Associated Catholic Charities is sponsoring the first Baltimore-area chapter of SHARE, a program that enables people who give a few hours of volunteer community service to enjoy substantial discounts on grocery purchases.
The goal is to encourage a sense of community among people volunteering their time and buying food together. The program attracts needy people, but is open to anyone regardless of income.
"We want people to understand that they are their own best resource," says Peg Cronin, director of SHARE in Baltimore, which stands for Self Help and Resource Exchange. "We use food as a catalyst for bringing people together."
A 21,000-square-foot warehouse in Linthicum is the 22nd SHARE site to be opened since the program was started in 1983 by the Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego. The new site will have its first distribution May 30.
Ms. Cronin says about 1,200 people have agreed to participate, recruited mainly through referrals by local religious and social service organizations.
She says the program must increase to about 15,000 participants to break even financially. Meanwhile, the work of SHARE in Baltimore is being supported through grants and loans that Catholic Charities arranged from foundations and religious and social service groups.
Participants can fulfill a volunteer service commitment of at least two hours a month by bagging food at the warehouse, shopping for a sick neighbor or helping a church or community organization with any social outreach effort.
In return, a SHARE member may buy $35 worth of groceries at the warehouse for $13. Members may buy more at the same ratio by working more volunteer hours.
The warehouse, at 808 Barkwood Court, off Nursery Road in Linthicum, offers frozen meats, fresh vegetables, fruit and other staple foods. Information: 636-9615.
The arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas 500 years ago will be the subject of re-evaluation, drama and discussions in a conference next week at Morgan State University entitled "Myths, Misconceptions and Miracles: Confronting 500 Years of 'Discovery.' "
One feature of the conference will be a series of skits by the Underground Railway Theater, called "The Christopher Columbus Follies -- an Eco-Cabaret," which explores the effect of Columbus' arrival on peoples of various cultures.
The conference, sponsored by the Baltimore Clergy and Laity Concerned, will run from noon May 21 to 4 p.m. May 22 at the Carl Murphy Fine Arts Center of Morgan State.
The program casts blame on Columbus and his culture for exploitation of native cultures, as many groups have done in this 500th anniversary year, but that is not the main thrust of the presentation, says John Springer, director of Clergy and Laity Concerned.
Columbus will have an advocate in the program through readings from the diary of his voyage.
"He was a courageous person who explored the unknown world from his own perspective," Mr. Springer says.
He adds that the voyage and what followed also need "to be seen from the perspective of all the cultures involved in it."
The Jewish Historical Society of Maryland will open a display of two centuries of Jewish life in Baltimore Sunday at the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The exhibit, which will continue through February, is called "Fertile Ground: Two Hundred Years of Jewish Life in Baltimore."
The display is divided into three sections:
* The "German period" of immigration of Central European Jews before the Civil War.
* The "Eastern European period" of immigration in the late 19th century of Jews who coexisted uneasily with the "uptown" German Jews because of class and cultural differences.
* The "suburban period" of 20th century prosperity and the coalescing of strong Jewish suburban communities.
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