Local church to celebrate center's opening

New Shiloh completes phase of `village' project

September 08, 2001|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

West Baltimore's "milk bottle building," once owned by Cloverland Dairy, is back in business - this time delivering services designed to meet the community's social needs.

At 9:30 a.m. today, officials will celebrate the opening of the New Shiloh Village Family Development Center, housed in the former dairy building between Mondawmin and Sandtown-Winchester.

The center is intended to provide services ranging from prenatal care to family counseling.

Additional buildings will provide GED instruction and vocational training. Officials have purchased several buildings in a 3-block radius of the New Shiloh Baptist Church. When completed, the village - which also calls for a 120-unit, low-income apartment complex for the elderly - will encompass about 14 acres.

"We'll create an explosion for redevelopment, we believe, in this section of the community," said Michael Barland, president of the New Shiloh Village Family Development Center board of directors.

Barland said the village concept is a throwback to the civil rights movement, which was beginning to assume an economic character when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968. "They were talking about our buying our own banks and building our own factories and owning businesses," Barland said. "This is a manifestation of that. And, more importantly than being a manifestation of their dream, it is a model that can be duplicated, not just here in Baltimore but around the country."

Barland said New Shiloh purchased the dairy building one block north of the church on Monroe Street for about $500,000 nearly six years ago. Funding is being provided by private lending institutions, banks, foundations, state bonds and government funds, including grants.

"The first phase was to actually tear down some of the buildings and to increase the church's parking space," for its approximately 6,000 members, he said.

But the planned village isn't exclusively for New Shiloh members. Barland said the church wants to help as many people as possible. About 12,000 square feet of the former dairy building will house a day care center and several offices, including space for battered women.

"Some of the biggest needs here are health care," Barland said. "One of the most drug-infested communities in the entire city is to the south of where we are. ... We're also going to help people with literacy. We're in partnership with other nonprofits that are already working in the community ... on things like low-income housing developments, home ownership, trash collection and community policing ... so this is a combined chemistry of what the church is doing and what the community has already been doing for a while."

Groundbreaking on the vocational training center and a multi-purpose center is expected early next year, and construction for the apartment complex for the elderly could begin in August, he said.

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