Fayette Street Outreach opens much-needed community center in west Baltimore
BALTIMORE — In 1993, some west Baltimore residents, seeing the great need for so much in their community, formed Fayette Street Outreach. Their mission was to build a better, safer and healthier community.
“We’re, like, a beacon in the middle of an ocean that people can come to for rescue,” said Edna Manns-Lake, founder of Fayette Street Outreach.
Manns-Lake started Fayette Street Outreach to make a brighter future for every resident of the community. It took 20 years to build a center, which opened in April.
“The community needed a place to call their own so they could come in and have community meetings. A place where we can have activities for our youth,” Manns-Lake said.
The center was built with a lot of help. Rep. Elijah Cummings helped secure $100,000 in Department of Housing and Urban Development money to get the ball rolling back in 2002, and the community law center pitched in with its skills.
“FSO approached us about 20 years ago to acquire these two vacant buildings in their neighborhood, and they had a vision for a community center, where everything else was leaving the neighborhood. The library left. The bank left. The supermarket left,” said Kristine Dunkerton, of the Community Law Center.
But Manns-Lake pressed on and got the building together. It is a meeting space, a place for job development, GED classes and more. Some students are learning coding.
“It’s really cool to come here and learn how to do a new thing,” said student Destiny Brown. “To learn how to do something new — instead of being negative, being positive.”
The center took the lot behind it and turned into something beautiful and sustainable for the neighborhood.
“We’ve got summer squash, tomatoes, peppers in these beds, Tulsi basil and Genovese basil,” said farmer Rich Kolm. “We’re trying to grow food and have access for fresh healthy food for people in the neighborhood.”
“This community has a lot of needs — unemployment is very high in this community, low income families, some families can barely make it from week to week,” Manns-Lake said.
Mann-Lakes hopes the center will be the place they learn new skills and find a way to make their lives better.
FSO is not done yet. It hopes to obtain seven vacant homes in the unit block of north Smallwood Street and open a food training program and catering hall.
FSO still needs to raise money to fund many of the classes they hope to bring to the community. You can click here to donate or call 443-438-7938.