The Dundalk Eagle
Soup for the Soul finds a new home, expanded mission
Soup for the Soul has been there for the community in times of need, and now, the community has stepped up for it.
Late last year, David and Stacy Nagel received sudden news that they were no longer allowed to use Dundalk United Methodist Church on Mornington Road as its base of operations. The building had been sold to a new owner without their knowledge, and no word from the new owner to vacate. In their time of need, members of the community stepped for ward.
Soup for the Soul recently secured a new building, which is located at 912 Willow Springs Dr. It is in close proximity to the former Dundalk UMC, and the organization will still be able to provide services for Old Dundalk. In addition, Soup for the Soul will have satellite locations going forward, allowing its volunteers to expand their outreach.
The Dundalk Optimist Club, located 4528 North Point Blvd., opened its building to the Nagels when its members learned that Soup for the Soul had lost its home. Stacy, the nonprofit’s director, told the Eagle that the two organizations have worked together in the past. The DOC’s community outreach, and its involvement with youth rec sports, will allow Soup for the Soul to reach a larger portion of Dundalk. Soup for the Soul will conduct a food giveaway at the Dundalk Optimist Club on March 24.
“We had a lot of offers,” Stacy Nagel said. “We would like to publicly thank [St. George’s and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church]. They did offer us a space. It wasn’t going to be conducive for us, but it was a very gracious offer.
“Also, we had some childhood friends – John and Betsy Grasham – and they are the financiers of the new building. We were lucky they stepped in. We were real excited when [John Grasham] made the phone call and tried to put in the bid on the building. When he won it, we were ecstatic.”
Some of Soup for the Soul’s volunteers also stepped in when the organization became homeless. Two volunteers are real estate agents, Stacy Nagel said, and brought the building to the Nagels’ attention. At first, securing the building appeared too expensive. Some time later, John Grasham called about the same building, she said.
“He actually found the building we had already dreamed of,” Stacy Nagel said. “We thought ‘it would be perfect. It has a what we need. It has a parking lot. It has a yard. That will be perfect.’
“It was a group effort and divine intervention.”
John Nagel said there are even more reasons why he and Stacy love the location. One is that it’s close to St. Helena, where many of their clients live. The building is on that side of Dundalk Avenue, so people will not have to cross to reach the new location. The building is only one floor, and is accessible by bus, he added.
“It’s basically ours, to do what we want with it,” John Nagel said. “Our full dream is to get with people who want to assist the community. We don’t want the building to sit there and we use it once or twice a week.”
“We’re interested in any community outreach,” Stacy Nagel added. “If anyone has a plan for that, they can definitely contact us. If they need long-term housing for an event, they can definitely call us.”
The Nagels said that members of the community can also use the new location for private events, such as holiday parties, conferences, etc. In return, they will ask for a donation to Soup for the Soul, they added.
It will take some time before they can move into their organization’s new home. John Nagel said the settlement on the building has not been finalized. The two want to make renovations to the building before opening. A date to open will be announced in the future, they said.
Charlie Martin, the secretary of the Dundalk Optimist Club, told the Eagle that with the two organizations working together, they will be able to double their resources. The Dundalk Optimist Club purchased its current building in 1992, he said, to also make it available to the community.
“We’re really excited about having them,” Martin said. “It’s not going to be the same type of operation. It’s going to be pop-up distributions. People can drive by, and we can give stuff out and things like that.”
Stacy Nagel said Martin was one of the first people she called after Soup for the Soul was told to leave its previous home. The Dundalk UMC property had been sold to a new owner, whom was not made aware that a nonprofit organization set up its base of operations there. David Nagel said he walked into the building like any other day, and was confronted by a face he did not recognize.
“I wasn’t exactly wanting to move the full operation [to the Dundalk Optimist
Club], but I wasn’t trying for us to be stagnant for any period of time,” Stacy Nagel said. “I wanted to make sure the community was still serviced while we were figuring out what we were going to do.
“[Martin] immediately said they had plenty of space, and we just needed to brainstorm. It happened the next day.”
The Nagels said they are partnering with other community outreach organizations. One is called theChesapeake Bay Bearded Villains. Another is called Operation: Underpass, started by a Soup for the Soul volunteer who prefers to go by the name DJ Rampage.
“[DJ Rampage] came up with the idea of, if people can’t come to us then let’s get to them,” John Nagel said.
Operation: Underpass mainly services people in Baltimore City, John Nagel said. DJ Rampage got the idea for the name from an underpass that sits underneath I-83. DJ Rampage has worked with Soup for the Soul for the past four years, the Nagels said. Operation: Underpass operates in a similar manner, collecting clothing, nonperishable food items and hot meals to the economically insecure.
“He’s pretty adamant about it,” Stacy Nagel said. “We’ve been collecting food and blankets and stuff for him, and he’s been continuing on with us.”
Forgive the mistakes of the past
Martin said the Dundalk Optimist Club creed has a line that he cherishes – forget the mistakes of the past, but press on to the greater achievements of the future. This situation is a perfect example of that, he said.
“We don’t look to the past, we look to the future,” Martin said. “We’re going to make differences. We have families that are starving or without shelter, and they are just as important as helping out a baseball team.”
The Nagels said they have forgiven the people at King’s Chapel, the organization that purchased the former Dundalk UMC. They recently met with the defunct church’s new owners and extended an olive branch, they said. They look forward to working with King’s Chapel in the future, they said.
“It wasn’t really their fault,” David Nagel said about having to leave. “I talked to the real estate agent and the lawyer, and it wasn’t King’s Chapel’s fault. The listing stated us. It said there was a daycare and a soup kitchen.
“When they sat down, no one said anything about us. When I showed up and [the new owner] showed up, they started asking questions like ‘who are you’ and ‘why do you have the keys to my building.’ If I were a new person, I’d like to know that, too.”
People whom are interested in learning more about Soup for the Soul – its mission and future events – can learn more by visiting their Facebook™ page “Soup for the Soul” at www.facebook.com/s4s18, or by typing “Soup for the Soul” in the search bar. People can also request information by calling 443-742-9160, or by sending an email to email@example.com.
February is Black History Month. The Baltimore County Police Department takes this opportunity to recognize African Americans
who have been pioneers in this agency.
Raised in the small community of Turner Station in eastern Baltimore County,
Gwendolyn Parrish knew she wanted a profession that helped people. After graduating from Dunbar High School in 1973, she did not consider law enforcement because of the tension between the African American residents of Turner Station and the police. Instead, she began medical classes at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Parrish later reconsidered law enforcement and joined the Baltimore County Police Department in 1980. Over the next 31 years, she worked at many different assignments and forged a trail for minorities.
Parrish’s assignments included Precinct 13 Edgemere (now closed); Precinct 12 Dundalk; Precinct 2 Woodlawn; Precinct 1 Wilkens; and the Community Oriented Police Enforcement Unit (COPE). During the four years with COPE, she received numerous letters of thanks for her problem-solving work in Baltimore County neighborhoods.
Parrish was the first female African American officer to successfully complete departmental motorcycle training. In 1999, she became the first African American woman promoted to the rank of Sergeant.
Perhaps Parrish’s greatest legacy is her role as a leader in the police minority community. Parrish was a founding member and former treasurer of the Blue Guardians and a state delegate of the National Black Police Association (NBPA). She was a lifetime member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the National
Black Police Association; as a member she enthusiastically participated in international conferences and other educational activities.
At the time of her death in September 2011, Parrish had served the community as a Baltimore County Police
Officer longer than any other African American woman.
Sergeant Gwendolyn L. Parrish will be remembered as a pioneer for minorities who was dedicated to the community she ser ved.