Reservoir Hill’s island of stability eyes face-lift
In a matter of months during his fourth-grade year at Waverly Elementary School in Baltimore, Martin Walker Jr. went from being an average student in his first two quarters to an honor-roll member in his final two marking periods.
His father credits the staff and the education courses at St. Francis Neighborhood Center in West Baltimore with his son’s academic improvement.
“I’m so grateful that this organization is here,” said Martin Walker Sr., a handyman who lives about a block from the center in Reservoir Hill. “I can’t imagine what he would be into without this center.”
Scott K. Thompson is hoping the center can produce more success stories after undergoing a dramatic makeover. The executive director of DuraBante, a management consulting firm in Sparks, and treasurer of the center’s board of directors, Thompson is organizing an Oct. 17 golf invitational to benefit St. Francis at Hillendale Country Club in Phoenix.
Proceeds will go toward the center’s Count On Me Campaign, a project designed to renovate and expand the historic four-story townhouse at the corner of Linden Avenue and Whitelock Street. The plan’s first phase — replacing the roof of the facility, founded in 1963 by the late Rev. Thomas F. Composto — began in August.
The second part of the proposal involves at least doubling the center’s 6,000 square feet of space by adding classrooms, an art studio, a media lab and library and multipurpose space. Christi Green, executive director at St. Francis, said the institution has raised about $500,000 of the project’s $4 million price tag.
The center, which works with 100 children ages 5 to 14 through education programs and has served 36,000 people overall, needs a face-lift. Paint in some rooms has flaked off the walls. The frame of the kitchen door had to be removed to fit a refrigerator through.
Thompson connected with St. Francis after his son Connor and his Boy Scout troop visited the center on several occasions to distribute Christmas presents. Working with the facility since this past winter, Thompsonsaid he was struck by the fact that many students and their families sought solace at St. Francis during the days of unrest after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered while in police custody in Baltimore.
“The kids gravitated to the center as a safe place,” he said. “So they really see it as an extension to their homes.”
Young people study at St. Francis Neighborhood Center’s youth development program.