Christi Green, the executive director for the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. She talks to us about how they make a difference in their community, the amazing building expansion they are working on, and how you can help their mission grow.
St. Francis Neighborhood Center is the oldest neighborhood center providing enrichment in all of Baltimore City! Our mission is committed to ending generational poverty through education, inspiring self-esteem, self-improvement, and strengthening connections to the community.
Our presence has served as a resource and catalyst for improving the lives of those in Reservoir Hill and making Baltimore a better place since 1963. We were founded to serve a growing segment of our community in need of inaccessible services. We have continued to grow with the help of our donors and volunteers who make our mission possible. Through the years our purpose still remains the same: bring services to those in need.
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Brittany Brown 0:00
It’s The Digitiv Podcast with Rob and Brittany. And today we have the executive director of the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, Christy Greene. This was such a unique experience, and we’re excited to share it with you. So check out this clip with Christi
Christi Green 0:11
when I look at these kids that have become my family and these families have become my family and seeing the incredible hardships and how easy it would be to give up. I want all of them to know that they are loved.
Brittany Brown 0:26
Now let’s get to the episode.
Rob Winters 0:34
Thanks for tuning in. Today we are joined by the executive director of the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. Christi Greene, thank you for joining us today.
Christi Green 0:42
Thank you for having me.
Rob Winters 0:43
Absolutely. And for our listeners, I have to say this is a very special episode is our first on site interview, which for us, Brittany and I very exciting. And we are here in the actual Center, which we’ll dig into a little bit more. But to get it started, can you tell us a little bit about the center? And how do you all refer to do you call it the center of the St. Francis center? What’s the best way for us to label?
Christi Green 1:07
Sure? Well, we definitely use the acronym SFMC. Because St. Francis Neighborhood Center is kind of hard to answer to sometimes we are the center or St. Francis Neighborhood Center SFMC. We are located in West Baltimore in a very beautiful neighborhood named Reservoir Hill, we serve the 21217 zipcode. But mostly Reservoir Hill and the Pen North neighborhoods were not far from North Ave we are kind of like tucked in between Druid Park and North Ave on the corner of London and Whitelock and this great big three story beautiful home that needs to be renovated very badly, which you guys just saw. And we’re working on we’re trying to get there, I work for the neighborhood, they were my boss. It’s a community driven organization. And we’re mostly known for our out of school time programs for kids and youth in poverty. So after school and summer learning loss is a big deal. Of course, COVID. It’s a big deal. So we help supplement school and we help give the kids opportunities and their families. It’s a very holistic program resources, support Human Services, food education, it’s pretty exciting. We were family, we love each other, we work together, we take care of each other. And our mission is to end generational poverty through education. So we feel like the end of generational poverty begins here.
Rob Winters 2:28
And I think for the listener, and even a little bit for us, can we talk a little bit about what exactly generational poverty is or what that means specifically.
Christi Green 2:36
Sure. So we have a lot of families, a lot of generations that live in one home. But even if they don’t live in one home, 98% of the youth that we work with are African American, 2%, Hispanic, and we have seen very much inequities amongst our families with opportunities, lack of opportunities, I should say. And so there have just been years and years of poverty in the families that it’s just so hard to get out of. It’s not like oh, get on a bus and go get a job. It’s not like that. It’s like you’re trying to care for your family, you already know walking in the door, that you don’t have the same opportunity as maybe someone else walking in, that’s a different skin color, or has a different background, we’re trying to make the opportunities equal or better even because of years and years of just racism and social injustices that have occurred with these families. So and then that includes housing, it includes every structure, we can totally get into education, medical policing, you know, all of that, where they’re just it’s a structure of where it was created, with racism underlying it. And it’s really difficult to talk about, but we see it every day, we see the kids and families struggle, a family is trying to work trying to get childcare, living in poverty, trying to find the job trying to go back to school, it’s just so difficult. So if we can take one level of that and be a family member that can step in and help stabilize the family so that that mom or dad can go back to school or can go to a job interview, they can leave their child with us in an after school program while they pursue what they need to for their family. It’s really hard to jump on a bus with you know, a couple kids and do grocery shopping and go to your doctor’s appointment. And we all can talk about transportation another time to but you know, it’s not always the best. And so it’s just really difficult to just get ahead. Instead of surviving all the time. We just really want to help our families finally get an opportunity to thrive. And so we’ve had moms and dads go back to work start businesses all because their kids were with us go back to school. And we’ve seen actually that 50% of our families have had a rise in income as a result of working with us and having their kids and families with us. So we started the youth program back in 2008. We’re actually 2009 as a result of the 2008 survey that the neighborhood and communities that youth worry us, we want to see that they are not in the streets up to, like no good. And so can we provide something at the community center for kids after school, and in the summer that is productive and healthy. And so that’s where we started. Now, we’ve been around since 1963. So we’ve done this stuff forever. But the programs as they are today, which is the power project after school program, and the summer of service excursion, which has a community service piece integrated in there, it’s from 2009. And then the summer program started in 2010. And they’ve been extremely successful. And the families are really thriving in the program. That’s kind of a big answer. Sorry. I mean, I could go into more, but I think people get the idea. We just are creating the highest quality program we possibly can which you can see that now we have expanded brand new, awesome state of the art smart building, that the community continues to just thank every day, like every day we walk in the door. Thank for that. Because it’s underserved area, it’s often neglected and forgotten. And so here we are.
Brittany Brown 6:20
How many kids do you currently have in your programs.
Christi Green 6:22
So we have 75 kids in our programs. And we weren’t able to fit all those kids at our house that we were in. And so that’s why we expanded. So now we can keep those 75. But we’re going to build up ramp up to 125 at a time. And then when the whole projects done the whole expansion because we have one more phase to go that will be up to 200 kids at a time. And the interesting thing is between Pen North and Reservoir Hill, there’s over 1000 children living below the federal poverty line. So this is one piece of that pie or that puzzle. We definitely need to work with other partners and support and you know, anything we can do to try to reach all those kids and give them these opportunities. We’ve always kind of joked but I joke, but I don’t joke. I mean, we need to have St. Francis neighborhood centers all over the city because it’s working. But then that exhausts me. So huge. That is but it works. And if we can teach other groups what we’re doing, I’m happy to share that and let’s do it.
Brittany Brown 7:27
I love it. So how are people getting into your programs? Is there a waitlist? What does that look like?
Christi Green 7:31
So there was a waitlist. And that’s exactly why we expanded we had kids who waited up to three years to get in
Brittany Brown 7:38
Oh my goodness
Christi Green 7:39
Yeah. And it’s at no cost to the neighborhood because I fundraise like a crazy person and write grants like a crazy person. So we all do we have an amazing team, best team I’ve ever worked with very passionate, caring, high quality staff that work with our kids and families and community. That’s what started the idea of we need to renovate the house and we need to expand because that’s not okay that kids are waiting three years to get into a program. It’s word of mouth. Kids are generally other kids families, you’re trying to like this is great. We want to be here this is so good. Like the kids this past summer got to do so many fun things between swimming and going out to a farm and learning how to make their own salsa to going to museums going to a park. So you know just all kinds of fun, different things they got to see, you know, fangs and what do you call it frogs and all kinds of nasty little animals they get to learn about. It’s all kind of fun, like different for whatever kids are interested in, hopefully it will have appealed to them. And so we’re always looking for those great program partners, most of them discount or provide in kind services for so that we can have these amazing programs for our kids. But we want to have more kids here. And we also knew when Dorothy I Heights was a combination of Westside elementary and Pen north and John Eager Howard and Reservoir Hill that it could potentially triple the number of kids in the neighborhood with not enough opportunity for out of school time. And right now we know that across the United States, and this is pre COVID. There’s over 11 million children unsupervised after school across the United States, West Baltimore, Baltimore, you know, we all fall in that statistic. And we want to make sure that our kids have a safe learning happy place to be that they can thrive.
Brittany Brown 9:26
That’s amazing. I also have to ask one last question on kind of this topic. So how are you helping the families? Because I know you have like a whole program. It’s not just about the kids, like how are you bringing the parents in? And how does that play a role in the children’s success here?
Christi Green 9:39
That is the best question because honestly, well, first, the kids get super excited when they come here and they go home and tell their families about it. They tell their parents, caregivers and guardians and then they want to be there like what are you doing there? We want to know, you know, and so it’s kind of like the kids are the influencer here. But it’s great, but what we do is it’s all youth And community voice driven. We have once a month, we have a family engagement night. And the parents actually either run it or find the speakers that they want to hear. So we do like surveys every single month, like did you like that? And what would you like to hear next and that’s through COVID, for example, University of Maryland Medical Center, had a doctor come on and talk about the importance of getting vaccinated because there’s a lot of mistrust in African American community with the healthcare system. So it was an African American woman doctor speaking to our families about how important to get vaccinated, and that was actually driven by the neighborhood like we want to learn more, we don’t really trust this vaccine, who can we talk to? And who can we trust that can tell us more, and they know St. Francis Neighborhoods Center will connect them with somebody good. So it was no surprise when a kid walks in here, by the way, they just start hugging all the adults because they know we’re going to take care of them. And everybody here is a good, safe person, you know, for them. So I don’t even know what my question was.
Brittany Brown 11:00
I love it. I love to see how passionate you are about the center. Also, there was a little girl in the video on your website that did talk about like how she just loves to hug everyone like that’s her favorite activity, which I thought was so cute. The families How is that helping with the success of the children?
Christi Green 11:14
Yes. So on top of everything else, the families get involved, we advocate the same as in the school a parent might not understand an IEP Individualized Education Plan, or a 504 plan that their child is on, they might not understand a disability, they might not understand how Baltimore City Public Schools work. So we’re already the advocate. And then when we look at other things, we offer that we have a resource fair and festival every single year, this year was our 16th year, we did it a hybrid this year. And last year, we did the same thing. We did some online and then some in person outside of course. And so next year, we hope to actually have it for real all outside and center combined. But we bring in 50-60 different resources from all over Baltimore City, and they set up and we’re bringing music and food and vendors and merchants and everything. And again, it’s a one stop shop so that our parents don’t have to spend a day or two or three jumping from place to place all over the city, they can figure out what they need right then in there. And it’s usually an educational vendors or health care might do testing, like we’ve done HIV testing before we’ve done testing for diabetes before. So we’ll set up in this park over beside us called German Park and just have a party. Basically with ton of resources. We also do food distribution every week. And we’re going to pick that up even more once the center is fully open after the expansion and everything is completed. So it’s important to us, we have a parent liaison coordinator who in COVID, for example, not only her but all the staff checked in with all of our families once a week, and we said How are you? What do you need? Is anyone sick? Do you need transportation? we delivered meals to every single home of every kid of all of our families to make sure no one was like starving to death making sure people have medicine making sure people could get where they were. So when some people didn’t work as much in COVID. I mean, a lot of people did work a lot. But you know, some people said Oh, you know, some nonprofits just shut down. And we were doing triple that work, if not more, because we were actually like leaving food and supplies and learning kits on students and then waiting in the car and then making sure they got it. So we kept our distance. And then we also distributed food every single week, I think over 70,000 pounds of food we distributed which that’s not always what we’re known for. We do provide food to our kids and families so that the kids can learn and they’re not hungry. So they get a meal every day when they’re with us. Our primary is education to end poverty. But if you’re hungry, you can’t learn. So the families too, we’ve had a lot of instances, especially with COVID, unfortunately, with some homelessness, domestic violence, some other things that have popped up along the way that I don’t think we’ve even fully seen what’s going to result mental health issues, physical health issues, people that got COVID that still have symptoms and things that are still there. So we have a lot of issues with that. So our parent liason coordinator still checks in with the families still make sure that they have the resources they need. We work with partners like the women’s Housing Coalition has a women’s and children’s shelter across the street from us and she’s helping us with the homeless family that we’re working with right now that a mom with four kids, it’s just really awful to have to go through all of that anyway. And then add what were in too so when I say we’re family and we know each other all very well. We know what’s going on and where we can step in and be together and help stabilize the family. So the kids obviously being in the program is really important and then everything stems out from there, whether it’s food or reading sources are support or connecting with a partner, whatever that may be.
Brittany Brown 15:03
That’s so awesome.
Rob Winters 15:04
That is awesome. And I mean, you kind of touched on it 2020 was clearly a dumpster fire here for everybody. And, you know, a lot of nonprofits as you said they either didn’t make it or services were reduced. But you all kind of went the opposite direction. You had a lot of successes. We were just perusing your 2020 annual report, which I think highlighted a lot of successes have very impressive numbers. Are there any specific wins from 2020, you know, in the community, or with your kids that you’re working with? You guys are particularly proud of?
Christi Green 15:34
Rob Winters 15:35
And that’s a big question. A lot of you guys are very proud of but
Christi Green 15:39
Yeah, I mean, the fact that we were able to pivot and I know everybody’s probably tired of hearing that word, but we were able to pivot and just keep pushing forward, we hit a wall, we turn we figure it out, there was at one point, we had a couple grants out there, and we just couldn’t get in touch with anyone to know that if we still had that money or not. So we ran anyway. And we just took the chance that if we kept moving forward, like we needed to anyway, that that money would still be there. And luckily it was, but we didn’t know that as we’re pushing through, you know, we couldn’t get a hold of a lot of people like people were gone missing. I mean, we we talked about that, like a lot of kids went missing. You know, I think the big, big thing here that I’m really excited for us is that, you know, we hear about this digital divide, and all these families that didn’t have a computer or internet or anything. We already had all but six of our families with Internet in their homes. We were already working on that we were Comcast Internet essentials learning zone. And so we had started that like three years ago, making sure our families were getting that like $9.99 internet a month. We’ve already done all that. So then what we did so we get this first six families like those last 6 families I should say immediately we called Comcast and got them set up before everybody went bananas because nobody knew yet that we’re gonna be down forever, right? I mean, 18 months or whatever. So it was like really exciting to know that Okay, now 100% percent of our families have internet and Wi Fi. Now we need to make sure they all have computers, and we literally, we said we’d loan them out. That’s how it started. We’re just loan out all of our computers, all of our computer lab computers, all of our desktops all of our laptops were just going to loan them outt, and within 10 days of schools closing all of our families had internet and all of our families had a computer.
Rob Winters 17:28
Impressive. Schools couldn’t even do it that fast.
Brittany Brown 17:30
Christi Green 17:30
Now I attribute the staff you know, like Torbin our program and Operations Director just set up in Dorothy I Heights because we were under construction in our center. So we went to the school and even Mike Schuh from WJZ showed up and did a, like, what are you doing? Like, this is amazing. You’re handing out computers and lunches? like, ya know, yep. and then when we ran out of computers, we just kept putting them on Amazon wishlist, we asked for computers from other people, we partnered with digital equity, which underarmor connected us with them. And we got like 30 more free computers from them. And we just continued, every kid that signed up for any of our programs, got a computer, and we made sure they had internet. And then as a result of that they have to stay in touch with them. It helped us connect with the families more and we have no intent of taking any of those computers back. Every single family needs a computer. That’s life, you know, there’s no way I’m going to come back, especially after two years after a kid’s been pounding on a computer for two, or multiple kids or family members, because we even had giveaway scholarships to our parents during that time to go back to school. And part of that was they got a computer and we just kept recruiting for computers, everything we could and so we had to like parent go back and get her servsafe because she wanted to start her own business. But she also like at some point wanted to own a food truck. But she until then she wanted to get restaurant experience. Well in COVID. She’s a hairdresser, guess what should couldn’t work. So we gave her a scholarship and to go through food training, which she did. And then we gave her the computer so she could do that. So now she has this other background, this other education and she can use and she have four kids in the house at the same time. We’re also doing school and stuff like that. So she and her own computer. So that’s another way we help the families too.
Rob Winters 19:15
Incredible. And I guess my question was the successes of 2020. And we’re in 2021. Now we’re sitting in the newest part of your building. It is funny, I think we can almost call it a complex because this is pretty expansive and impressive. We’re in a brand new classroom. This is two weeks away from opening. Is that right?
Christi Green 19:32
Yes. The staff will be back the day after Labor Day, which right is that? That’s not far away.
Rob Winters 19:38
Its creeping up quick
Christi Green 19:38
Oh, my gosh, that’s crazy, right. And then our big move with volunteers to get everything from our storage units because we have stuff in storage monthly for free, most of it but we had a lot of stuff. So we had to move everything out for the construction and we have to move everything back that’s September 17 18th. Then our board of directors and our staff will have their very first in Person altogether meeting in two years at the center in the new expanded space. And then October the 2nd we are welcoming home our kids and families, we’re gonna have a human tunnel, and they’re gonna run through and see their space for the first time. And we’ll have a party and we’re gonna do orientation. And then October 4, that Monday, we’re opening for our after school programs in person, assuming nothing goes crazy with this delta variant, all that and then in the middle of all that, too. We have our big fundraiser, which is a golf Invitational on Monday, September 13. September is a big!
Rob Winters 20:34
That’s a busy week. So you’re going from event Monday to move in Friday.
Christi Green 20:37
Rob Winters 20:38
That’s a crazy week.
Christi Green 20:39
Rob Winters 20:39
I love it. I love it. Because I get to supervise from the outside, completely objective person has nothing to do with it.
When I say it all out loud, I kind of freak myself out honestly. That’s a lot.
Brittany Brown 20:52
we just saw the look on your face. As you said it, you’re like, Oh my gosh, what did I just get myself into
Christi Green 20:57
Rob Winters 20:58
And this is this phase one or phase two. Because you mentioned, you guys are going to do another expansion as well as you’re going to rehab the original portion of the house, which people will see pictures online. So listening, they might not exactly know what we’re talking about. But we’ll have pictures and we’ll also direct them to your website. But you guys are doing a whole other extension. Correct?
Christi Green 21:17
We are. So you’re sitting in phase one, which is the most customized piece of expansion it has four classrooms, it has a cafe, studio, computer lab kitchen, crazy, awesome bathrooms walk in cooler, which we talked about was be so important with food distribution and so much more functional space. Then for the final phase, we will renovate the house, the historic home and then add on rec space, which will also serve as multipurpose space. And so we can have events, we can rent space, we can have weddings, we can do stuff that will help bring in generates an income for the center too. And then we’ll add two more classrooms into that as well. So pretty exciting. So we’ll go from 75 kids will ramp up this year, hopefully to 125 kids. And I say that only because it’s funding dependent, not child dependent. We know we have plenty of kids that are waiting and ready. Funding together, keep working on that. And then we’ll go into hopefully 200 kids at a time. And this final phase of the expansion
Rob Winters 22:20
That’s incredible. And now that I think of how many kids you all serve, how many staff does it take to do all of your programs?
Christi Green 22:28
We have nine full time staff right now, which are an amazing group of people. And then we have five part time teachers that are certified Baltimore City public school teachers that come after school and summer we have a part time facilities person who will need to go full time because this is going to be like you said kind of a campus ish type feel. And then we will be hiring some more part time staff and we do try to hire as much as possible from the neighborhood. And then beyond that Baltimore City. And then you know, beyond that, but most everybody we have working here it lives in Baltimore City or the neighborhood. And it’s pretty awesome.
Brittany Brown 23:06
Christi Green 23:06
A lot of job opportunities that are going to come with this.
Rob Winters 23:09
It’s just one more way you guys are helping families and the community
Christi Green 23:12
When you said I’m going back to that, that we’re heading towards workforce development in a bigger way. So even though you’ve seen snippets of that with scholarships, or sending parents who want to go back to school, helping them do that, with us having their kids and everything we want to use the space during the day, because you think about it after school, what’s going to happen with the space during the day. Well, we’d love to see the trainings, maybe Microsoft or Google trainings or computer lab training, you know, things like that, or pop up businesses, entrepreneur opportunities. So we’ve been working with innovation works, we want to be an ignite hub, which is a place to learn how to run a business and have your own business, when we eventually have the rec, multipurpose space, you know, could be a place for catering and event planning. And maybe neighborhood individuals will get those contracts and you know, get some training because the kitchen that we just built, which I love is also going to be a training kitchen and teaching kitchen too for nutrition and health. And there’s so many possibilities. Not to mention that we are working on just being smart, the smart center, smart community, smart neighborhood Smart City, we’ve been working with Johns Hopkins on a program for that to connect more resources and to have more of a real life real time resource available for our neighborhoods and city.
Rob Winters 24:34
Brittany Brown 24:34
I agree. And I love that you’re maximizing the space even during the day. That’s really cool that you are going to be looking into some adult things as well, because then the kids are at school parents have time.
Christi Green 24:43
Brittany Brown 24:43
I’m going to ask you you’ve been with the Center for it’s going to be your 10th year correct crazy. So I’m sure that you have a lot of favorite things that have happened over the years. Is there a story that you would be willing to share with us that has really made an impact on you?
Christi Green 24:57
Sure. Well, I would say one that has transpired over the last 10 years, Emanuel, I’m sorry for this, I’ll just tell you right now, I talked about him all the time. But Emanuel was when he started with us. He was eight years old, he had been bullied in school, single mom getting out of the life of, she’ll talk openly about this. So I’m not sharing anything she wouldn’t talk about of selling drugs or being that, you know, she’s like, I gotta make a decision, she made a decision, I’m not going to be in that light, she found us and she went back to work back to school while we had Emanuel, he has three other siblings, it’s been through the program to that or it’s still in the program. Emanuel along the way, just started to shine. The shy kid that hid under the table, when we first got him for the first week, is now has a voice and is confident and now has a mentor who actually is a writer that we connected him with. And he is thriving. So when we started raising money for the expansion, we wanted the kids to talk about their experience here and testify for the city and the state. He did that. And because he did that, we raised a million dollars just from him testifying. And some of the things he would say that really I think hit home was that he wanted other kids to have the same opportunities that he had gotten here. He helped him get into Baltimore School for the Arts. He was in the first ever writing and film directing course curriculum there. He just graduated from high school, he got almost a full ride to Ithaca, but got accepted in 12 colleges, including Columbia, he is at Ithaca right now as we speak. He’s also one of our scholarship winners, because we do have college scholarships. And he came out right before he left for school one week before he left for college. He said, Can I bring my friends out and show them the new center? And I said, Absolutely. So he came out. And I said, I think we’re gonna have to have your name in here. You know, you helped raise a million dollars of this 5.5 that we’ve raised, and we still have another two and a half to go million to go for this last final phase took us friends through and at the end, I know what did you think and he’s like, I don’t I can’t believe it. Because now I can’t believe it. And he goes, this is where kids develop their passions. And I just melted and cried and died, right then But he asked me if he could be an intern virtual intern through college and be our social media college intern. And so we hired him, but he’s coming back. He’s never leaving us. But we have three of his siblings in the program, including his brother who’s autistic, who thrives here. Sometimes you wouldn’t think with a bunch of kids running around, but the structure is there and he thrives plus two sisters. And his mom now serves on our board of directors.
Brittany Brown 27:40
Christi Green 27:41
Yeah. So that’s a big story. And there’s lots of stories where I can just plug every one of the kids and families and talk about because they’re all different, you know, some don’t turn out as successful, but the majority do. And that’s what we hang on to I know that it’s helping and supporting and working.
Rob Winters 27:58
And that’s highly inspirational. And so that’s probably a really good time for me ask this question. If somebody listening, wanted to get involved in potentially volunteer what type of volunteer opportunities are available to the community,
Christi Green 28:11
Anything and everything. Between classrooms, you can be a classroom assistant, you can be a tutor, you can volunteer for reading day at the park or at the center. We do community cleanups. We have the fundraising events. So the golf Invitational I just mentioned big time volunteer opportunities for that, whether it’s an event, whether it’s tutoring, whether you’ve a profession, you want to share, maybe you want to teach something, maybe you have an in kind service that you can provide. Maybe you can be a sponsor for one of our events. I mean, there literally is no end. It’s just whatever fits you but you’re what you’re looking for. Our website is easy, it’s St. Francis center.org. And there’s a Google form right there and you can just fill it out and send it and then we have a great volunteer partnership coordinator that will be in touch and get you trained. If that’s required. We do usually do a cleanup about once a month in the neighborhood. That is one thing we found that helps deter crime is if you have a clean neighborhood it helps with that so we try to keep the park clean and our neighborhood clean and just worked together. We’ve done that for years
Rob Winters 29:15
For listeners we’re overlooking a beautiful this is a children’s playground I suppose right the Raven’s playground, but that’s another kind of inspirational story or a way you guys have impacted the community and really turned another facet around by just having your outreach and your cleanup and really kind of putting yourselves out there.
Christi Green 29:33
Yeah, we even replanted a bunch of our rain garden and Butterfly Garden plants that we’re going to get killed basically in the construction and expansion. We replanted them and had a couple days that we could do that over in the park. The kids helped with that. We’ve had different corporate groups come out and help with things like that, whether it’s teaching or cleaning or weeding or whatever. There’s lots of opportunities for that too. But the park Yeah, the park was in beside us was an open air drug market for years. We would find knives, needles, call the police all the time, people were buying non stop for 12 to 14 hours straight, we take the kids over play in the park and immediately have to turn around call my mom back. And since this transformation of both Whitelock Community Farm behind us, which is an urban farm that we partner with, we love it and our facility and then working with the city and Recs and park to just turn around German Park. That’s what the park is called. It is a totally different vibe. It’s just clean. It feels good. I mean, it has some normal Park issues like we all do. You see some trash sometimes and things like that. But it’s got exercise equipment there. Now. I mean, we’ve really worked hard with the city and the community to just transform this whole entire corner really block and you can feel it. If you walk through here, be here,You can feel it. It’s awesome.
Brittany Brown 30:54
Yep, from a second we pulled up there were people outside from the community when we pulled up and they were just very friendly and said hello to us. So it’s a very welcoming place.
Rob Winters 31:01
We were greeted and asked, like how they can help us and where we were going, which was good because we were in the wrong door anyways. And we did need help. So that was really helpful rather than having to like wander around aimlessly.
Brittany Brown 31:10
Yeah I’m gonna wrap us up with a final question. Where does your passion for this come from?
Christi Green 31:15
Good question I’ve had that asked before. And I actually didn’t have the answer. So now I’ve thought about this over time. I think for me as a teenager, even though I have not had diagnosed mental issues, or any kind of issues regarding emotional or mental health. I’ve had situational depression before. And one of the things that hit me when I was a teenager, even though my family was great, my parents are great. I went through this really dark period where I did not feel loved at all sought after wanting to be loved. Even though it’s right in front of me, I just didn’t see it. I was not in a good place. And that part of my teenage life and young adult life. And I think after having gone through that now understanding that everyone is loved no matter what I want to make sure everyone knows that. So I don’t want anybody to feel that feeling. That was a terrible, terrible feeling. As I get emotional here. So when I look at these kids that have become my family and these families have become my family and seeing the incredible hardships and how easy it would be to give up. I want all of them to know that they are loved, and that I work for them and that I will do everything I can to make sure they always know that we’re here for them.
Brittany Brown 32:33
Christi you are very inspirational. You have me a little teary over here as well. You have been a wonderful person to interview and I’m so glad that we could be a part of your journey as well to help you get the word out about your golf tournament and also about the center. It’s very well deserving of a donation. Thank you so much for joining us. Please listen, like and subscribe and we will see you all next week.