I can't say enough good things about the Caroline Center. My first experience there was in 2004 during a week long immersion I was leading for Spring Break at Loyola College. I was so impressed with the women I met, and the Center that I started volunteering there weekly helping tutor women in the GED program and took a summer internship there as well. I was really impressed that summer with the care and dedication of the staff and the motivation of the women there. Each woman's stories are unique but they share a motivation to keep going and to complete the programing Over the years I would come back every few months and help out, and was eventually asked to help plan their one (they only do one) annual fundraiser. I still continue to pop in and volunteer when I return to Baltimore and largely end up performing mundane handy man tasks, but it's the fact that they rely on full time staff (their associate director) or volunteers to do these things that keep the cost so low that they can continue to provide the quality of services not only the women but the city of Baltimore has come to expect of them.
For the past 4 years I have volunteered at the Caroline Center as a writing teacher. The women that come to this program are determined to better themselves and their families. The daily trials in their lives are monumental but their drive combined with the support of the staff at Caroline Center allow these women to graduate from the program and start a career. For many of the women, this is the first time that anyone has expressed concern for their overall well being and success.
As a member of the Board of Trustees for Caroline Friess Center I was proud to be able to participate in an organization with the utmost integrity, delivering professional and life skills to a segment of Baltimore's population in dire need. These unemployed and under-employed (mostly poverty-stricken) women were/are able to find a way to survive and take care of their families with the help, compassion and care the Center offers. Without this one-of-a-kind organization these women and their families would otherwise be stranded in a world often hostile, deadly and with few to no resources. As a "Big Sister" in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Baltimore I saw the direct effect that this program had on the mother of my "little sister". The "man-of-the-house" was in prison, in fact, my 12-year old little sister has never met her father. This family lives with far below the basics most of us consider necessary to live. Gun shots and violence are common in their neighborhood. Her mother was fortunate to be accepted into Caroline Center's program. At the Center she gained the skills the become a geriatric nursing assistant. Once she graduated from the program the Center was able to assist her in finding a good job as a geriatric nursing assistant. She now works steadily, brings home a regular paycheck, helps others through her profession and is proud to support her family. She is now a productive member of society. All this because Caroline Friess Center was there to care about her and do something about it. It is critical to our society that organizations like this exist and are supported by those of us who have so much more. Without our support an entire segment of Baltimore's underprivileged would literally have no where to go. Dollars that are given to Caroline Friess Center are spent with great care and you can rest assured every penny spent is 100% for the training of these women.
I first started volunteering for Caroline Center in the Fall 2004. Caroline Center provides job training for low-income women. It is a great place to be, there is so much energy and true dedication to helping women get trained so they can get jobs to support themselves and their families. The women arrive on the first day very anxious and insecure of themselves. On the last day of the 15 week program, the women are secure in themselves and their ability to get (and keep) a job in their chosen career. The transformation is awesome to watch. I have performed many tasks for Caroline Center over the last five years, but my favorite tasks involve working with the women who come to us. Either teaching them employment readiness skills they will need to get a job or coaching them on how to succeed at Caroline Center and overall. I was also involved in a benchmark effort to determine how many of our women get and keep jobs after they graduate from Caroline Center. We are very pleased with the results which showed that more than 75% of our graduates are still in the workforce two years after graduation. That is very good statistic for inner city job training programs!