Points of Light in Baltimore

April 19, 1991

When President Bush used a "thousand points of light" to describe the benefits of voluntarism, it caught the public's imagination. An off-shoot of that presidential remark has been the private, non-profit Points of Light Foundation, which is enlisting corporate and political heavy-hitters to promote voluntarism during a nationwide campaign this month. On Monday, that foundation honors the efforts of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, a church- and temple-based organization that is in the midst of a $24-million undertaking to construct 300 units for low- and moderate-income homebuyers.

When this Nehemiah project was started in two neighborhoods in West Baltimore, its goal was to fulfill the Prophet Isaiah's vision that the city is a place where all people share, live and shine equally. That was the goal that brought city, state and federal officials together with the BUILD organization and James Rouse's Enterprise Foundation.

Some of the results are already in and they are encouraging: Although construction started only in February, 134 of the houses are under contract. The average income of the would-be buyers is $17,815, or less than 50 percent of the median income in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Clearly, the biblical vision is being met.

Dreams are being realized in other ways, too, in parts of Baltimore.

Tomorrow, another local organization will undertake a massive private and corporate volunteer effort to fix up the homes of 75 low-income, elderly residents of Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello and Better Waverly. Because of the group's spirit, this annual drive is appropriately known as "Christmas in April."

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