ANNAPOLIS resident Elizabeth Pollak is a woman of vision. The 82-year-old's dream is to build a community center for Eastport where all the disparate groups in the neighborhood can work toward reconciliation.
A year ago, she sent out thousands of questionnaires to determine what kinds of services were needed. The initial response wasn't great, especially among lower-income groups, but she reports that progress since then has been "slow but sure."
"The people who are really interested in what I'm trying to do are coming together and beginning to work together," she says. "We know it will take three or four years before we get a building, but meanwhile we're beginning to get to know each other better."
Pollak knows that this "has to be a grass-roots thing. That's why we're organizing dialogue-action groups. I hope we'll find a way to engage the lower-income people in Eastport, to find out what their social needs are in terms of infant-care centers, day-care or senior-care centers. We think the dialogue-action groups will make people more sensitive as to how to reach out."
Six meetings are scheduled over the next several months. Each group comprises a dozen or so people of different races, income levels and ages. Two facilitators will guide each group through a discussion of race, racism, and other divisions in the Eastport community.
The sessions will take place from 9: 30 a.m. until noon on Sept. 11 and 25, Oct. 2 and 30, and Nov. 6 and 13, at First Baptist Church, 208 Chesapeake Ave.
Those who have expressed support for the project include Ellen Moyer, Annapolis alderman for Ward 8; Cynthia Carter, alderman of neighboring Ward 6; Lucy Oppenheim; Reginald "Mac" McHenry, a member of the Eastport Ecumenical Coalition and a member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church; Lois McGovern, who represents the Neighborhood Leadership School; Mary Harris, retired schoolteacher; Helen Leitch, who works at the Parole health center; and Yevola Peters, a consultant and trainer well known in the African-American community.
"I'm 82, and I believe very strongly in vital involvement in old age," Pollak says. "That's one of the reasons I'm doing this. I live in Admiral Heights, but I've have gone to St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Eastport for the past 25 years. It's a very, very friendly church, and it's attracting more and more people because of its friendliness."
Pollak was born in Anne Arundel County. After she married Martin Pollak, the couple moved to the West Coast. She returned to Annapolis with her small son in 1961 after her husband died. Pollak has donated seed money for this project in his memory.
If you'd like to become involved, call Elizabeth Pollak at 410-267-8470, or write for a brochure to St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Attention: Elizabeth Pollak, 1100 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403.
Pub Date: 8/16/99