When we think about networking as young professionals, we tend to think about “grabbing a cup of coffee.” Even those of us who are not coffee drinkers often rely on this phrase to facilitate a casual meet-up during business hours to learn about opportunities, catch up with colleagues and have a more informal work meeting. A cup of coffee, however, can lead to so much more than a short meeting — it can change someone’s life.
My Brother’s Keeper, a community program operated by Catholic Charities that serves the Irvington neighborhood of West Baltimore, started with a cup of coffee. Well, several cups of coffee. My Brother’s Keeper started as a place to provide a cup of coffee and now does that and so much more. In addition to providing daily meals, the program offers case management, workforce development, youth services and mental and behavioral assistance. Based in the J.P. Blase Cooke Building, the program integrated with Catholic Charities in 2018 and has dramatically expanded its meal and service offerings.
The Alliance for Catholic Charities is a social and volunteer organization dedicated to raising awareness and support for the more than 80 programs operated by Catholic Charities of Baltimore for people living in need. The alliance seeks to engage Baltimore-area professionals through networking and volunteer and outreach efforts designed to promote Catholic Charities’ mission to improve the lives of more than 160,000 Maryland individuals and families of all faiths, ages and ethnicities.
Just as many of our coffee meetings lead to big ideas, support for organizations like My Brother’s Keeper and Catholic Charities can start small but lead to meaningful change. Use opportunities to network and find a way to learn about opportunities with organizations like My Brother’s Keeper and about how you can get involved. For those who prefer happy hour networking events to a cup of coffee, note that on Sept. 13, 2019, the Alliance for Catholic Charities will hold The End of Summer Garden Gala to support My Brother’s Keeper.
Let’s grab a cup of coffee and remember that community engagement can start with a small gesture or plan and grow into something that facilitates systemic change and progress.