Story by LaTasha Hewitt
Allegheny East Conference's Baltimore Junior Academy (BJA), located in the Park Heights community of Baltimore, recently received a call from the mayor’s office requesting use of their gymnasium as a cold weather shelter for the homeless. Initially school leadership was hesitant because the school would soon be holding a program in their gym. Staff and students had already prepared the space with lights and decorations, purchased costumes and set up chairs for the crowd.
Even though the request came at an inconvenient time, it was viewed as an opportunity to partner with the community and provide service to those in need, says David Turner, principal. “Being of service may not always be convenient, and may require getting into an uncomfortable space, but we at BJA are intent on making a difference in the community,” he adds.
Over three months, BJA partnered with the mayor’s office and various community agencies to provide shelter for 20 days to approximately 55 guests. The school provided a warm space and food to their guests. Darren Cole, a shelter coordinator and supervisor with New Vision House of Hope, a community treatment center in Baltimore, shares, “This has been one of the best shelter partnerships we have had in the community. BJA was always willing to help out.”