Struggling Baltimoreans have another place to turn for help

Catholic Charities dedicates Our Daily Bread Employment Center

May 25, 2007|By Liz F. Kay .. | Liz F. Kay ..,sun reporter

Elected and religious figures gathered yesterday to dedicate the new Our Daily Bread Employment Center on Fallsway, designed to offer new opportunities to disadvantaged people.

The 52,000-square-foot building, constructed on land donated by the city, cost $15 million in public funds and private donations to build. It will house three Catholic Charities programs of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, including Our Daily Bread, the city's largest soup kitchen, and employment services.

"We see this building as a beacon in the community, calling people to change their lives, calling employers to hire people we've prepared and calling volunteers and supporters to keep us going," said Mary Anne O'Donnell, Catholic Charities' community services director.

Cardinal William H. Keeler described the center as the second great contribution the church has made to Baltimore in less than a year. The first, he said, was the restored Basilica of the Assumption, returning to its rightful position as a monument to religious freedom.

"Now we prepare to open the doors of another kind of monument, for another kind of freedom," Keeler said. The new center "stands as a monument for the disadvantaged, the marginalized and the forlorn" and will offer the assistance people need to overcome poverty, he said.

On June 4, Our Daily Bread will begin serving lunches seven days a week. It will offer employment services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and limited times on weekends.

In addition, the new center will house Christopher Place, a residential job training program for formerly homeless men, and Maryland Re-Entry Partnership, which helps incarcerated men rejoin their communities.

Gov. Martin O'Malley told the group gathered in the new dining room that he was proud not only to be a Catholic but also to be a former Baltimorean and a Marylander.

"We are coming together to lead the way, to break the circle of poverty because we know there is dignity in every individual, and in our city and in our state there is no such thing as a spare American," O'Malley said.

Christopher Place resident Lamont Chamberlain, 50, was excited about moving into the center next week.

"What they're offering the city, what they're offering the guys that's fallen down on their knees like me, it's a really great shot of hope for a person that wants this," he said.

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