Baltimore – a city made famous worldwide by HBO dramas like The Wire and The Corner for its ruthless illegal drug trade, unscrupulous police practices, corrupt politicians and failing public school system – is a city filled with hope. And in what might seem like a hopeless situation to some, there are many men and women in Baltimore who are on the ground standing firm and taking action to fight the maladies that plague this great city. This article is the eighth of an on-going series that spotlights locals who are making a difference and positively impacting the lives of others.
Baltimore’s Best: Richard A. Henderson
“My life work is doing community work and being able to help anyone that I come in contact with or help guide them to the right resources…I have spent much of my life being able to help people and point them in the right direction for help…all the glory goes to God because He gives me the strength to do community work every day.” – Richard A. Henderson
The son of the late John W. and Daphne Henderson, Richard A. Henderson is a native of Pennsylvania who relocated to Baltimore, MD to fulfill a pastoral call on his life. Pastor Henderson works as a Project Coordinator for the East Baltimore Drug Free Coalition which is grant funded through the National African American Drug Policy Coalition at the prestigious Howard University. Pastor Henderson’s office is located at the Oliver Community Association in East Baltimore. I had the opportunity to interview Pastor Henderson who is truly one of Baltimore’s best!
LP: How are you making a difference and impacting lives in Baltimore?
RH: I think that I’m making a difference in people’s lives by trying to help the best way that I can through providing resources, being honest and genuine to them. If I can help one then that one will tell someone else about what they were able to receive. Also, I know that being able to understand them from where people are coming from and also being an effective listener – understanding the needs and struggles that they have every day.
LP: What do you feel is the greatest challenge in making Baltimore a better place to live, work, play, learn and pray?
RH: I think that one of the largest challenges that this city faces is employment opportunities for everyone. Not everyone has the same opportunities to get a job because there are issues such as education, environmental factors, crime, criminal histories, self-esteem, anger issues and other conditions that limit a person’s ability to get a job. I know that if there were more jobs created that this would eliminate crime and create a better living environment in the community. It would also allow people to work closer together and would put Baltimore on the map in a much more positive light because Baltimore is a great city, and it will get better.
LP: What solutions do you believe would help make Baltimore a better place to live, work, play, learn and pray?
RH: The solution is jobs and the creation of jobs for all people. There are so many people without jobs that have skills to work, but they have gotten distracted and involved in other things which lead to trouble. One solution is being a good listener and an understander of what people are going through especially our youth; then, being able to come up with a solution to fix the problem. I know if people had jobs they would do better and the communities would be better.
LP: What actions are you taking to make Baltimore a better place to live, work, play, learn and pray?
RH: Two close brothers, Rev. C.D. Witherspoon and Mark Hughes, always complement me on some of the work I do in the community. Two of my former co-workers and friends – Tard Carter and Donte Barksdale – used to sit with me in my office and share the struggles of youth and adults that were having a rough time making it because of not having jobs. When I worked in Druid Heights, I had an opportunity to talk with and spend much time with Maggie Quille. There were a number of things that I learned from her relating to the community and interacting with youth. One day, I was out in the community talking with her and she pulled up some young men in the community and questioned them about the t-shirts they were wearing and she gave them an explanation of what it meant to her. The next day those same boys walked past her house with different color t-shirts and give her the utmost respect. The actions that I’m taking to make Baltimore a better place are to just continue to be available to help people and get them connected to the right services. If I can help one person, then I would hope that, that one person will tell someone else where they got help and it will continue on.
LP: What is Baltimore’s greatest asset?
RH: I know that one of the greatest assets in Baltimore is its communities. [Communities with] a rich history of men and women who have done some great things that have continued to help the city improve and move forward. When I worked for the Druid Heights CDC under the leadership of Jackie Cornish one of the things that she reminded us often was that Druid Heights was on the rise – speaking of its great history and how it was on the rise to becoming a better community. Druid Heights is just one example and the people in the communities across the city working together can make Baltimore a better place to live, work, worship and play. Another of Baltimore’s greatest assets is the people. As I mentioned, there are many great people in this city who can make things happen. [Their actions] can change how Baltimore is viewed and the time is now. You Can Do It. You Have the Knowledge. You Have the Ability. You Have the Opportunity. You Have the Power to…CHANGE.
If you would like to connect with Pastor Richard A. Henderson, CLICK HERE.