Readers Respond

October 24, 2009

Clarisse Mechanic made Maryland better

Clarisse Mechanic leaves a legacy of having made Baltimore City and the state of Maryland better places to live. Citizens of Maryland and visitors are grateful to Morris and Clarisse Mechanic for their personal gift - no taxpayer dollars - of the beautiful Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, where for decades we were treated to great Broadway plays and other national and international performances. Acoustics were state-of-the-art and the seats were roomy and very comfortable. Many memorable parties were held at the Mechanic Theatre.

What many people don't know is that Mrs. Mechanic's love for the theater was overshadowed by her love for humankind. In addition to the many accolades that Jacques Kelly wrote in his article about Mrs. Mechanic ("A mainstay in local theater, believer in children's causes," Oct. 19), she was compassionate, with a passion to help anyone who was in need or any organization whose mission was to help those in need. It didn't matter if Mrs. Mechanic was familiar with the cause or if she received requests from other worthy causes; she did not hesitate to give.

She visited the prisons, served on the board of Signal 13 to help city police, donated funds yearly to Chase Elementary School in Baltimore County and gave thousands of dollars to area hospitals and nonprofit health care organizations, organizations for young girls in need of mentoring and organizations that feed the hungry. She helped cancer patients and donated shoes for children. In those cases and more, Mrs. Mechanic stepped up to the plate with her generous donations.

Clarisse Mechanic's interests varied. When the Arena Playhouse on McCulloh Street was built and needed seating for its patrons, Mrs. Mechanic donated 300 seats from the Mechanic Theatre without much fanfare. There are so many more philanthropic stories to share about Clarisse Mechanic, and many fascinating stories about her glitzy life with Hollywood stars who would travel to Baltimore to visit her and Mr. Mechanic.

I hope someday there will be a book written about the great, unassuming Clarisse Mechanic, who leaves a rich legacy.

Phyllis Reese, BaltimoreThe writer is a trustee of the Morris A. Mechanic Foundation.

A patron of the schools

My first memories of Clarisse Mechanic are from a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Chase Elementary School almost 13 years ago. She purchased some new playground equipment for our school, including a large wooden fire engine that is still used every day by the children at Chase. This was the first of many contributions that she made to the Chase students, families and staff.

There is not a room in the school that doesn't serve as an ongoing reminder of her generosity.

Televisions in classrooms, Promethean boards, laptop computers, the school sign, fans in the classrooms and new shelving and cabinets in our storage area all serve as daily reminders of her ongoing thoughtfulness and frequent contributions to our school. In recent weeks, we received yet another donation that will allow us to add new technology to our library.

But Mrs. Mechanic was cherished for much more than the monetary donations that she made on a regular basis. When we needed outstanding role models for the girls in our female leadership group, Mrs. Mechanic was there for them. She allowed the girls to interview her and was always complimentary and helpful to each of them. She supported many of the Chase events and was always a cherished guest and honorary grandmother at our yearly grandparents' breakfasts. The children loved to spend time talking or reading to her, and she always made each student, parent and teacher feel special.

I also treasured the many conversations we had about children. She was a true believer in the worth of each child. We felt honored when she allowed us to name our library after her. The Mrs. Clarisse Mechanic Media Center will serve as an ongoing reminder of her many contributions to our school.

Mrs. Mechanic will be missed by everyone at Chase, but she will never be forgotten. She lives on in the memories of the students, staff and families at Chase.

Sharon WhitlockThe writer is principal of Chase Elementary School.

Choice program saves money

As a former Choice Jobs Program employee, I can attest that Georgia Martin is 100 percent correct concerning the programs available to juvenile offenders (Readers respond, Oct. 21). While with Choice, I saw firsthand the positive impact Choice had on their lives. Choice caseworkers helped youth stay out of trouble, stay in school, apply to college, take the GED and experience opportunities they would not have been exposed to otherwise.

The Choice Program costs the state roughly $25 per day per youth enrolled. The only option the state now has for those youth is detainment at a correctional facility, which costs the state $350 per day per youth. How is that cutting the budget? How is that spending our taxes wisely? How is that helping to rehabilitate youth?

Choice was an excellent resource for juveniles, their families and their communities. The state should be fighting to expand Choice, not cutting it by over 50 percent. The Department of Juvenile Services made a terrible mistake in deciding to close Choice offices, and we, the taxpayers, will be the ones paying for their shortsighted handling of the situation.

Nicole Mooney, Sykesville

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