As Black History Month drew to a close last night, more than 200 people filled the First Baptist Church in Annapolis to answer a call to help shape the future.
The rally, titled "Each one -- Reach one," was called to recruit volunteers to spend time with kids. Organizers heralded the event as "a call to the community to join forces to reclaim our youth and stop the violence that is killing so many."
Annapolis Housing Authority Executive Director Harold Greene saidmost public housing residents "have the same hopes and dreams that we all do. . . . And those (residents) that are not law-abiding, we will get rid of them, and we have already begun to."
"I'm tired of the shooting, I'm tired of he drugs, I'm tired of the people who destroy our streets and harm our children," Greene said. "If we're going to stop this, we've got to help ourselves."
People of all ages and walks of life attended the rally. City, county and state officials delivered speeches and presented proclamations.
Gloria Lloyd-Barnes,whose brother faces drug charges and whose cousin, Sylvester Wayne Johnson, was slain earlier his year, sang Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All." She told the crowd, "I'm sorry some of the homeboysout on the corner aren't in here."
The Rev. Oscar Brown of Baltimore exhorted the crowd to reach out to others and begin a movement for change.
The program, the idea of county Drug and Alcohol Programemployee Joseph "Zastrow" Simms, is looking for volunteers who organizers hope will give kids alternatives to the drugs and drug-related violence that has plagued public housing and other communities.
The housing authority and other groups are looking for people of all ages and races to tutor kids, helping them prepare for college entranceexams, or just spending recreation time with them.
"Some kids start out with academic problems and fall by the wayside," said Veta Covert, special programs coordinator for the housing authority. "We needpeople and organizations to help them."
The group hopes organizations will come forward and adopt individuals or families. The First Baptist Church has led the way by adopting the College Creek Terrace and Obery Court communities.
The group also is looking for people to volunteer as drivers, help with day-care programs and provide clerical assistance.
Covert said she gets a lot of calls from people who want to volunteer their time. She said she hopes the program begunlast night becomes a permanent volunteer force.
Violent crime in public housing and other communities reached an all-time high last year. There were five murders in the city last year, and there has beenone so far this year.
Last night's rally was sponsored by the housing authority, the city Office of Civic and Neighborhood Projects, the county Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the YWCA.