A clear view of community and values

Sunday Snapshots

Activist: Henry...

June 16, 1996|By M. Dion Thompson

A clear view of community and values; Activist: Henry Brim, 17, says problems should motivate people to find solutions, not discourage them from trying.

No excuses. That is how Henry Brim, 17, feels about helping his community.

"Don't use the neighborhood for an excuse" he says. "You don't use the problem to bring you down. You use the problem to motivate you."

Glaucoma took Brim's sight when he was 3 1/2 , leaving what looks like pale blue plastic discs over his eyes. Being blind doesn't seem to bother him. What bothers him is the state of the world and the neighborhood surrounding his home in the 1900 block of Herbert St., a narrow side street near the corner of Monroe Street and North Avenue.

For his work as a member of the Umoja Student Organization at Baltimore City College, the Junior Black Academy of Arts & Letters recently gave Brim one of its Living Legend awards. He also has received a citation from Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and will spend a week in Washington this fall attending a seminar for young leaders.

The awards let him know he is on the right course. But there is no time to rest. He says he and his fellow Umoja members are too busy "dropping knowledge," working with eighth-graders at Chinquapin Middle School, talking to Northwestern High School students about starting another Umoja chapter.

"I make them see things that they see every day, but they never pay attention to," things like junkies, trash, hustlers, he says.

"We don't try to force anyone to make a change or do something different. What we do is let them know there is another path, let them know that there is a better way."

Earlier this year, Brim suffered a devastating blow when his father, Henry Brim Sr., died. The loss sent him into an emotional tailspin. His work gave him a way out.

This fall, he'll start his senior year at City College. A college career awaits. He intends to study psychology and business management at Morgan State, Florida A&M or Clarke University in Atlanta.

It's a full life for Brim who, even with all his good works, has a young man's desires.

"There's only two things that I wish I could see for, and that's to drive and to look at all the beautiful women that's out here," he says, smiling. "Other than that, I don't want to be able to see all the rest of the stuff that's out here." For Melanie Nolet, helping people with AIDS and staying fit go hand in hand. The 25-year-old Baltimore teacher will participate, along with 3,000 other bicyclists, in the "Philadelphia to D.C. AIDS Ride" on June 21-23. Ride planners hope to raise more than $5 million to fight AIDS. "I hope to God that it raises awareness in people," Nolet said. "It's so important to find a cure, if not for my generation, for the next."

Nolet got involved in the bicycle trek through her friend Gene Fedeli, the founder of the Gary Foundation, which is dedicated to helping AIDS patients. To participate, every rider had to raise $1,400 in donations. That's where Fedeli's business savvy came in. "He had the good ideas to raise the money, and I had the body to do the race. We were a good team," Nolet said.

Nolet credits much of her support to the Gateway School, a program of the Hearing and Speech Agency, where she teaches. The Baltimore school caters to students with severe communication disorders ranging from the ages of 2 1/2 to 9 years.

Nolet, a graduate of Towson State University, will also be one of only 175 Marylanders to carry the Olympic torch when it passes through the state on Wednesday.

Unbeknown to her, Nolet's aunt nominated her to be a torchbearer as one of the United Way's Community Heroes. Because of her background with the AIDS quilt and Maryland AIDSWALK, as well as physical fitness, Nolet was selected to run the torch through Baltimore sometime Wednesday evening.

Noting that these two monumental events in her life are occurring days apart, Nolet said, "I feel really comfortable, this is definitely something I can achieve. I'm tired of talking about it, let's do it."

Pub Date: 6/16/96

Brian Byrnes

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