Another handful of helping hands

Players

December 04, 2005

This year, the Annie E. Casey foundation, a national organization headquartered in Baltimore that focuses on the problems of children, families and communities, honored people in this city whose personal contributions have been extraordinary.

Last week, this feature spotlighted some of their good works. Here are the stories of more of these community achievers:

TALIB HORNE

Since he became executive director of the East Harbor Community Development Corporation in 2001, Talib Horne has worked with 75 community partners to bring business, real estate and financial opportunities to East Baltimore.

He led a group of neighborhood residents intent on persuading the city to turn an abandoned firehouse into a community center. "We had conversations and demonstrations," he recalled, "and it finally happened."

After renovations are completed, the old firehouse will have a technology center and a financial services center. It also is expected to become a hub for community programs and services.

"The neighborhood is changing drastically," said Horne, who worries that rising housing costs will drive out the families he has been trying to support. "Will people still be able to afford to live here?" he said. "That's our new challenge."

LEON PURNELL

The decline of his East Baltimore neighborhood does not sit easily with Leon Purnell. A therapist and executive director of The Men's Center, Purnell helps men get back on their feet and reconnect with themselves and their families.

Housed in a storefront, The Men's Center offers medical care, counseling, employment referrals and support for "men who are dead broke, coming off drugs and without a job."

He works with fathers to sort out child-support issues and re-establish relationships with their children.

"So many youth are in prison, mad at their fathers because they weren't there for them. Now, they have kids," Purnell observed. "My thing is to help them change that pattern."

ILEANA LUCIANI

Ileana Luciani worries every day about the educational challenges Baltimore's estimated 40,000 Spanish-speaking residents face. Born in Cuba and raised in New York, Luciani is outreach coordinator to the Latino community for the Maryland Disability Law Center and the executive director of the Latino Providers Network. She helps immigrant parents navigate the school system, and educates them about their rights.

"Many Latino parents don't feel welcome in the schools," she said. They don't share a common language with mostly English-speaking educators, and school policies and expectations often confound them. "Parents need to be a voice for their child and not be scared, even if they are undocumented," she said.

The photos above and others that accompanied last week's Achievers were taken by Carl Clark and Linda Day Clark.

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