New college grad thriving in Baltimore art business

For Alexander Curtis, his foray into the business world was a little bit more than having just a dollar and a dream. It was a mission.

Curtis realized that Baltimore artists had few storefront framing and design facilities and opening a business had been a dream of his that he was willing to make numerous sacrifices to bring it to reality.

“As a young kid I always envisioned being in charge of my own destiny,” Curtis said. “I started working at Wimsey Cove Framing and Art the summer before my sophomore year at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Working alongside the owner, I quickly grew to love the framing process, and seeing the transformation of a simple piece of art— be it print, paint, or someone’s family mementos— into a beautiful display.”

While at the MICA, Curtis says he witnessed a range of artwork and also the haphazard ways students and artists presented their work. Simply put, it bothered him and more importantly, it drove Curtis to seek a facility that would work with the artists.

So, in 2014, he opened No Pins Framing located at 10 W. Eager Street in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, which he describes as a high quality brick and mortar retail store focused on art preservation, art handling and framing design services.

All products are designed and assembled in store by dedicated art specialists who believe that Baltimore’s families, artists, and businesses deserve the highest quality wall-ready displays, Curtis said. He’s also working with art organizations including the Maryland Institute College of Art and local community members to promote up and coming artists as well as design professionals.

“I had toyed around with the idea for a few years while working at the other shop, learning the trade from the owner, and seeing from her, what it means to be an entrepreneur,” Curtis said. “When the time came to settle on a senior thesis project, I decided to dive into what it would actually take to build a business. My

entire senior year was dedicated to the branding, financial planning, and store layout, and I took some seminars on small business structure and marketing.”

The process did, at times, take a toll on Curtis but he says he never thought of giving up on his dream.

“Throughout, I felt that I had learned a lot about what I was trying to accomplish and how to get there. So with those plans laid out and a ton of support from my family, I set out to get the funding and find a location,” he said. “In this trade, the work is generally very satisfying, so to say it was difficult wouldn’t be right. Once I would get into the groove and focus on the process, it actually allowed most of my current stress and schoolwork load to slip away.

“However, coming in for long shifts and having to stay focused on the day’s work was difficult especially around finals when papers and large art projects would be coming due,” he said.

Despite the difficulties, Curtis says he is enjoying where he is at today.

“Two years later, it feels like a distant memory but the ever looming deadlines and requirements of school work that come and go throughout the week definitely took a toll.”

Keeping afloat is an entirely different subject, one that Curtis says certainly has its share of challenges but he is ready to face them head on.

His biggest goal is customer satisfaction and ensuring that he turns first time customers into repeat clients.

Curtis admits that his business has struggled the most with outreach, having just a few part-time employees makes it difficult for the entrepreneur to get out into the field and try to recruit new clients.

It hasn’t prevented him from fostering new relationships with several local galleries, designers and artists, even offering space to some, he said.

“Art is never going away— our goal over the next five to 10 years is to expand and open new locations,” Curtis said.

Fans encouraged to vote orange and send O’s players to 2016 MLB All-Star game

The Orioles fans can begin voting to send Orioles players to the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in San Diego, California. This year, the Orioles are encouraging fans to vote early, vote often, and “Vote Orange.”

MLB All-Star Game balloting will once again take place exclusively online at orioles.com/voteorange. Fans can cast their votes for Orioles players up to 35 times per email address with a maximum of five votes in a 24-hour period. Each fan who votes a minimum of five times and selects the Orioles as their “favorite” or “other favorite” club will automatically be entered into the 2016 Orioles All-Star Sweepstakes with a chance to win an All-Star Game jersey signed by the 2016 Orioles All-Stars. Additionally, each fan who votes a minimum of 20 times and selects the Orioles as their “favorite” or “other favorite” club will receive an online promo code valid for a buy one, get one offer for any regularly priced seat for any game in the Orioles series against the Colorado Rockies on July 25-27. Each promo code is valid for up to four tickets. Some exclusions may apply, and all codes must be redeemed at least 24 hours prior to the game.

Fans with Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts are encouraged to promote the Vote Orange campaign by using the hashtag #VoteOrange and by sharing Vote Orange graphics from the Orioles Facebook page with their friends and followers.

Online voting concludes on Thursday, June 30, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. For a complete list of sweepstakes rules, visit www.orioles.com/voteorange.

First Sunday Arts Festivals presented by Great Frogs Winery

— Sunday, May 1, 2016 is your chance to kick off spring celebrations in Annapolis, Maryland. The City will be celebrating May Day and it is the first day of the areas premier art festival, First Sunday Arts. This is your chance to work on your photography skills and photograph the many May Day flower baskets. They are on display from the merchants, vendors and residents throughout downtown Annapolis taking part in the May Day festivities. It will be a friendly competition where the winners of the best May Day flower baskets when ribbons and bragging rights.

The First Sunday Arts Festival is expected to bring over 7,000 locals and visitors on May 1st to West and Calvert Streets in downtown Annapolis. The festival provides shopping opportunities from over 100 local and regional artists and crafters selling their artwork. You will find vendors selling handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, clothing, purses, wood-turnings, furniture, sculpture, photography, paintings, garden art and more. You will find food trucks and even a blacksmith demonstration in Whitmore Park. Plus with Mother’s Day just a week away, it’s the perfect place to find mom a unique and original gift.

All the restaurants in the festival area will be setting up cafes on West Street, so its easy to take a break and enjoy some good food at the festival. Several of the restaurants will also host entertainment indoors during and after the festival including Ramshead Tavern, 49 West Coffeehouse and Gallery and Tsunami. Also new this year will be the Great Frogs Wine Garden located next to Stan and Joe’s Saloon. Here you will be able to sample wines made in Annapolis and purchase wine by the glass or bottle.

Performers throughout the festival will be showcasing live music, dance, theater in four free performance stages including, Weisman Park near the Visitors Center which is s a good spot to relax in the shade, the Garrett Park Guitars Stage in the wine garden next to Stan and Joe’s Saloon, City Gate Park and the Jeremy Ragsdale Sound Studio Stage in Whitmore Park. For the kids there is face painting and a balloon artist.

Plus there are several galleries with new exhibits in the Annapolis Arts and Entertainment District to check out, including Nancy Hammond Gallery, Fin Art, Whitehall Gallery, The Annapolis Collection Gallery and Art Farm. Stop in the visitor’s center on West Street for a map of all the art galleries.

The First Sunday Arts festivals are conveniently located in downtown Annapolis on West Street and Calvert Streets where parking is a breeze. There are five parking garages including: Whitmore and Gott’s parking garages located on the festival grounds and Knighton, Loews and the State Parking Garage within a one-to-three block stroll from the festival. Plus with so many Annapolis’ locals attending the festival, many just walk or bike in from the surrounding downtown Annapolis communities of the Historic District, Murray Hill, Presidents Hill and Clay Street. The high numbers of locals attending also means you will find a lot of friendly pets joining their families at the First Sunday Arts Festivals.

To accommodate the ever-growing festival attendance the festival will again start this year at 11 a.m. instead of noon. This year’s festivals will be on the first Sunday of each month from May to November with a bonus festival on the first Sunday of December called the Annapolis Chocolate Binge Festival.

Admission to the First Sunday Arts Festivals is always free, so bring your friends and family to spend a day out on the town. Free parking is available at the State Parking Garage located at 19 St John Street.

First Sunday Arts Festivals will be Sunday May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7, September 4, October 2, November 6 and December 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Harriett Tubman: Economic freedom fighter

— When Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that Harriet Tubman would grace the new $20 bill, my heart sang hallelujah. Additional changes to the currency were also announced. The back of the $10 bill will now recognize the five leaders of the women’s suffrage movement and the back of the $5 bill to recognize civil rights leaders, and honor historic events from the Lincoln Memorial. The faces on our money will no longer be all pale and male, and that’s progress.

It is especially fitting that Harriet Tubman grace the $20 bill, since she was an economic freedom fighter. She is credited with ushering more than 300 people out of enslavement, many of them family members from the state of Maryland. She hit slaveholders in the pocketbook, costing them billions of today’s dollars. If the average enslaved person sold for $1000 (which is about right for 1860), then the 300 she freed cost $300,000 in 1860 dollars, or about $8.3 million in today’s dollars (calculated from The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index). That’s quite a blow for a slaveholding society to absorb. Every time an enslaved person ran away, they struck a blow for freedom, and a blow against the economic stability of the South.

Enslavement was at the root of the development of contemporary U.S. capitalism. Black lives were the collateral that plantation owners used to purchase more land, to purchase more slaves, to purchase equipment, to expand. Enslaved people were, in many ways, a form of currency. Harriett Tubman gracing the $20 bill makes perfect sense.

The new $10 bill is supposed to be available in 2020, nearly four years from now. The new $20 bill may not be available until 2030. The design and production schedule have to be approved by the Federal Reserve Board. That shouldn’t be much of a challenge— Fed Chairman Janet Yellen has hailed the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, and many have applauded the other elements of currency design. Perhaps the Fed can be lobbied to speed the production schedule up. I can’t wait to cash a check and ask for my money in “Harriets.”

As exciting as the currency design is, it is a symbolic, not a substantive change. Real change would close the income gap between men and women. Real change would close the racial economic gap. Real change would take a look at the reparations issue. In this last year of his Presidency, President Obama could use his executive order to appoint a commission to look into issues of racial economic justice. He could make an amazing, if belated, contribution by bringing the reparations issue to the economic forefront. The Black Lives Matter community has raised the reparations issue with both Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. President Obama would do his successor a favor by starting the public work on this key issue.

I suppose we have to reconcile ourselves to progress at a snail’s pace, to symbolism, not substance. Still, the image our economic freedom fighter on the twenty-dollar bill will be inspirational for all of us, especially for the young people who don’t know all of the sordid details of our history of enslavement. I hope that as we talk about Harriet Tubman on the money, we also talk about the economic impact she had on the institution of slavery by freeing those 300 people. This is part of the history we must never forget, and Tubman’s presence on the $20 will help us to remember.

The most exciting thing about the presence of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is the way that the change came about. The public was engaged. Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions, and participated with some of the online polls that various groups sponsored. The Treasury Secretary asked for public input, and he got it. He says he was surprised about the amount of input that he got. He should not have been. Both women and men were passionate about changing symbols of supremacy, ridding the currency of Andrew Jackson whose role in the oppression of Native Americans was shameful, including women on the currency. Perhaps this passion of symbolism can be converted in passion for substance. Perhaps we can use currency change to trigger a substantive movement for economic justice.

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist in Washington D.C. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available at www.amazon.com and www.juliannemalveaux.com.

Pugh, Van Hollen prevail in key local races

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominated their parties Maryland primaries this week and continue on a collision course for a fall showdown for the top office in the land.

However, Baltimore residents may have been focused more on other races that had more direct local implications.

Chief among them was the race for mayor’s seat where Democratic State Senator Catherine Pugh defeated former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, according to the latest results from the city’s Board of Elections.

With 99 percent of the vote counted, Pugh tallied 36.8 percent to Dixon’s 34.5 percent, propelling her to what most observers believe will be an easy triumph in November over Republican Alan Walden.

Baltimore is heavily Democratic and political observers say its near impossible that Walden could beat Pugh in the fall with registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans by more than two-to-one.

“I am the Democratic nominee,” Pugh told supporters and the media during a speech after most of the votes had been counted late Tuesday. “My message is about inclusion, about lifting up the least of us.”

While Baltimore residents were glued to the mayoral primary, voters also had to decide the contentious race between Representative Chris Van Hollen and Representative Donald Edwards for the state’s Democratic nomination for Senate.

Like Pugh, Van Hollen is now heavily favored to win in November and succeed the retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski. Maryland hasn’t elected a Republican to the Senate in 36 years.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, numbers provided by the State Board of Elections revealed that Van Hollen grabbed 53 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 39 percent.

“I want to say to all Marylanders, whether you are from Baltimore or the Washington suburbs or Western Maryland, Southern Maryland or the Eastern Shore, I will fight hard for you every day in the United States Senate,” Van Hollen said after securing the victory on Tuesday night.

Edwards says the loss means that Maryland is on the verge of having an all-male delegation in what’s known as a progressive state.

“When will the voices of people of color; when will the voices of women; when will the voice of labor; when will the voices of black women; when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders in a big-tent party?” she said during a post-primary speech.

At the end of the night, Mikulski embraced the idea of Van Hollen replacing her.

“It’s always been first and foremost the agenda and Chris Van Hollen and I have exactly the same agenda,” Mikulski said. “I’m comfortable not only handing over the reins but riding on the buckboard to help him get elected.”

In other races, Baltimore City Council President Bernard Young and Comptroller Joan M. Pratt, both Democrats, held onto their seats in the primary.

Kathleen Cox and Keith Truffer, both incumbents were projected winners in the race for Circuit Court Judge in District 3 in Baltimore County.

In Baltimore City, District 8 Circuit Court Justices Shannon Avery, Cynthia Jones, Karen Friedman, Wanda Heard, Audrey Carrion and Michael DiPietro— all incumbents— earned primary victories.

Meanwhile, in Anne Arundel County’s District 5, Circuit Court Justices Glenn Klavans, Stacy McCormack, Donald Schaeffer and Cathy Vitale, all of whom ran together, easily outpaced their closest competitors.

Klavans, however, was behind in the polls to Claudia Barber, who earned the fifth spot on November’s ballot.

Election night usually creates angst among voters and candidates alike and those who work at or near polling places. This election night proved no different.

According to a report from the American Bar Association Journal, a Tuesday hearing at a courthouse downtown took place over whether to extend the time that some polls would be open to voters. The hearing was moved to a nearby sidewalk and parking garage after a fire erupted in the courthouse basement and required the evacuation of the building.

However, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Althea Handy was not deterred and ruled from the bench at around 7:15 p.m. in the parking garage, that four of the polling places in question would be open an extra hour.

The emergency request was made by Edwards’ campaign, which contended that some polls had opened an hour late and lines were forcing voters to wait as long as 45 minutes to cast their ballots, the Journal reported.

Delegate Adrienne A. Jones among women leaders honored by Girl Scouts of Central Maryland

The 36th annual Girl Scouts of Central Maryland Distinguished Women’s Award Celebration was held on April 21, 2016 at the Baltimore Country Club located in Roland Park. Jody Berg, owner and CEO of Media Works, LTD; Sheela Murthy, Esq., president

and founder of Murthy Law Firm; Michele Moore, regional area president, senior vice president of Wells Fargo; Dr. Helene Rodriguez McConnell, president of SMC Business Group; and Del. Adrienne A. Jones, Speaker pro tem (D-Baltimore County) were the 2016 Distinguished Women Honorees.

Violet M. Apple, CEO of Girl Scouts for Central Maryland, explained that during the annual fundraising event, amazing women in the community are honored.

“What this helps us to do is to raise dollars to do some of the programs that we’re doing for girls, whether it’s serving our program, Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, whether it is helping us to run programs that are in the schools through our community programs, or helping us to support Girl Scout troops throughout Central Maryland,” Apple said. “We have almost 24,000 girl members just in Central Maryland. It’s a vibrant program.”

Apple also explained awardees are selected by a distinguished women’s committee based on what women are doing in the community, how active they are and their accomplishments in their chosen profession. Each year, five distinguished women are matched with five Girl Scout shadow mentees who aspire to embody the qualities of each honoree. Apple says that the competitive process to be chosen as a shadow mentee requires each Girl Scout to be interviewed by a six panel group who determines which girls will spend a day at work with honorees who will share their insights, knowledge and experiences.

In addition to many honorees leading their own companies, Del. Jones’ inclusion allowed girls to observe a woman who works in a political field.

“They [the honorees] serve as incredible role models to these girls and almost all of the awardees help us to raise dollars for the organization, and they also allow girls to shadow them and find out what it really is to be a professional woman,” Apple said.

The five Girl Scout shadow mentees described their unique shadow day experiences.

Michaela Hope Creel from Baltimore County shadowed Berg. Grace Fieni from Anne Arundel County had an opportunity to shadow Murthy. Sarah Lohrfink from Baltimore County shadowed McConnell. Luna Danielle Thomas from Harford County was selected to shadow Moore. Jinia Sarkar from Howard County had an opportunity to shadow Jones in Annapolis, to observe a day in the life of a legislator.

Del. Jones, who represents the 10th Legislative District of Baltimore County, has been selected as speaker pro tem of the Maryland House of Delegates twelve times. Additionally, the legislator serves as a member of several business and civic organizations. The service-focused individual said that being selected as an honoree sends a message to girls about their ability to accomplish their goals.

“I think that it sends a message that you can do anything that you put your mind to. Don’t let anyone ever say you can’t. Go with your dreams. Be in contact with people who have those areas which are important to you and learn from them,” Del. Jones said, also mentioning the importance of networking.

Apple says that Del. Jones has many amazing accomplishments, such as being an African-American woman who serves as a speaker pro tem. Her position requires leadership capabilities and confidence, which aligns with the main mission of the Girl Scouts. Apple added that the Girl Scouts strive to build girls of courage, confidence and character who will make the world a better place. The all girls environment allows girls from kindergarten through the twelfth grade to have a safe and comfortable place to grow.

“Sometimes it’s a program that helps to give them a voice, and sometimes in a time when they feel voiceless,” Apple said. “This is not about girls versus boys. It’s really about empowering girls so they feel comfortable to take the lead, and I think that’s what we do in Girl Scouts and I think that is absolutely so important. We want girls to be comfortable. We want them to be comfortable being go-getters [and not to] apologize for being a go-getter.”

Freddie Gray riots ignite a revival

— Much has happened since the rioting in Baltimore last April, following the death of Freddie Gray. The incident drew local, national and international media coverage, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake decided not to seek re-election, former Baltimore City Police Chief Anthony Batts lost his job, and numerous demonstrations and protests have taken place.

The events also ignited the revitalization of Clergy United for the Transformation of Sandtown (CUTS). The Reverend Dr. Derrick DeWitt, pastor of First Mount Calvary Baptist Church serves as president.

“CUTS was started in 1993 but had been dormant,” said Pastor DeWitt. “The Freddie Gray incident revived it. After the riots, there was a lot of focus on negative things in the community, such as crime, hopelessness, and the relationship the residents had with police officers. This was exacerbated by other things going on around the country involving the police. We thought it was important for people to know that we are anchors in the community, to partner with us, and to highlight the great things that are happening here.”

CUTS is comprised of 12 churches of different denominations, including First Mount Calvary, located on Fulton Avenue. The group is working hard to build bridges between the Western District police station and the community through events, chaplain rides with police, and other efforts.

The group’s projects include an urban farming program. According to Pastor DeWitt, the farming program employs former inmates to grow vegetables, and touts 19 greenhouses.

“We grow vegetables, harvest rain, and have greenhouses strictly for the community,” said Pastor DeWitt. “We grow kale, collard greens and nine different kinds of lettuce. We are really excited about the things we are doing. Many media images show liquor stores and other places of business burning, and we realized we had to do a better job to highlight the positive things that are taking place in the Sandtown/Winchester community.”

Pastor DeWitt is also the chief financial officer for The Maryland Baptist Aged Home, located in West Baltimore. He has hired local residents to work at the nursing home, which he plans to more than triple in size by the end of 2017. He wants to use the old building as a training center for local residents to become nurses, janitors and geriatric assistants.

“We provide housing, training, and hire people in the community,” he said. “We have turned a blighted area into an inner city farm, and hire people coming out of incarceration to work on the farm. Other churches in the area offer affordable housing, have implemented Safe Street campaigns, and have schools. The list goes on. Despite the negative images, there are some great things taking place in this community.”

He added, “First Mount Calvary also offers a food pantry. We give away soap, toilet paper, fresh produce, and more. We give people as much as they can carry. We also donate to other churches, and also offer a free program for 60 youngsters in the community.”

Pastor DeWitt has led First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Baltimore since June of 2007. He is credited with resurrecting the church, which had struggled with financial challenges, and was slated to close.

“We paid off our debt,” said the Baltimore native. “The church also has new windows, new gutters, and a new roof. God has allowed us to do some amazing things.”

Pastor DeWitt grew up on Fulton Avenue and attended First Mount Calvary as a child. After graduating from Baltimore City College, he joined the U.S. Army, where he served with distinction as a highly decorated combat veteran, before retiring in 2001. He was ordained in 1991 and received his bachelor of divinity degree in 1995 from Freelandia Bible College and Seminary in Cassville, Missouri. He received a master’s of divinity and a master’s in business administration from Canterbury University in 1999. In March 2009, he received his doctor of arts degree in Theology and Biblical Counseling from Rochester University. He and his wife Cassandra, have four children, Breona, Derrick II, Everado and Anointe’.

“I remember walking to church, and watching people scrub those marble steps on Fulton Avenue,” recalled Pastor DeWitt. “This was a great place to live, but there have been a lot of systemic problems. As resources got smaller, people in certain areas were forgotten. We are seeing the results, such as the lack of jobs, the way we police in the city, and companies pulling out. When you factor all of that in, it opens a panacea of things coming in and taking over the community. We are doing what we can to change that, but need more resources and money. With those things, we could do even more.”

Prince: Musicians die but never the music

Prince Rogers Nelson is gone but will be forever remembered by his music. We are always struck hard when an icon suddenly departs from this life. Regardless of how and why Prince left us so suddenly, his fans mourn.

Musicians leave a print on the earth. Elvis fans remember the moment and the very place they were when they first heard his death announced. Many of us will never forget the chilling news of John Lennon’s assassination. Only recently we mourned the death of David Bowie and Merle Haggard.

Some musicians it seems are eternal as Chuck Berry almost 90 and Jerry Lee Lewis who is 80, both entertained forever it seems. I saw Jerry Lee in Owensboro, Kentucky well into his seventies. He could actually still play the piano very well. The hip gyration move had lost some of it gravitas but hey he was still entertaining 4000 people that night. And then of course there is Tony Bennett who is approaching 90 and still performing. Some of us wonder if The Rolling Stones will be touring when they hit 80. Paul McCartney is still rocking at age 73. All of these people will die but their music never will.

Life is great when people are still able to participate and enjoy life. Prince leaving us at age 57 makes it all the more shocking. Reports are that Prince recently presented great concerts in Georgia. Over the weekend he entertained a small gathering in Minnesota and as always, he presented his music with passion, genius and celebration. Such musical celebration mystifies us even more. It’s hard for anyone to fathom something being wrong when an artist is seemingly hitting all the right keys.

However, the greatest artists fool us. David Bowie was sick but managed to squeeze out one last album. Glen Frey of The Eagles wowed us last summer on tour but is now gone. Robin Williams, of course not a singer but a famed comedian, could always make us laugh but he masked the internal demons that overtook his life. Elvis could still sing and entertain us even though we were not aware of his prescription addiction until his death.

More will be said about Prince’s untimely death in the days ahead. In the meantime his life will live on through his music and his music will live on in us.

Glenn Mollette is an American Syndicated Columnist and the author of eleven books and his column appears in all fifty states. Mollette’s books are available at: Amazon.com

A line crossed in Wichita

— As we have seen from recent events in Paris, Brussels and all across the world, terrorism is not an obscure phenomenon that only impacts the Middle East. No longer can Americans ignore the threat of terrorism as primarily a European problem.

Although attacks in the United States are less frequent due, in part, to our distance from the region, increasingly, leaders associated with terrorist groups are now finding their way onto American soil.

Not only must we be concerned about terrorist cells hiding in communities around the United States, but we now also have to worry about domestic Muslim organizations, such as the Islamic Society of Wichita (ISW), providing an outlet for terrorist recruitment and incitement. These very groups that seek to cause us harm now have a place to spread their hateful rhetoric in the United States.

Recently, ISW invited Sheik Monzer Taleb, a man with a long record of fundraising and support for the designated terror group Hamas, to speak at the mosque on Good Friday. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which gained international notoriety for unleashing suicide terrorism against Israelis. It advocates not only for the complete destruction of the Jewish state, but seeks the genocide of the Jews worldwide.

Taleb is captured on a promotional-videotape affirming his allegiance to Hamas, which murdered scores of innocents and has long been deemed a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government. As stated in a press release released by the office of Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), whose district includes ISW, Talib was named a co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism finance case, in which millions of American dollars were funneled to Hamas.

What is most troubling about this Talib situation is that the Islamic Society of Wichita apparently does not find his Hamas affiliation problematic. In fact, the ISW likely would not have cancelled his appearance were it not for Congressman Pompeo’s vehement and vocal opposition.

At the core of our democratic society is free speech, an ideal that traces its origins all the way back to ancient Athens. It is a cornerstone of our society and one of the markers of the land of the free. It is disturbingly ironic that IWS has taken this perennial symbol of American freedom and twisted it into a pulpit for hatred and oppression. After all, free speech is nonexistent in a place like Gaza, where Taleb’s vaunted Hamas rules.

We cannot permit radical jihadists to utilize our most sacred values to support their perverse outlook. We should not welcome them into our country, and must deny them the microphone they seek to spread their hateful vitriol. Proponents of this radical Islamist mindset view the West as a “kurrfars,” or infidels who aren’t worthy of life unless they submit themselves to Islamic law as subjugated “Dhimmis.” We must use our freedom of speech to shed light upon and denounce this vulgar hatred.

We simply must not allow freedom of speech to be used against America to recruit new adherents to the warped ideology of terrorism. There is no easy way around this. We need to defend our Constitutional right to speech— yes, even speech we find detestable, but we also must protect our nation and our people from the scourge of terrorism.

Most Muslims in America may be good citizens who renounce violence. However, organizations like the ISW, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation have proven themselves terrorist sympathizers at best and terrorist co-conspirators at worst. If we cannot find a way to cut off the radical indoctrination these organizations espouse, then we could be facing a bloody future that looks more and more like Europe in 2016.

Read Armstrong Williams, author of the brand new book “Reawakening Virtues,” content onRightSideWire.com.

Maryland Faith Community Health Network aims to keep congregants healthy

— Reverend Domanic A. Smith, pastor of Ezekiel Church and Ministries, located at 3215 W. Belvedere Avenue in Baltimore City says many churches are faced with the challenge of congregants being admitted to the hospital without their fellow members being notified. Pastor Smith feels that if congregants are aware of a member’s hospitalization, they can provide needed support.

“Oftentimes, church congregants are admitted to the hospital, but the pastor and others aren’t told,” said Pastor Smith. “It’s hard for us to assist them with whatever their needs might be.”

The Maryland Faith Community Health Network, a new, free pilot program at LifeBridge Health, is seeking to change this all too common scenario, by helping faith leaders to deploy their ministry resources. The goal is to provide timely, appropriate support for their ailing congregants.

LifeBridge Health owns Sinai, Northwest and Carroll hospitals. Several Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, and Harford County churches, which include Ezekiel Church and Ministries, have signed on to the program, which provides a direct link between places of worship and LifeBridge’s hospitals.

Pastor Smith also serves as a staff protestant chaplain at LifeBridge Health. In January 2016, he became the pastoral outreach coordinator within Population Health at LifeBridge Health.

“The goal of this program is to foster better relationships between the faith and health communities,” said Pastor Smith. “Oftentimes, parishioners go into the hospital and members of their church do not know. This program seeks to give churches the opportunity to help the congregant once they leave the hospital. This includes things like helping the congregant with their meals, picking up their prescriptions, getting to appointments, helping them with laundry, and cutting their grass.”

He added, “Sometimes, a person doesn’t think about those things when they are sick. The benefit of this program is that faith leaders know when their parishioners are admitted to the hospital, and deploys the ministry resources more effectively and efficiently.”

The Maryland Faith Community Health Network is based on the successful Congregational Health Network program in Memphis, Tennessee, where hospitals trained volunteers in faith communities.

“Our goal is to help congregations to enhance their ministry around the sick, by providing visitation and provided needed support,” said Pastor Smith. “Many times people go back to the hospital with the same issues because of small issues. These small issues could be things like not being able to get their medicine. The congregation can help them with things like that. This program engages the faith community by helping their congregants to live a better, healthier, life.”

The Maryland Faith Community Health Network is encouraging churches to enroll. After entering an agreement with the network, the church appoints an appropriate contact person and encourages members of the congregation to participate.

When congregants are admitted to a LifeBridge hospital, they can show their Network card, and the hospital will contact the appointed representative to let them know they would like a call or a visit from someone in the congregation and any other support the members could offer. Finally, when the congregant goes home from the hospital, the member and representative will have a single point person at the hospital to contact to resolve issues, questions, or complications.

“Now hospitals are charged to take preventative measures to make healthcare better,” said Pastor Smith. “I will get a report on a patient at Sinai and Northwest hospitals, and ask if they would like their church liaison to be contacted. We will not tell what the health issue is, as we follow the HIPAA privacy rule. The patient can share their medical information, but we will not.”

He added, “However far the patient wants their congregation to help, that’s how far they go. People are excited about the program. It provides avenues for people to check on their congregants while they are in the hospital, and after being discharged.”

Vincent DeMarco is the president of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative Education Fund. In 1999, the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative established the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition. The mission of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative is to educate Marylanders about feasible and effective ways to expand access to quality affordable health insurance for state residents.

“The Maryland Faith Community Health Network will improve and reduce health disparities, and make life better for many Marylanders,” said DeMarco. “We hope to expand this partnership to all the other hospitals soon. We are thrilled that the hospitals and faith-based communities are committed to making this work.”

He added, “It’s important to give support to people in church congregations who are called to improve the lives of their congregants. This program provides the necessary support to allow them to do something they have always wanted to do, which is to help their congregants to stay healthy.”

For more information about The Maryland Faith Community Health Network, call 410-235-9000, or visit: www.healthcareforall.com.