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Lexington Market’s Crab Derby Offers Free Tickets to UMB Community

Lexington Market’s 2018 Crab Derby Festival is being moved to inside the market Thursday because of the forecast for rain, but here’s a bright spot: The event is offering free general admission tickets to all University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) students, staff, and faculty members who present their UMB ID.

In addition, if a member of the UMB community wants to bring a friend or family member (kids 16 and under are free), they can get 20 percent off the price of tickets and ticket packages, which include food, drink and VIP packages. Also, those tickets can be purchased at the door as well, not just online.

The Crab Derby Festival  will run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will feature live music from Strykers’ Posse; food from vendors such as Faidley’s Seafood and Connie’s Chicken & Waffles; local craft beer, wine, and signature cocktails; a kids zone with games, crafts, and activities; and — of course — crab racing.

For more details, go to the Lexington Market website.

Lou CortinaBulletin Board, For B'more, University LifeMay 15, 20180 comments
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Live Near Your Work Grant Hits Home as UMB Employees Buy Houses

When the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) relaunched the Live Near Your Work Program this year, President Jay A. Perman, MD, detailed the initiative’s upgrades, putting a focus on the University’s new $1.5 million commitment. Perman said he expected the revised grant from UMB – which increased from $2,500 to $16,000 — to be a “game-changer” for the program when applications opened in late January.

After 3½ months, the game indeed has changed in a big way — and UMB employees Vonetta Edwards, PhD, and C. Steven Douglas, MA, MLS, can attest to that. Both have used the money to help buy homes in Hollins Market, one of seven neighborhoods adjacent to UMB eligible for the program, joining a half-dozen other employees who’ve taken the plunge into homeownership with aid from UMB, with more prospects in the pipeline.

Edwards, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the School of Medicine (UMSOM), moved into her new home in Hollins Market this month, using the grant that includes $16,000 from UMB and $2,500 from the city of Baltimore to help with the down payment and closing costs. As intended, the funds served as a cash catalyst, pushing her to action.

“This is a great program, and it propelled me from thinking about purchasing a home to actually doing it,” said Edwards, who has worked at UMB for 5½ years and had been living in an apartment in Mount Vernon. “Especially for first-time homebuyers, the amount that covers both closing costs and the down payment is almost too good to leave on the table. Even if you do not see it as your ‘forever’ home, you are getting in as the areas develop, so you can consider it an investment.”

Douglas is head of collection strategies and management at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library and a 16-year UMB employee. He had been renting in Hollins Market, and the grant helped him buy a house in the neighborhood. “Its proximity to campus, downtown, and the harbor first attracted me,” he said.

The new homebuyers follow Shea Lawson, a research project coordinator at the Brain and Tissue Bank at UMSOM who was the first UMB employee to close on a home using the new Live Near Your Work (LNYW) grant and moved into a home in Pigtown in March. (Read Shea’s story.) Pigtown/Washington Village,  Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, Mount Clare, Poppleton, and Union Square are the program’s seven targeted neighborhoods.

‘Very Pleased With Progress’

At a news conference launching the revamped program in January, attended by Mayor Catherine Pugh, Perman referred to LNYW as Dawn Rhodes’ “baby,” and Rhodes, MBA, the University’s chief business and finance officer and vice president, is thrilled with her baby’s growth. “We are very pleased with the progress of the improved Live Near Your Work Program,” she said. “It is helping very deserving individuals become homeowners.”

Emily Kordish, UMB benefits manager and coordinator of the LNYW Program, has been helping to guide employees through the process. She’s equally thrilled with the results.

“I’m extremely excited and honored to be a part of a program that has been making such a big impact in our employees’ lives,” Kordish said. “Employees have been contacting me not only to take advantage of this benefit, but to also take the steps so they can be ready to buy. This has truly been a rewarding experience.”

Edwards and Douglas attended an LNYW Program employee kickoff session and information panel at the SMC Campus Center on Jan. 11 and took part in the homebuying counseling sessions and neighborhood tours sponsored by Live Baltimore, one of the initiative’s community partners.

“The counseling sessions provided lots of useful information that helped to demystify the homebuying process,” Douglas said. “And the trolley tour gave me an opportunity to interview real estate agents.”

Edwards said she loved the trolley tour because it gave her a good overview of neighborhoods that she wasn’t too familiar with. “I had heard the names of all of them but did not have a mental geographic map of how they were spread out,” she said. “The tour also allowed you to see which neighborhoods you would be comfortable living in.”

As for the counseling sessions, Edwards said, “They allowed me to determine what payments I felt comfortable with and thus how much house to look for. They also brought up issues and situations that I had not thought about in buying a house, like monthly security system payments, the home warranty, and such.”

Reaping the Benefits

Now that she’s in Hollins Market, Edwards says living close to her workplace is a great benefit.

“I do bench research and sometimes have to come in on the weekend,” she said. “So a 10-minute walk in, or five minutes on the orange circulator, beats a 20- or 40-minute bus ride in, plus public transportation on the weekend is not extremely reliable.”

Another perk? “I still get to avoid purchasing a car,” Edwards said.

Both UMB employees praised the program, its community partners, and its facilitators, including Kordish and Daibeth Saunders, development officer for the city of Baltimore.

“The process was amazingly easy,” Douglas said. “Emily here on campus, Daibeth with the city, my real estate agent, and my mortgage agent all worked together to get me into the house.”

“I would like to thank Emily Kordish and Daibeth Saunders for making this a seamless process,” Edwards said. “I also thank UMB leadership for facilitating this process and making my first home a reality.”

— Lou Cortina

Lou CortinaFor B'more, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeMay 15, 20181 comment
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‘Train2Work’ Event on June 7 Offers Youth Employment Information

The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Workforce Initiatives is partnering with the westside YO! Baltimore Center and the Southwest Partnership’s Southwest Works to host a Train2Work Open House on June 7 at the UM Bio Park. This is an opportunity to share free career training opportunities with young people in our community. Please share this information with your friends and family.

Here are the details:

  • Date: Thursday, June 7
  • Time: 10:30 a.m. to noon
  • Where: UM BioPark Life Sciences Conference Center, 801 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201
  • RSVP: Go to this EventBrite webpage to sign up and get more information or call Lisa Rawlings, director of job readiness and workforce initiatives in the UMB Office of Community Engagement, at 410-706-1931 (office) or 410-706-8260 (Community Engagement Center).
  • Note: UMB Workforce Initiatives creates opportunities for community members in West Baltimore to find career training and job opportunities. It also develops local workforce partnerships with external stakeholders, including the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, K-12 public schools, community organizations, nonprofits, and local businesses.

Click for the event flyer.

Lisa RawlingsCommunity Service, For B'more, University LifeMay 15, 20180 comments
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The President’s Message

Check out the May issue of The President’s Message.

It includes the following:

  • Dr. Perman’s column on a new home for our Community Engagement Center
  • A recap of IPE Day
  • A look ahead to commencement
  • Dr. Robert Redfield’s appointment as CDC director
  • A Women’s History Month celebration of Dr. Angela Brodie
  • Shock Trauma’s Stop the Bleed program
  • A roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements
Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Administration, University Life, USGAMay 10, 20180 comments
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Med Students, Surgeons Share College/Career Advice with Local High Schoolers

On April 16, a group of first-year students from the University of Maryland School of Medicine hosted 23 freshmen from the PTECH School at Dunbar for a panel discussion on college and health care careers. This was followed by “Stop the Bleed” training provided by trauma surgeons from the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Stop the Bleed is a national campaign designed to prepare laypersons to address life-threatening bleeding after everyday emergencies or natural disasters. It is sponsored by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma.

The PTECH School at Dunbar is a new six-year high school program that featuesg integrated high school and college coursework leading to an industry recognized postsecondary degree in a health care field (physical therapy, nursing, health information technology, and respiratory care) for all enrolled students. As an industry partner and Baltimore anchor institution, UMB partners with PTECH to provide campus-based learning opportunities and mentors from the University community.

The April 16 activity was organized by first-year medical students and panelists Dominique Gelmann, Mohammad Hadavand, Molly Himmelrich, Atizaz Hussain, and Madeleine Smith, in partnership with trauma surgeons Laura Buchanan, MD, Sharon Henry, MD, Habeeba Park, MD, Jason Pasley, DO, and the UMB Office of Community Engagement (OCE). Participating students gained valuable information about general preparation for higher education and specifics on how to prepare now for future careers in medicine.

Alexia Smith, corporate education liaison for PTECH, said about the visit, “The information our students gained from this experience was invaluable! Not only did they learn to start thinking critically and early about the process of continuing their education beyond their high school diploma and associate degrees, they gained a valuable skill in the Stop the Bleeding training, which can help them save people’s lives. The kids were ecstatic, and this experience really helped build their confidence. Thank you!”

OCE challenges student groups, staff, and faculty across the UMB campus to develop creative ways to share their chosen career paths with our K-12 partners. If you, your student organization, or department would like to propose such an activity or gain assistance in developing creative ways to engage our community partners, please contact Brian Sturdivant, MSW, director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, via email at or by calling 410-706-1678.

Brian SturdivantCollaboration, Community Service, Education, For B'more, USGAApril 18, 20180 comments
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Integrative Medicine Congress to be Held in Baltimore in May

The International Congress on Integrative Medicine & Health will take place at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront on May 8-11, 2018. The congress is convened by the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health, a group of 71 esteemed academic health centers and affiliated institutions. The consortium is committed to making this congress the premier international forum for integrative medicine research.

The congress will bring together the best and the brightest working globally in the field of integrative medicine and health. Connect, share, learn, and collaborate in this dynamic community, where the leading work is being done via research, clinical care, policy, and education.

Former Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland will be the special guest speaker. Other speakers include UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD; Alessio Fasano, MD; Steven Woolf, MD, MPH; Peter Wayne, PhD; Tracy Gaudet, MD; and Helene Langevin, MD.

Additionally, faculty and staff from the University of Maryland School of Medicine will have posters and presentations on a variety of topics and several faculty members will be leading after-hours events.

Integrative medicine is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, and is informed by evidence. Integrative medicine includes many disciplines, types of practitioners, and therapeutic approaches; the evidence base is complex and growing quickly. The International Congress on Integrative Medicine & Health focuses on the evidence base in the practice of integrative medicine. We expect more than 1,200 researchers, clinicians, and trainees from around the world to attend. The congress organizers invite individuals from all disciplines and professions engaged in integrative medicine and health to attend.

The congress will showcase original scientific research through keynote and plenary sessions, oral and poster presentations, and innovative sessions. Research areas to be presented and discussed include basic science, clinical trials, lifestyle and prevention, methodology, health services, cost effectiveness, and education.

For more information and to register, visit this link.

Rebekah OwensBulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Education, For B'more, People, Research, UMB NewsApril 17, 20180 comments
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Green Street Academy Students Visit School of Pharmacy

On the morning of April 9, a group of 33 high school students with aspirations in health-related careers visited UMB from Green Street Academy in West Baltimore to learn about careers in pharmacy.

Students participated in a walking tour of the UMB campus that culminated with a presentation on careers in pharmacy at Pharmacy Hall. While at the School of Pharmacy, students toured the Fred Abramson Pharmacy Practice Lab, Walgreens Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) rooms, the IV Lab, the Pharmacy Hall museum, and lecture halls.

Students also learned how they will need to prepare now if they think they’re interested in a career in pharmacy. The pharmacy presentation and building tour was developed by JuliAna Brammer, MBA, director of admissions, Records and Registration, and Patrice Sharp, office manager, Student Affairs, and it was led by third-year student Gloria Rinomhota.

“Oftentimes, students may not be aware of the diverse areas that pharmacists practice,” Brammer said. “We find that information given by our current pharmacy students, along with presentations and hands-on activities, helps to engage and expose K-12 students to careers in pharmacy.”

UMB’s Office of Community Engagement works to develop relationships with public schools in West Baltimore and leverage campus resources to meet needs identified by these schools, with career exposure being among the top requests.

OCE challenges student groups, staff, and faculty across the UMB campus to develop creative ways to share their chosen career paths with our K-12 partners. If you, your student organization, or department would like to propose such an activity or gain assistance in developing creative ways to engage our community partners, please contact Brian Sturdivant, MSW, director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, via email at or by calling 410-706-1678.

Brian SturdivantCommunity Service, Education, For B'moreApril 12, 20180 comments
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On Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs Tour, You Get to Know Poe

Lu Ann Marshall has been giving tours of the Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs for 38 years, so when she asked the UMB group attending her April 4 presentation how many were there because they love Edgar Allan Poe, she was shocked that not a single hand went up.

“OK, I’m leaving then,” joked Marshall, who is an academic coordinator at the Francis King Carey School of Law. “Well, actually, I’m going to talk about Poe for a while, so maybe you’ll love him when I’m done.”

Indeed, as the group of nearly 40 UMB employees, students, and staff sitting in church pews beneath Westminster Hall listened intently, Marshall offered up fascinating tales about Poe, the 19th-century American writer best known for his short stories and poetry. Poe died at age 40 in Baltimore in 1849 and is buried along with his mother-in-law and wife inside the hall’s gates at the corner of Fayette and Greene streets.

During the tour, which was organized by UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture in cooperation with the law school, Marshall also spoke about the history of Westminster Hall, once a 19th-century Presbyterian church, and its graveyard. She told of Frank the Body Snatcher, the janitor who would steal corpses for medical school students to study. She talked about ghost hunters and reports of paranormal activity in the catacombs. And she discussed the dignitaries buried there, most notably Samuel Smith, a former U.S. senator, House representative, Baltimore mayor, and military general who was responsible for the defense of Baltimore in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

“When Smith died in 1839, the city of Baltimore basically closed and everybody went to his funeral,” Marshall said. “He should be the most famous person buried here.”

If not for Poe, of course. “Yes, Poe is our big draw,” Marshall said.

And what about Poe? Marshall delivered a series of interesting stories, including:

  • Poe was popular with children, but less so with adults. “He used to walk down the street and kids would follow him after ‘The Raven’ came out and get him to recite the poem,” Marshall said. “But people were a little skittish about him. He was not a monster, and he respected women, but he had this wicked sense of humor and a wicked imagination, and that’s what got him into trouble.”
  • He married his first cousin, Virginia, but that was not uncommon in the mid-19th century. “That kept not only the family name, especially if you were prominent, but it also kept the money within the family,” she said, adding that Poe was 26 and Virginia 13 when they married, also not unusual back then. “Young girls married men who were old enough to support the family, so a lot of times their husbands were in their 20s and 30s or beyond.”
  • Virginia died in 1847 at age 24 and was buried in New York. About 40 years later, the graveyard was being moved, so the cemetery’s caretaker took her remains, mostly bones by then, and stored them under his bed for a year while he raised money to travel to Baltimore to reunite her with Poe. “Now, that is a Poe fan,” Marshall said. “He brought her to Baltimore and insisted on placing her in a bronze casket, and she was placed under the Poe monument.”
  • The circumstances surrounding Poe’s death add to his mysterious legend. He was found unconscious in the doorway to a polling place on Lombard Street, near what is now Little Italy, and died five days later, she said. “God, help my poor, tortured soul,” were among his last words. “There have been about 25 reasons given as potential causes of his death, including alcoholism and drug addiction,” Marshall said. “There’s even a theory that he died from rabies, which is interesting for someone who wrote ‘The Black Cat.’ On his death certificate, it said ‘brain fever.’ If they didn’t know what you died from, that was listed as the cause.”
  • Poe was a distinctive dresser and easy to recognize. “He always wore a very nice black hat, carried a silver-tipped cane, and always wore a black suit with cravat tie,” Marshall said. But when Poe was found unconscious before his death, he was wearing dirty work boots and pants that were too short and tied with a rope. This led to the theory that Poe was cooping, a 19th-century practice in which men were forced to vote repeatedly for the same candidate in an election. They would be “cooped up” in a warehouse, given drugged liquor, and taken to polling places in different clothing or disguises to evade detection.

These are but a few of the stories about Poe that are central to the Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs Tour. The Westminster Preservation Trust, which owns the hall and grounds, sponsors tours four times a month from April through November, during weddings at the site, and for individual group outings.

Leading the way, always, is Marshall, who calls it a labor of love.

“I’ve always been fascinated by history – and graveyards,” she says. “My father and I used to enjoy driving through graveyards, so this kind of combined two of my loves.”

— Lou Cortina

To learn more about the upcoming events at Westminster Hall, click here.

Lou CortinaFor B'more, People, University LifeApril 9, 20180 comments
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Halal on the Lawn: Bring Donations, Get Free Food on April 20

The Neuroscience Outreach & Volunteer Association’s (NOVA) Fifth Annual Halal on the Lawn will be held April 20 on the School of Nursing Lawn. There will be food, lawn games, music, and more, and NOVA will be collecting donations to use as prizes at its monthly Bingo events for the patients at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, Md. As a thank you for donations, NOVA will provide free Halal in return!

Here are the event details:

  • What: Fifth Annual Halal on the Lawn
  • When: Friday, April 20
  • Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Where: School of Nursing Lawn
  • Requested donations: Adult clothing, including shoes; toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.); activities (books, games, Sudoku puzzles, etc.).
  • Co-sponsors: NOVA and the University Student Government Association (USGA)
Kasey GirvenCommunity Service, For B'more, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAApril 9, 20180 comments
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April 18: Nurses for Global Health’s 11th Annual Conference

The interprofessional student group Nurses for Global Health will host its 11th Annual Conference on April 18 at the School of Social Work Auditorium. The title of this year’s conference is “Global Health on Edge: What in the World is Going On?”

The conference will focus on emergent issues in global health, including gun violence, disaster preparedness and response, and social isolation. These critical global health issues will be examined through a global and local lens via a stellar lineup of speakers (see below).

Here are the event details:

  • What: Nurses for Global Health 11th Annual Conference
  • When: Wednesday, April 18
  • Time: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Where: School of Social Work Auditorium, 525 W. Redwood St.
  • Registration: Go to this link.

The speakers include:

  • Erricka Bridgeford, The Baltimore Sun 2017 Marylander of the Year, Baltimore Ceasefire
  • Capt. Patrick Denis, MBA, BSN, RN, CHEP, Medical Reserve Corps, U.S. Public Health Service
  • Sacoby Wilson, PhD, MS, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health
  • Capt. Aisha Mix, DNP, MPH, MSN, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services




Anne BrennerBulletin Board, Education, For B'more, People, University Life, USGAApril 6, 20180 comments
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The President’s Message

Check out the April issue of The President’s Message.

It includes:

  • Dr. Perman’s column on Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and the global/local movement she’s helped shape
  • Recaps of the employee recognition luncheon and human trafficking lecture
  • A story on how the Housekeeping Department has benefited from UMB’s Project SEARCH, which trains and hires individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • CURE Corner spotlights
  • A story on the first employee to benefit from our improved Live Near Your Work Program
  • A roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements
Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Life, USGAApril 4, 20180 comments
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Rock the Smokeout 2018: Support Tobacco Cessation Efforts on April 13

Students Promoting Awareness (SPA) presents the 10th annual Rock the Smokeout , a fundraising event designed to raise awareness about tobacco cessation, on April 13 at Pickles Pub. This USGA-sponsored fundraiser is a Battle of the Bands event, featuring bands from different schools within the University.

  • Date: Friday, April 13
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Site: Pickles Pub, 520 Washington Blvd.
  • Tickets: $5 for UMB students, $7 for non-UMB students

Come and join SPA in raising money for CEASE Baltimore while enjoying live music, food, raffles and more! Stop by Pharmacy Hall between noon and 2 p.m. from April 9 to April 13 to purchase tickets or Rock the Smokeout T-shirts. Tickets and T-shirts also will be sold at the door on the night of the event.

Jordan ParkeFor B'more, People, University Life, USGAMarch 28, 20180 comments
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Peek Behind the Red Curtain at Hippodrome Backstage Tour

The UMB Council for the Arts & Culture invites you to take an exclusive look behind the red curtain with a Hippodrome Theatre Backstage Tour on Thursday, April 19, at noon.

Stand on the stage like you are the star of the show and see what goes on backstage during a touring Broadway production. The tour will be led by a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Hippodrome’s stagehand local. It’s an event not to be missed!

The tour is open to all UMB students, faculty, and staff, but space is limited, so register today at this link.


Alice PowellBulletin Board, For B'more, University LifeMarch 19, 20180 comments
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Southwest Partnership Housing Fair on March 25 Features UMB’s LNYW Program

The Southwest Partnership, one of the community partners in UMB’s Live Near Your Work (LNYW) Program, is holding a spring housing fair on Sunday, March 25, at the UM BioPark. The fair is open to the general public and will feature a presentation about the University’s improved LNYW grant, information about Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods from residents and community leaders, tours of homes for sale in the area, and more (see below).

The LNYW Program offers eligible UMB employees up to $18,500 in grants ($16,000 from the University and $2,500 from the city of Baltimore) toward the purchase of a home in seven nearby neighborhoods: Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, Mount Clare, Pigtown/Washington Village, Poppleton, and Union Square.

To qualify for the program, you must be a regular full- or part-time (50 percent FTE or more) UMB faculty or staff member who is in good standing, complete a homebuying counseling program, demonstrate creditworthiness, and contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the down payment.

Here are details about the Southwest Partnership Spring Housing Fair:

When and where

  • Date: Sunday, March 25
  • LNYW Program presentation: 11:30 a.m. to noon
  • Housing fair: Noon to 4 p.m.
  • Bus tours: Start at 12:20 p.m.; last one at 3:50 p.m.
  • Where: UM BioPark, 801 W. Baltimore St.

What to expect

  • Learn about the LNYW Program’s qualifying neighborhoods from community leaders
  • Get a better understanding of the LNYW qualifications
  • View housing stock and tour homes for sale in the area
  • Meet lenders, real estate agents, and home developers
  • Tour businesses and historical landmarks
  • Talk with residents, teachers, and community leaders
  • Explore all the benefits and incentives that can stack up for a new home purchase
  • Sign up for homebuying counseling, which is a requirement of the LNYW Program
  • Get a chance to win a new iPad Mini or other door prizes

 Registration and Other Links

  • To register for the Southwest Partnership Spring Housing Fair, click here.
  • Check out the Southwest Partnership’s website for resources and more information about the neighborhoods that make up the “Hidden Gem of Baltimore.”
  • Check out the LNYW Program website for information about program eligibility, parameters, the application process, and more.
  • Read about the first UMB employee to buy a house under the improved LNYW Program.
Lou CortinaBulletin Board, For B'more, UMB News, University LifeMarch 19, 20180 comments
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UMB Employee Lawson is First to Buy House in Improved Live Near Your Work Program

Living in an apartment in Charles Village, near the Johns Hopkins University campus where she went to college, Shea Lawson had to take four buses and sometimes more than an hour to get to and from her job as a research project coordinator at the Brain and Tissue Bank at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

She wasn’t crazy about the commute or, as she put it, “putting money down the rent drain.” Last fall, she was thinking about buying a house but wasn’t sure she could swing it financially, so she started thinking about shopping for a condo instead.

But when an email touting the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) improved Live Near Your Work (LNYW) Program landed in her inbox in early November, her outlook on buying a house brightened. She sprang into action, eager to take advantage of the grant that provides University employees up to $18,500 toward the purchase of a home in seven targeted Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods — Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, Mount Clare, Pigtown/Washington Village, Poppleton, and Union Square.

“I jumped on it pretty quick,” Lawson said of the program, which officially launched Jan. 9. “When I saw the advertisement [in November], I went on the Zillow real estate website, looking at houses in these neighborhoods. I was mostly looking at Pigtown, Barre Circle, and Hollins Market, because I was more familiar with those areas.”

Taking Ownership

She soon contacted a realtor and toured about 10 houses between late November and mid-January, all while working with a mortgage company to set up the financing for a potential purchase. She completed the program’s required homebuying counseling sessions with UMB’s LNYW partner, GO Northwest Housing Resource Center, attended the employee kickoff event at the SMC Campus Center on Jan. 11, and was among the first to apply when applications opened Jan. 29.

Today, Lawson is the proud owner of a rowhouse in Pigtown, the first grant recipient in the improved LNYW Program, which offers $16,000 from UMB and $2,500 from the city of Baltimore, a dramatic increase from the program’s former $5,000 incentive. The University has committed $1.5 million to the initiative, with hopes that 90-plus employees will take advantage of this financial benefit. Lawson says the program was a perfect fit, opening the door to homeownership and fulfilling her desire to stay at UMB long term.

“I really didn’t have enough for a down payment on a house. I would’ve had to canvass some relatives for a loan,” said Lawson, who has been working at UMB since May 2017. “This allows me to be financially independent. And being near my work was appealing, especially after I decided I wanted to stay at UMB for a while. If it weren’t for this program, I probably would’ve ended up in another rental situation.

“I actually had been trying to get my financials in order to possibly look at condos. I thought that might be the next step for me. A house seemed like a much bigger investment than I initially thought I was ready for. But seeing the Live Near Your Work Program advertised and looking into that, it all of a sudden became feasible.”

Emily Kordish, Human Resource Services benefits manager and the LNYW coordinator, said of Lawson: “Shea was extremely pro-active and resourceful. She really utilized our resources and website and got everything together on her own to get this done. It was a very seamless and positive process working with her.”

Home Sweet Home

Lawson, a city native who went to high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts before earning a bachelor’s degree in history at Johns Hopkins, is thrilled with her purchase, a rowhouse that was built in 1900 and had been refurbished in the past year.

“I didn’t have a specific type of house in mind when I started looking,” she said. “I just looked at everything in my price range and any place that had decent parking options. The house I found has a spacious, open floor plan that still manages to feel cozy and inviting, with solid workmanship on all of the interior features. All of the inside was redone. Half of the basement is finished. And they put a parking pad in the back.”

As for the neighborhood, Lawson says she liked “the close-knit and friendly vibe of the street and block,” and adds that her proximity to M&T Bank Stadium and other downtown attractions was a plus.

“I can see the stadium lit up at night from my back bedroom window, which is a fantastic view for a lifelong Ravens fan like me,” she said. “It will be convenient to my new digs in Pigtown without being overwhelmingly intrusive. It’s the best of both worlds!”

Lawson was extremely pro-active in pursuing the grant, but she also praised Kordish and the program’s partner organizations for helping make her homebuying experience a success.

“It’s been very smooth. The program is run very well,” Lawson said. “Everyone I’ve encountered who’s a part of it — Emily Kordish, Live Baltimore, GO Northwest — they’re very much enthusiastic about it and want to get you the information you need. Also, the Live Near Your Work website has a lot of good information and is really well done.

“I got a lot of help from a lot of good people in the program and from my realtor and my lender — everyone made it easy for me to communicate with them. The Live Near Your Work Program, you can tell they are passionate about this, they want it to work. It’s not just the money UMB has put up, it’s that they’re engaged.”

— Lou Cortina

Housing Fair on March 25

The Southwest Partnership is holding housing fair Sunday, March 25, that is open to the public and will feature UMB’s Live Near Your Work Program. The fair runs from 11:30 a.m to 4 p.m. Click here to register.

More LNYW Information

To learn more about the LNYW Program, click here.

To read more about the program’s launch, click here and here.

Lou CortinaFor B'more, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeMarch 16, 20180 comments
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