By: RJ Kaminski
The Baltimore Station is an innovative, therapeutic residential treatment program supporting veterans and others who are transitioning through the cycle of poverty, addiction and homelessness to self-sufficiency. Since The Baltimore Station and Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore teamed up last summer, they’ve been able to amplify the incredible work they do.
Running a treatment program for homeless men brings a unique set of costly and sanitary challenges. John Friedel and Kim Callari have experienced these challenges head on year after year.
“Since the residents in our program are homeless and come from a variety of living conditions, we had trouble with bed bugs coming into our facilities,” Kim Callari, Director of Development & Communications said… “It was not only costly, but the treatments were also very invasive to our residents, as we had to evacuate our facility while treatments were done.”
Executive Director John Friedel made a note that it’s not just living outside that makes their Veterans more vulnerable to pick up bed bugs. He mentioned that they could be easily transferred on public transportation and unfortunately even hospital beds.
“We used the funds raised from last year’s Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore to purchase bed bug resistant mattresses and pillows,” Callari said. Since partnering with Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore in 2016, receiving 10% of funds raised, that issue is in the rear view mirror for now.
“We actually found bed bug resistant mattresses with covers and then pillows and pillowcases,” Callari said. “So that’s what we purchased. The old mattresses were removed and replaced with new ones…We called the day ‘Matresspalooza!”
“’Knock on wood,’ we have not had any issues with bed bugs since then,” Callari said. The Baltimore Station didn’t just replace a few of their worn down existing mattresses.
“It was all 130 [mattresses],” added Friedel. The Baltimore Station replaced every single mattress in both of their facilities. Friedel continued, “As you can imagine, this was a very costly exercise for us. Between the funds donated from Shootout for Soldiers and another local foundation we were able to give every man in our program a new place to put his head that is comfortable and bed bug free.”
“And they’re a nicer grade mattress as well,” Callari added. “More comfortable and longer lasting.”
Aside from praising the newly purchased mattresses, which have been working tremendously well so far, The Baltimore Station touted the incredible lacrosse community they were able to break into while at SFS Baltimore.
“Our experience at Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore gave us the opportunity to share our story with the greater Baltimore community which in turn, yielded more volunteers for our program and donors as well,” Callari said.
One of those donors is none other than Marty Delaney who has brought his adaptive lacrosse team out to play at Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore for three straight years.
“Marty, he’s actually a donor now,” Callari said. “He comes to our events and we share similar stories and information on social media now too. So our awareness in your community has really increased tremendously from our participation.
Callari lauded the opportunity for her and her volunteers to come out and personally interact with the community attending SFS Baltimore. “People who come to the Baltimore event, or any of the local events… can talk to us and learn firsthand about our program,” Callari said. “They can actually touch, feel and see where that donation is going.”
Their plans for funds they receive through Shootout for Soldiers Baltimore in 2017 are going to support a need of similar importance for The Baltimore Station.
“A lot of our guys have physical limitations,” Friedel said.
“Right now in our dining room at our South Baltimore facility, we have low picnic style benches,” he continued. “What we’ve found is that as our population continues to age, the picnic style benches are not practical. They are difficult to get in and out of and take up a lot of space when folded up.”
Friedel and Callari are hoping to redo the South Baltimore dining room with a set up that caters to the growing age and physical limitations of their men.
“That’s what we’re going to use this year’s proceeds for.”
The Baltimore Station has expressed their excitement on numerous occasions for SFS Baltimore this summer, which is already leading the pack of 12 cities on the docket.
Click HERE to find out how to become a donor or volunteer at The Baltimore Station and help them continue their incredible mission.