Why do you volunteer your time specifically with this organization?
I’ve always had an involved volunteering background, and like to volunteer in the communities I live in. I wanted to find an organization in Baltimore that assisted homeless veterans. BOMF has 4 shelters in the downtown community, and a large chunk of those members are veterans who are homeless, jobless, some with substance abuse problems in different spectrums of getting “back on their feet.” The organization also spoke to me because I am a former athlete (and an early riser!), so when I learned about their running component (they run at 5:30am, 3 days a week) and how that can affect someone’s perspective with a sense of community, companionship and self-improvement (getting out there and feeling better about themselves) instead of just handing them a job or money. It is a really unique model to help someone holistically and not just one aspect of their life.
The Young Professionals Board is comprised of young professionals in the greater Baltimore community, some of which are non-resident members who run with the teams and some who don’t but believe in the mission of BOMF. We partner with the Executive Director of the organization, as well as marketing and other internal resources within BOMF to help facilitate, fundraise and execute on events throughout the year. We have an annual fundraising gala, a distance running event, and a volleyball tournament, all focused on raising important funds for the organization.
Does this organization affect Baltimore as a whole?
Improving any city is making sure that you are engaging with every community within that city—from the wealthiest to the most underserved. Part of revitalizing a city that needs that is sometimes looking for the potential of those most overlooked—helping them find jobs, homes, help to alleviate the barriers that may prevent them from being reintegrated into the community by helping clear background checks, etc.
What is your favorite memory of working with this organization?
I joined because I liked the volunteering, but once I started running and getting to know the resident members better, I learned that a lot of them had criminal records that are barriers to them getting jobs and housing—in talking with the executive director of BOMF I learned that they didn’t have an internal process for getting those records expunged. My interest in getting involved with the young professionals board was to jump start an expungement program to expunge early in the process for our members, so by the time they are through the program and looking to reenter the world via housing or job, their records are already clean and they don’t miss out on an opportunity for housing or with an employer.