman Veterans

Veterans United Committee, Inc. (WVUCI) in Oxon Hill, Maryland. “Our mission at WVUCI is to work with women veterans to let them know they are not alone,” Dr. Fisher, a department commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Department of the District of Columbia, Inc., who earned her doctoral degree in 2014, said. “We want to be the voice to recognize the hardships and celebrate the accomplishments of women veterans. We also want to ensure the needs of women, such as clothing, food, care for their children, protecting them from domestic violence, and more, are met. We are women, and things can be tough for us.”

“Women veterans have already dealt with enough,”

-JoAnn Fisher

Over the past six years, WVUCI has changed directors and experienced many other transitions. Nevertheless, Dr. Fisher “refused to let it go,” and she is now the organization’s CEO. Nowadays, Dr. Fisher is as determined as ever to assist women veterans and motivate them to reach their personal and professional goals. “What we do has reached deep into women veterans’ souls and hearts,” Dr. Fisher said. “Although some are bruised and hurt, we have given them a chance to speak. We want women veterans to know that they can do, and accomplish, anything they want. If I can walk away from welfare and Section 8 housing, they can do the same. Grab my hand and come forward. No matter how hard it gets, we can do this. Yes, we can do this!” Although WVUCI is “a very strong sisterhood,” Dr. Fisher said that she relies on her organization’s directors and other organizations to work together to reach women veterans in need. Moreover, in 2020, WVUCI setup over two dozen events to help women veterans cope with living through the pandemic. Doing a Great Job

“Women veterans have already dealt with enough,” Dr. Fisher said. “Some women have returned from war with military sexual trauma (MST) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that have negatively impacted their families, especially their children. Women veterans have higher rates of divorce than both civilian women and veteran men. Unfortunately, since the onset of the pandemic, cases of domestic violence involving women veterans has dramatically risen. Women veterans need to know that we are here for them.” Dr. Fisher believes that women veterans are in a better position today than they were a couple of decades ago. Specifically, she is thrilled to see how many women veterans have secured key leadership roles in major organizations. Still, Dr. Fisher is adamant that women veterans, who have sacrificed their “blood, sweat and tears for America,” must be provided with more resources both when on active duty and after returning home from military deployment.

“Psychiatrists must be available to assist in addressing the needs of women with children.” Dr. Fisher said. “Sometimes, after being away from their children for extended periods of time, women feel like they no longer fit as a mother. We need to help veteran mothers who have been away from their children.They need more benefits, and they need to have access to more qualified doctors. Basically, they need to be taken care of better.” As a nonprofit organization, WVUCI depends on donations to ensure that women veterans are “taken care of better.” Dr. Fisher, whose two daughters, Phyllis and Ericka, also served in the United States Armed Forces, urges caring people to support their great cause. “We are doing a great job,” Dr. Fisher said. “Still, there is always room for improvement, and we need donations to help our heroic women who served in the military. We constantly have fundraisers and people can always donate to our cause. One person’s help can go a long way.” Despite having ample room for growth, WVUCI is “doing a great job” and Dr. JoAnn Fisher has come “a long way.”

A Step Forward Keeps Progressing

with Porshia Everett as its CFO

I like seeing people grow and develop after getting the resources they receive from coming here.


Porshia Everett was essentially a professional globetrotter before she agreed to become the chief financial officer (CFO) at A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF) in 2009. Born and raised in Cocoa, Florida, Everett “always had a heart for those impacted by homelessness.” However, Everett also always had a knack for numbers. Accordingly, she studied at Grambling State University in Louisiana before obtaining her master’s degree in business and MBA in accounting from Washington, D.C.-based Strayer University. Everett’s studiousness paid dividends and she gained employment working as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Peru’s capital city of Lima and other renowned agencies and organizations.

themselves. We all have different paths and all paths take different amounts of time to complete. I love the comeback story. I like seeing people grow and develop after getting the resources they receive from coming here.” Nowadays, Everett is primarily focused on helping ASF reach the community, establish partnerships, and continue to expand. Everett lauded the support of Fayette Street Outreach, particularly its vice president, Tim Bridges, and noted that client referrals are the ultimate key to growth. “The partnerships that we’ve forged with neighborhood churches and other local organizations have been incredibly important,” Everett said. “These organizations see the work that we do with clients and realize our value. However, the best type of networking, and the best type of advertising, comes from client referrals. When somebody walks into A Step Forward as one person and then leaves as a dramatically improved person, that’s the best possible form of marketing. It’s better than a billboard, commercial, brochure, or anything else you can think of. With that said, we are also fortunate to have a wonderful board of directors and Tim Bridges is great at networking.” Everett is proud that ASF has bolstered its housing services and now offers a Residential-Low Intensity Level 3.1 Program. Moreover, she is proud that ASF hasn’t needed to lay off anyone during the pandemic. “The pandemic has destroyed so many organizations,” Everett said. “But we’ve been creative and flexible. We’ve been able to retain our entire staff during this unprecedented time. In my eyes, that’s a huge accomplishment and one that I’m very proud of.” Naturally, as a finance director, Everett is constantly trying to identify growth opportunities and seeking ways to leverage ASF’s success. Although that mindset may diminish her popularity around the workplace, it’s utterly critical to the nonprofit organization’s overall health. “I push numbers and I’m keenly aware that you can’t do anything without money,” Everett said. “Providing needed services to the clients and making sure we remain financially viable is like walking a fine line. A Step Forward is now sustainable and that’s a tremendous achievement because, when I first came here, getting grant funding was difficult. We all sat down and developed a strategy to become a self-funded organization and, since then, we’ve been able to get CARF accredited and become Medicaid and Medicare providers. Even though we have a lot more work to do, we are definitely heading in the right direction.” With Porshia Everett crunching the numbers, it’s safe to predict that A Step Forward will continue “heading in the right direction.”

A Way With Numbers

“I was stationed in Lima, Peru, with the South America region, but we covered multiple countries, including Columbia, Brazil and Ecuador,” Everett, who worked for USAID (the United States Agency for International Development), said. “In 2006, I was relieved of duty due to illness and several other extenuating circumstances. I was basically put in a situation where I couldn’t work, so I decided to volunteer for many nonprofit organizations. I was doing what I loved, but feeling like I had failed miserably.” In 2009, Everett agreed to help ASF’s founder, Dr. Lela Campbell, work on a grant. Everett enjoyed working with Campbell and appreciated having “an opportunity to talk with clients, learn about them, and understand why they were chronically homeless.” Although at ASF through 2015, Everett frequently wondered if she could again work in a political environment. Thus, she accepted a position at Bread for the World in Washington, D.C. In this role, she had the opportunity to work with an organization that provided statistical information to Congress and the Senate about poverty in the U.S. and around the world, especially severe poverty affecting women and children. This organization worked tirelessly to help develop legislation and policies to eradicate hunger and poverty. In 2017, Campbell asked Everett if she’d be interested in returning to Baltimore to contract with ASF to complete a project. She agreed and, after completing the project and considering options, the Floridian accepted Campbell’s offer to join her spiritually based, nonprofit organization that provides support services to individuals recovering from drug and alcohol abuse and other life-threatening issues again. “If you ask my mother, she’ll say that I’ve always talked to people who were impacted by homelessness,” Everett recounted. “As a child, I would often invite them to our home”. When I did my internship at a homeless shelter, that’s when I felt a spark and knew this was my calling. Being here, and seeing how the staff works with clients and gives them steps, has really inspired me. I’ve seen people change their lives and, basically, get reintroduced to

Katrina Leonard explored many unique professional fields before becoming an independent contractor at A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF), a spiritually based, nonprofit organization in Baltimore that provides support services to individuals recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Born and raised in Cleveland, Leonard began studying communications at The University of Akron in nearby Akron, Ohio. Around this time, she accepted a position as an account executive for a broadcast television network and then later as an account executive at a popular radio station in Philadelphia. Following a successful stint in the City of Brotherly Love, Leonard started working with a California-based bail bond insurance provider called American Surety in 1997. Roughly 23 years later, in April 2020, the entrepreneur began representing Bankers Surety, a Saint Petersburg, Florida-headquartered bail bond insurance provider. It was here that Leonard became Maryland’s first African-American woman to secure employment as a managing general agent. “Before becoming a managing general agent, I had already established a great friendship with A Step Forward’s founder, Dr. Lela Campbell, and her husband, Robert Campbell,” Leonard, who serves as the CEO at Greater Baltimore Bail Agencts Inc., said. “In fact, Robert is like a brother to me and he helped me become a managing general agent. Last year, Dr. Campbell and I flew to Florida and discussed a holistic approach to criminal reform and I asked if she’d partner her organization with my company to address mental wellness and substance abuse issues. I thought about our respective clients and realized that many of them, especially ones in Baltimore City, are repeat offenders because they suffer from substance abuse or mental wellness. Many of these people aren’t receiving the right diagnosis and they’re getting wrongly placed in criminal systems. So, Dr. Campbell and I kind of became partners, and things are really starting to gel.” Leonard takes great pride in her clients’ success stories. In fact, she marvels at some of the stunning transformations she has witnessed over the years.

-Katrina Leonard “I never want to stop learning.”

Keeps Taking A Step Forward atrina Leonard

Room for Improvement

“I work with people across Maryland,” Leonard said. “At ASF, we pride ourselves on giving people hope for better futures. To see people broken and then see them on the other side as productive citizens, that’s the most rewarding part because we can see that we are making a difference. Our clients have to stay determined and put in a lot of work to get better. As Dr. Campbell says, ‘A rose can grow out of concrete.” Still, on federal, state, and local levels, Leonard sees ample room for improvement related to treating drug-involved offenders. Furthermore, although wholeheartedly thankful for the instrumental partnerships that ASF has forged, she hopes to build more long-lasting relationships to support the organization’s vision and strengthen its cause. “I would personally like to see more partnerships and more supportive financial services because many people don’t realize that ASF is a nonprofit and it takes funding to make our program

work,” Leonard said. “I would also like for more people to recognize, especially in Baltimore City, that mental wellness is a real concern. Locking somebody up and not dealing with the problem is not the answer. We need to improve the criminal justice system and truly help people struggling with addiction.”

SupposedTo Do Despite already possessing a diverse skill set, Leonard is constantly seeking to improve herself. For example, since the onset of the pandemic in March, she earned her certification in COVID-19 contact tracing. “Because my background was completely different, I’ve done a lot to understand this industry,” Leonard, who also has a mental health first aid certification, said. “I never want to stop learning. Spiritually, that’s all I can bring to the table at this point, and hopefully, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.” It’s safe to presume that many Marylanders believe that Katrina Leonard is doing what she’s “supposed to do.”

Edna Manns-Lake, Timothy Bridges, and Sterling Brunson have spent decades trying to ensure that Baltimore keeps its Charm.Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Southwest Baltimore was impoverished and suffering the negative consequences of its losing battle against drug abuse and drug trafficking. In the midst of this tumultuous era, Manns-Lake and some local community members met at her mother’s house to devise a comprehensive plan to combat the flow of narcotics and restore order and safety.That meeting ultimately led to the creation of a nonprofit organization called Fayette Street Outreach (FSO) in 1993. “Our first ever project was the youth beautification,” Manns Lake, who also serves as FSO’s president, recalled. “We cleaned up the neighborhood and boarded-up houses. We also began working with the police to identify drug hot spots in the area. Back in the mid-’90s through the middle of the TO REACH BALT IMOREANS Outreach continues Fayette Street

2000s, drug trafficking was very heavy on the west side and

the community came together to fight against the drug activity that was going on. We actually stood in front of payphones to disrupt the dealers’ business. We didn’t eliminate it, but it’s down to a crawl. People feel much safer.There is also some new development underway in the area.” Bridges, who graduated from Southwestern High School and serves as FSO’s vice president, discussed the state of local drug dealing. He also applauded the community as a whole and noted the importance of funding to support their mission. “Currently, a lot of drug activity is being done by youngsters who we watched grow up,” Bridges said. “Many of these children were always counted out and told that they wouldn’t amount to anything. Some of the kids feel like they have no other options, and the street corners are always hiring. Basically, because some feel like they don’t have an alternative to drug dealing, we aren’t on an even playing field. Fortunately, one thing that makes our community strong is the resilience of the people. We have people who will put them to work and aren’t afraid to teach them different trades, but we need the funding.”

A graduate of nearby Morgan State University, Brunson is proud of the impact that FSO has had on the community. He also emphasized the essential importance of building trust with locals and how it causes a trickle down effect. “We’ve been in existence for 27 years,” Brunson, FSO’s treasurer, said. “Our goal is to make the community better than when we received it, but our passion for work comes from giving people a chance to better themselves. What drives me is the gratitude on people’s faces when we help meet a need for them and I think we are good stewards in the community. Integrity and word of mouth are what allow us to grow. You can advertise all you want, but your word has to be your bond. You have to do what you say you are going to do and our work speaks for itself and the community

sees that. Once you establish trust, people come in droves. You may start by helping a grandmother in need, but you end up also helping her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It’s all about trust.” Among accomplishments over nearly three decades, FSO has developed a coding program, erected a greenhouse, unveiled children and youth mentoring programs, and opened an internet radio podcast station. Perhaps most importantly, the organization founded the Fayette Street Outreach Center in April 2019. Manns-Lake and Bridges credited the invaluable efforts of the late Elijah Cummings, who was a civil rights champion and the former representative for Maryland’s 7th congressional district. In 2002, Cummings secured $100,000 from the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to help construct the center. Manns

Bridges echoed Manns-Lake’s sentiments and lauded Haynes’ commitment to FSO. He also praised the efforts of FSO’s many partners, Del. Ruth M. Kirk, Del. Jeffrey A. Paige, and the former president of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, Dr. Samuel Ross. “Our partners are crucial to our organization,” Bridges said. “Our great partners include, but are not limited to, Wells Fargo, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Kaiser Permanente, LifeBridge Health, CareFirst, the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF), Nation’s Best Moving & Hauling, the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), L&J Waste Recycling and Busy Bee’s Child Care. We are incredibly thankful for all of their help.” It is evident that, with assistance from residents, politicians, and community leaders, FSO has had an extremely positive impact on Baltimore. It is also evident that, with much work remaining, Edna Manns-Lake, Timothy Bridges, Sterling Brunson, and their colleagues remain determined to further strengthen and reinvigorate Charm City.

Lake also expressed appreciation for the key contributions of Del. Keith Haynes of Baltimore. “(Keith) is very supportive of our cause,” Manns-Lake said. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without him.”

“Our goal is to make the community better than when we received it, but our passion for work comes from giving people a chance to better themselves.”

-Sterling Brunson

AS AN INTERN AT A STEP FORWARD Jane McAlily is growing

As a highly educated, married mother of three with ample professional skills, Jane McAlily is not a typical intern. Born and raised in Charm City, McAlily and her family ultimately relocated to Baltimore County, Maryland, where she graduated from Parkville High School. After graduating, she briefly attended the Community College of Baltimore County, Essex (CCBC) before securing a job in accounting. McAlily remained in this role for 21 years until 2011 when her boss determined that he could no longer afford to pay her salary. At a career crossroads, McAlily enrolled at Baltimore-based Coppin State University to study psychology. “I knew I had to attend Coppin State University because I realized I needed a new career,” McAlily said. “In May 2018, I graduated with a bachelor’s in applied psychology.This May, I’m going to graduate with a master’s in applied psychology with a focus on alcohol and substance abuse counseling. I’m proud to say that I’ve maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my master’s career.” To satisfy a graduation requirement, McAlily is in the midst of doing an internship at A Step Forward, Inc. (ASF), a spiritually based, nonprofit organization in Baltimore that provides support services to individuals recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.

“I’ve seen so many people get sober and make remarkable transformations without a relapse.”

-Jane McAlily

“As a young child growing up here, I remember it being a flourishing, densely populated area that was so much fun and where close-knit families could walk to the park and enjoy playing there,” McAlily said. “Nowadays, it’s kind of like a scary ghost town. Working here as an intern has made me always want to stay in the community and help enhance it. I’d like to see the area get back to the way it was. Over just two semesters here, I’ve seen so many people get sober and make remarkable transformations without a relapse. ASF is truly a shining light on the corner of Fulton Ave and Lanvale Street and I’m proud to be a part of it.” McAlily, who also worked with students with special needs in the Baltimore City Public School System from 2014 until 2020, is convinced that many adolescents have been gravely impacted by their parents’ addiction to drugs and alcohol.Thus, she is a big proponent of children’s mental health services. “I have a lot of goals that I still want to achieve,” McAlily said. “In fact, one day, I’d like to open a facility here in Baltimore that is designed to help people, particularly kids, who are hurt by substance abuse and mental health issues. If I do, I’d like to run my facility as Dr. Campbell runs hers. For example, when the pandemic first hit, she made it clear that she wasn’t going to lay off anyone and she hasn’t. I find that so inspiring and it’s how I like to think I’d handle such a situation.” As a highly educated, married mother of three with ample professional skills, Jane McAlily is already an inspirational figure and she can likely handle any situation. “Coppin State University gave me a list of places where I could intern at,” McAlily, who also serves a few times a year as an ordained minister with an African Methodist Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue, said. “A Step Forward was one of the places on the list and I was recommended there by a woman in the psychology department named Cheryl Gross. After I interviewed with its founder, Dr. Lela Campbell, I made up my mind on the spot that I wanted to do my internship at ASF because I felt I could really learn there. Dr. Campbell made it clear that I wasn’t going to be filing paperwork or doing other menial tasks. She told me that I’d be deep in the trenches with everyone else and I have been since I started there in January 2020.” Interning at ASF has been ideal for McAlily because she’s always “had a heart for the people who are looked at as unlovable.” ASF is also ideal for McAlily because it’s near her home and she believes that the facility’s mere presence can encourage locals to get better and eventually help resurrect the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. An Ideal Fit A Plan to Help the Community

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