The basketball court at the Brooklyn Homes community was nearly unrecognizable on Good Friday. Tables covered with essential items lined the perimeter of the outdoor court. Groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothes, jackets, shoes and toys—every item was free to any family with a child present. Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott was giving out shirts and shoes.
“This event means a lot,” said LaToya Brodie. “I’m a single mother doing the best I can, so it’s great to see someone giving back to our community and making sure we have things we really need for our homes. It’s really nice seeing everyone come together.”
The group that organized the event is usually better known for interrupting violence on the streets—particularly to prevent shootings. But Catholic Charities’ Safe Streets programs also hold these giveaways to build community.
Longtime Brooklyn Homes resident Pat Branch attended the event with her 3-year-old granddaughter.
“People need to know somebody cares,” she said. “It’s not all about being seen on TV and what can be said, but more about what can be done.”
Safe Streets is based on the premise that violence is a public health issue. By linking individuals and their families with educational opportunities, employment training and assistance, along with other crucial services, Safe Streets Brooklyn-Curtis Bay Program Director Corey Winfield believes it could mean one less senseless death for a family.
“So many people are simply trying to survive the best way they know how,” said Winfield. “But every mother I see that has lost their child to gun violence has a familiar pain in their eyes, and it’s a look I don’t want to see again. So having events like this is my way of saying, ‘I know I can’t bring your child back but I swear by my life, I’ll try my best to save the next one.’”
The spring giveaway was sponsored by Catholic Charities Safe Streets Brooklyn, Kingdom Life Church, Greater Baybrook Alliance, and Bearded Villains.