A New York Times article from 1923 reported that the tradition of gathering on stoops and visiting with neighbors goes back as far as the 1860s. By the middle of the 20th century, the custom had blossomed into a full-on celebration.
On Saturday, July 16, The Loyola School (TLS) reached out to nine surrounding neighborhoods and hosted a free block party for its neighbors and their families — to get to know them and to help them get to know each other. The goal of the event was to help families learn about services and resources to strengthen the community while enjoying local food, music, and family-fun activities!
The event took place on E. Madison St. in the block between Hargrove and St. Paul streets adjacent to TLS and inside the Reeves Gallery at St. Ignatius Church. This celebration was a collaboration between TLS, the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Maryland and St. Ignatius Catholic Community, the church that has continued to make the school’s mission possible.
TLS received an honorable mention, along with the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association Club of Maryland, in the 2022 Lennon Gospel of Life Initiative Award competition for planning and hosting this block party to impact TLS’s communities through innovative use of funding and involvement of club members and TLS benefactors, faculty, staff and parents.
“We had an opportunity to expand our connections with Baltimore City families in need of education resources for their children,” said Rev. William J. Watters, President of The Loyola School. “More importantly, we had a chance to connect entire families to many Baltimore City resources, all while engaging them in a fun community event.”
Tables featured community service organizations, including Catholic Charities, Our Daily Bread, Gabriel Network, University of Maryland School of Nursing, TRE/St. Vincent, Dynamic Health Care, Merritt Athletic Club and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Nearby shops offered meals at discounted prices during the event.
“This school is such an amazing opportunity for young children to begin on the road to a valuable education,” said Dan Florea, community partner, TLS benefactor and event co-chair. “What a great example of how TLS education can benefit our local children and show off our school to the public. It was a terrific opportunity to welcome the neighborhood at large to our community.”
There was a Kids Section with free activities for young attendees, including face-painting, Get Da Scoop Ice Treats and Othello Sanyeneh Moon Bounce!
Everyone enjoyed the harmony of familiar music and street dancing, including testimonials of residents, business owners, TLS Board Trustees and stakeholders from different neighborhoods. They talked about the benefits of our high-quality schooling and raising a family in our community, the strengths of the neighborhoods, and the important impact early educational connections and socio-emotional support make for children and families.
How the Block Party worked
Guests were encouraged to visit various tables and booths. At the information table, all guests received a list of vendors and their locations. Each guest or family received a punch card to be completed by visiting the various tables and the church gallery. When they completed the cards, they were eligible to receive age-appropriate backpacks for their children. TLS provided a complimentary Get Da Scoop treat for each guest.
Activities at St. Ignatius Church Reeves Gallery
TLS school administrators and development staff members discussed admission and scholarship programs at tables inside of St. Ignatius Reeves Gallery. Interested families were assisted with their admission questions and access to links to online applications and provided brochures. Additionally, children and families received 150 early learning and elementary school backpacks when they presented completed punch cards in Reeves Gallery. The Notre Dame Alumni Club of Maryland provided the backpacks.
“We have many volunteers to thank: Our teachers, administrators, parents, City Council representatives, family members and friends. They were all involved in making the day run smoothly,” said Will Nathan, TLS Donor Relations Manager and Event Chair. “The key strength was the team collaboration in working together to pull off a such a successful event.” The specific area of opportunity was being able to connect all the families in attendance to resources, all while engaging them in a fun community event.
“A special thanks to the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Maryland and St. Ignatius Catholic Community. Without their support, and our three trustees who supported the project, Dr. Adebola Giwa, Boz Borowiecki, and Rev. Jim Casciotti, S.J., this event would not have been possible.”
The event enabled us to increase community awareness of the school’s expanded mission and its programs and provide us with an opportunity to forge new and stronger relationships with parents and community, while broadening the admission and enrollment process to reach more children and families in need. New connections established by collaborating with neighboring communities also helped us to identify and integrate resources that will strengthen and support the school for our parent and student wraparound community service programs.
“This block party was motivated by our need to engage with the community our school resides in and to give to that community access to resources, information, arts and entertainment–all things we incorporate into our school environment for students,” said Asia Parker, TLS teacher, mom and event co-chair. “Awareness is key, and this access gave our neighbors an opportunity to gain experience about TLS education. That’s what the block party was all about.”
Not only did this event help to create a stronger neighborhood community network, but it also provided opportunities to create stronger outcomes for children and their families. To see photos of our event, click here.
Written by Candra Healy