Paul’s Place, Inc., a community outreach center dedicated to improving the quality of life in Southwest Baltimore will honor former Secretary for the Maryland Department of Economic and Business Development Aris Melissaratos with the 2014 “Commitment to Community” Award. The award is presented annually to those who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Paul’s Place and the Baltimore community.
“It was love at first sight from the time I first visited Paul’s Place,” said Melissaratos, who now serves as executive in residence and senior advisor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. “Every neighborhood in urban America needs a Paul’s Place. “There is a level of society that sometimes falls behind or through the cracks due to poverty, bad luck, or other factors. But, Paul’s Place is there to provide a safety net for society.”
Melissaratos will be presented with the “Commitment to Community” Award at two Benefit Breakfasts hosted by Paul’s Place. The first will take place on April 23, 2014 at the Hunt Valley Inn in Cockeysville, Md. The second breakfast will be hosted at the Center Club, in downtown Baltimore on May 1, 2014.
Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood and the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities. It serves more than 80,000 guests annually, providing programs, services and support that strengthen individuals and families, foster hope, personal dignity and growth. Bill McLennan is the executive director of Paul’s Place.
“I think Bill is phenomenal and really cares about the place,” said Melissaratos. “That is evident by the great work that they do. I have spent some time down there, and I watch what goes on. They prop you up and help you make it through the tough world we live in. You can always go there and feel welcome.”
Paul’s Place offers several initiatives to support the community including an after school “Mentor Program,” which allows older students and other mentors to help young students with various tasks such as homework, reading and general activities. Held every Tuesday and Thursday, the program helps to teach older students the importance of being a positive role model for younger children.
Paul’s Place also operates the “Summer Outreach Camp for Kids” (SOCKS), which helps to expand the horizon of at-risk students. The summer camp works with children in the community for eight weeks, providing them with wholesome, fun activities and memorable experiences.
Melissaratos hopes to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 for Paul’s Place’s programs and services.
“I’m honored to receive the award, but the award is secondary,” said Melissaratos. “I want to raise money through these Benefit Breakfasts. We have been able to secure lots of sponsorships, but the challenge now is for people to contribute more to the cause. That’s what it’s all about; providing money to provide support to help this neighborhood.”
Melissaratos is recognized throughout the community for his generous contributions, both intellectually and philanthropically, to business organizations and non-profit causes in and around Baltimore. His many honors include the 2009 William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year Award; Baltimore’s Extraordinary Technology Advocate for 2008; Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2009 and Corridor, Inc. Person of the Year for 2012 for the Baltimore/Washington Corridor.
From 2003 to 2007, Melissaratos served as Secretary for the Maryland Department of Economic and Business Development. Currently, he is using his government experience and more than three decades as a Westinghouse Electronics Systems executive to further the mission of Johns Hopkins University. He was a founding co-chair of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council and is a former vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
“For over 50 years, Aris Melissaratos has been such an integral part of the Baltimore community,” said Amy Sauerwalt, director of development for Paul’s Place. “He has really supported the growth and vitality of Baltimore. He believes strongly in the mission of Baltimore, and I have seen that resonate in him when he is here. He has been such a good friend and has really opened new doors to new relationships which have helped us to tell our story to new audiences.”
She added, “Our goal is to raise $200,000, and he put us on pace to accomplish that through the new relationships he has given us. He was the perfect recipient for this award because his lifetime of work embodies the spirit of philanthropy, grace, and empathy that we work every day here at Paul’s Place to show our guests.”
The Benefit Breakfast Community Fundraisers are free but are by invitation only. For more information about Paul’s Place, visit: www.paulsplaceoutreach.org