“In honor of our neighbors in Franklin Square.” “In honor of all our UM School of Nursing students.” “In honor of the UMB Faculty Senate.”
These are just some of the inscriptions on the bricks that make up Welcome Way, outside the new University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Community Engagement Center (CEC) at 16 S. Poppleton St. Welcome Way, at the entrance to the CEC, was installed in August.
“With the opening of the new center, UMB wanted a way to further physically demonstrate that we are all part of one community,” said Larry Kushner, associate vice president, Office of Philanthropy. “A Welcome Way of bricks with names of UMB friends and donors, faculty and staff, students and alumni, and our West Baltimore neighbors felt like an appropriate way to do just that. We wanted something that also would have lasting value, where generations to come would know what was done initially when the doors to the new CEC first opened.”
Over 270 donors sponsored more than 560 bricks and pavers, according to Kate Tafelski, MPP, senior program specialist, Office of Philanthropy, who added that there is a brick for each of the seven neighborhoods in the Southwest Partnership and a brick recognizing the students at each of the seven UMB schools.
“The Welcome Way is just a small piece of the growing community connection between the University and our West Baltimore neighbors,” she said. “It is a starting point, a reminder of hope and possibility, for all the good to come into and out of the Community Engagement Center.”
Dana Rampolla, assistant director of marketing, alumni communications and special projects for the University, was so moved by two girls she met while working with the CEC that she decided to dedicate a brick to them.
“They opened my eyes to how marvelously children can thrive when afforded the opportunity to have a safe place to play, do homework, and connect with positive role models,” she said. “In the simplest of words, they were cute little girls who I felt fortunate to connect with through the fabulous programs at UMB’s CEC.”
Rampolla wasn’t sure if the children had seen their brick yet.
“I was happy to learn that the pavers had been installed, especially with the complications of COVID-19,” she said. “I hope when the girls see their names it excites them and makes them happy to know that someone still thinks of them, even during these uncertain times when we are not allowed to see each other in person in ‘regular ways.’ ”
Joshua M. Abzug, MD, associate professor, Departments of Orthopedics and Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, dedicated a brick to the UMB Faculty Senate, of which he serves as president.
Abzug said the Faculty Senate wanted to support the CEC because “the faculty at UMB feels that we are very connected to our surrounding community, and part of that is our partnership with our neighbors in West Baltimore.”
If you missed your chance to support the CEC through Welcome Way, there are other ways to make an impact for the CEC and its neighbors, according to Kushner.
“First, we have an emerging ‘Digital Divide’ program to provide broadband access to families near the CEC who have been without. We are seeking donations to underwrite up to 1,000 families at a cost of $120 a year per family,” he said. “Second, there are exciting naming opportunities within the new CEC, such as classrooms, for an individual or company. Each of these will make high impact for the CEC while knowing these named locations are in perpetuity.”