Fire sparks generous action in the Highlandtown community

Stack of newspapers with Mark Parker campaign Logo and text "Media Coverage"

via WMAR Channel 2 Baltimore (ABC Affiliate)

By: Nordea Lewis

HIGHLANDTOWN — A fire that damaged multiple homes back sparked an immediate need for action in Highlandtown.

On November 22, 2020, a homeless man experiencing a mental health crisis walked into a vacant building on Clinton street and set the home on fire.

The blaze quickly traveled to two other row homes and a church. Thankfully everyone was able to make it out safely, but there was a lot of damage left behind.

“It was pretty bad. We couldn’t believe it. I’m just happy everyone is safe,” said Mark Parker, Pastor of Breath of God Lutheran Church.

Clinton Street Community Center in partnership with Breath of God Lutheran church decided to rehabilitate the homes that were damaged in fire.

Organizers wanted to turn the community’s pain into purpose, which is why they used one of the buildings to expand their preschool, by providing childcare for two-year-olds.

Another building where the fire originated will be used as a stepping stone for families looking for safety.

“The goal is to use this for refugee housing…our job is to do two things. One is to make sure that they have good stable housing, where they can stay not just for a few months, but they can stay with us for a year or two as they get established in the community in the city. And then to have an organized group of neighbors who have been trained and who are excited to walk alongside and support the family not just for a few months, but over the course of their entire stay with us. So that’s people who have expertise in navigating Baltimore city public schools. It’s folks who understand the local healthcare system,” said Parker.