MSU Students Participate In Hands-On Historic Preservation Training Projects

Morgan State University (MSU) students are participating in a program this summer that aims to bring young African American students working toward architecture degrees into historic preservation and related career paths.

“Touching History: Preservation in Practice” is a program developed jointly by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), the National Park Service (NPS), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s (NTHP) HOPE Crew designed to raise awareness about the importance of historic preservation and conservation while, at the same time, engaging a new generation of preservation professionals and complete urgent preservation work at America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) campuses.

“Touching History gives students the opportunity to grow as a person, grow as a professional, and connect to their shared history and heritage,” said Robert G. Stanton, ACHP expert member and former National Park Service director. “The historic preservation and conservation fields need young people like these six Morgan State students. This internship could lead them in a new direction for their careers and is giving them an understanding of the importance of telling the whole story of the American experience.”

Zahaira Williams works on restoring a window at MSU’s Memorial Chapel

Courtesy Photo/MSU

Zahaira Williams works on restoring a window at MSU’s Memorial Chapel

Six MSU students, Tyriq Charleus; Devin Funderburk; Danasha Kelly; Terry Mayo Jr.; Stephanie Walker; and Zahaira Williams are working on a preservation and conservation project through this partnership with a HOPE (Hands-On Preservation Experience) Crew team. HOPE Crew is a nationwide initiative connecting hundreds of young people to preservation trades while breathing new life into historic structures across the country. In Baltimore, the team is working on two principal projects: window restoration at Morgan State University’s Memorial Chapel and masonry work at the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture.

“Investing in our future preservation leaders is one of the most important things the National Park Service can do to further its mission,” said National Park Service acting deputy director for operations David Vela. “We are dedicated to providing access to real-world experiences for our nation’s youth and young professionals, so that together we can preserve our shared historic and cultural resources.”

Prior to their work at MSU, the students worked at the National Park Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation, located in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Students spent time at the Bar BC Dude Ranch, established in 1912 as a dude ranch using a style called “Dude Ranch Vernacular” and completed the “Guiding Principles for Historic Preservation,” a course on field-based historic preservation, documentation, hands-on treatment, and heritage asset maintenance planning.

“Beyond addressing critical maintenance and preservation needs at HBCU buildings, we want this HOPE Crew project to make a difference in the lives of future preservation leaders,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “We’re excited to continue broadening the preservation movement with this partnership that allows African American college students to see first-hand what happens when theory meets practice in preservation trades.”

During their final week, the students will join Stanton on field trips to historic places in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area. They also will travel to St. Mary’s College in Maryland to work with former ACHP expert member and professor of anthropology Julia King, who worked with St. Mary’s College to uncover evidence of enslaved people’s quarters on the proposed site for the school’s athletic stadium.

The Touching History: Preservation in Practice program is funded by the NPS, the NTHP,- which receives additional financial support from the Fund II Foundation,-and in-kind support from the ACHP.

“Supporting initiatives that preserve African American history and culture along with creating opportunities for young people of color in diverse STEM-related fields are important parts of our mission as a Foundation,” said Linda Wilson, executive director, Fund II Foundation. “This work will enrich communities for many years to come.”

As a final task, the students will create a portfolio that will point out the importance of preserving and restoring the historic buildings that are a part of the MSU campus. MSU has 20 structures eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2016, the NTHP designated MSU one of its National Treasures and is partnering with the school to develop a preservation plan.

“There’s no better way to prepare our students for successful careers than to give them hands-on training,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. “This program is a great opportunity for Morgan State students to test their skills, while also providing a crucial service to the University. In the Senate, I will continue working to support programs like this, which give students valuable work experience and promote opportunity at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

The Black Man Who Saved Memphis: Robert R. Church

With a 7 p.m. parade down Beale Street to Church Park, Memphis celebrated the birth of Robert Reid Church Sr. as a part of the Memphis Bicentennial.

Mayor Jim Strickland issued a proclamation that was received by Ron Walters, general manager of WREG TV and a local historian. Mini speeches took place and good fellowship abounded.

One hundred eighty years ago, on June 18th in Holly Springs, Miss., Robert R. Church was born to a slave girl named Emmeline and Captain Charles B. Church. Owner and operator of two of the most patronized steamboats on the Mississippi River, Church transported cargo and passengers between Memphis and New Orleans.

In 1851, Emmeline died and Robert Church was sent to live with his father on the Mississippi River. Emmeline had secured Capt. Church’s pledge that her son Robert would never be sold to another slave owner.

Sending Robert to his father was his intended passport to the North and the best education money could buy. Church bonded with his son, deciding to raise him and teach him the steamboat business.

From errand boy to steward, Robert served as an assistant to his father in many capacities, learning the principles of business, with an emphasis on bookkeeping. Capt. Church taught Robert to read and count receipts in French. A fast learner, Robert listened intently to his father’s instructions.

“Be considerate of others but always demand respect for self,” admonished Captain Church to his son. “Never allow anybody to call you a nigger.”

This hands-on education and the 11-year apprenticeship thoroughly prepared Robert for the tumultuous life he would face in the fast-growing river town of Memphis and the bustling street called Beale.

On June 6, 1862, the Civil War registered in Memphis as the Federal Fleet arrived in the Memphis Harbor with cannons blasting. Robert Church was serving as steward of the Victoria. When federal troops took over the Victoria, Robert was forced to make a decision: Be killed or be captured and become a prisoner of war. Robert chose to jump into the river and swim to the muddy banks of Memphis.

With the savings from his work on the river, Robert entered business in Memphis. His first investments were in real estate and soon he expanded to hotels, pool halls, brothels, saloons and, ultimately, a bank.

Soon after the Civil War, Memphis was consumed by the Yellow Fever epidemic and the racial tensions that led to violence, death and destruction. Four days after the announcement that the plague was present in Memphis, 25,000 people fled the city. Robert Church acquired many abandoned properties, expanding on his real estate holdings. He could have left in a panic, choosing instead to contribute generously to helping Memphis recover.

African Americans remained in Memphis and by 1878 they were 70 percent of the population. African Americans constituted an overwhelming majority of the 3,000 nurses left to take care of the stricken. The entire workforce assigned by city officials to clean up the streets, bury the dead, clean up the dumps, drain the bayous, burn contaminated rags and spread lime over the vacant lots were African Americans. These heroic efforts were performed with great risk in the true sense of altruism.

The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 eroded the tax base and city coffers. Memphis was unable to service a $5 million debt, adequately provide city services and pay state taxes. The city was stripped of its charter and reduced to a taxing district.

The State of Tennessee appointed Dr. D.T. Porter and David Hadden to provide leadership to the “taxing district on the bluff.” Under austere supervision and tight fiscal controls, Memphis began to rise from the ashes of devastation.

Prominent citizens debated strategies to be relieved of the debt and restore Memphis to city status. But Memphis needed investors willing to take a chance on the future. The bond market was uncertain about the potential of Memphis and most citizens were reluctant to take a chance on Memphis.

Throughout, Robert R. Church remained bullish on Memphis. In 1885, he purchased the first $1,000 municipal bond, breaking the dam of fear. By that summer, local banks and wealthy individuals purchased more than $200,000 worth of bonds. Memphis accepted responsibility for the $5 million debt and continued to rid the city of unsanitary conditions.

In 1891, the Tennessee State Legislature restored Memphis’ charter and its city designation. Two years later, Memphis was given taxing authority and home rule. That accomplishment may well be attributable to Robert R. Church for his courageous act of selflessness and his commitment to Memphis.

An editorial in the Evening Scimitar in 1899 put Church’s legacy in this context: “It may be said of Robert R. Church that his word is as good as his bond. No appeal to him for the aid of charity or public enterprise for the benefit of Memphis has ever been in vain. He is for Memphis first, last and all the time…”

John Overton, Andrew Jackson and James Winchester founded Memphis in 1819. It is safe to say, in 1885, Robert R. Church saved Memphis.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Church; and thanks a million for Memphis and Beale Street!

Reverend Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr., pastor emeritus of New Sardis Baptist Church.

Improvements In Modular Homes Make Them A Competitive Alternative To Site-Built Homes

— For many decades the preferred homebuilding method has been to assemble all the construction materials on site and build from the ground up, usually over a period of about six or more months. This is still the method used to construct some 90 percent of homes being built today.

A completely different method of offsite homebuilding— modular construction— has also been around for many decades, but has not gained much traction until recently.

“Over the last 20 years,” said Maria Coutts, president of The Coutts Group and a senior officer of the Pennsylvania Builders Association, “the customization of modular homes has a consistent record of matching site-built homes and meeting customer demand, largely due to the use of computer-aided design.

“The use of overhead cranes also allows modular structures to be as wide and as high as desired.”

In modern modular construction, modules are manufactured in a climate-controlled factory environment.

“This decreases the possibility of the materials being exposed to rain, snow and wind,” Coutts explains. “Prolonged exposure to these elements can lead to warping, mold and nail pops throughout the home. Also, squeaky floors and steps can be an issue if it is raining or snowing during a site build.”

Jeff Holdren, district sales manager, western territories, for North Carolina-based Holmes Building Systems, agrees with Coutts that quality control is greatly enhanced with modular building.

“Actually, if you think about it,” Holdren said, “a modular home is a lot stronger structure. You have to be able to pick it up, put it on a transport and wind tunnel test it to 60 miles an hour.”

Both Coutts and Holdren point to the relative speed of construction of modular versus site-built homes.

“The time a site builder might be involved in the construction process,” said Coutts, “is tremendous and with modular this time is cut in half.”

Holdren concurs, noting, “A home can be finished within 120 days from the time we start.

“Many of the homes featured on the television series ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ are modular homes because of the speed required by the production schedule.”

Coutts and Holdren also agree that the public at large is not aware of the many advantages of modular construction.

“Modular homes are much better than when I started in 2002, 17 years ago,” Holdren said. He attributes the lack of growth in part to the failure of his industry to better educate the public.

“We do not do a great job of educating people. There is still a general perception that a modular home is inferior,” Holdren notes.

However, Coutts is optimistic that this is changing.

“Site-built construction has been the standard for so long that consumers don’t always research both sides, pro and con, of these two styles. As the concepts and practices of modular construction are becoming more popular with the general public, more consumers are becoming very receptive to this building practice,” she said.

Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Coutts notes that modular construction has gained much more of a foothold in Europe than it has in the U.S.

“Modular construction will eventually increase in use similar to the northern European countries of Denmark, Sweden and Germany,” said Coutts, “where it accounts for 20 to 85 percent of total annual builds.”

Firefly: The Experience

Anyone who knows my work knows that I am an avid music fan. Well, to use the word fan is an understatement. Besides listening to music, writing, performing and reviewing are some of the other activities that go along with my musical experiences. Let’s just say, I live and breathe this stuff!

Just recently, I had the opportunity to cover and attend the 8th annual Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware. Firefly is one of the most popular festivals in the country, which has hosted some very notable names in the music industry. Some if the prior acts in the past, include: The Weeknd; Florence + the Machine; and Tom Petty, plus a slew of other performers in very high demand.

Before I get into the performances and my personal experiences with some of the artists, let’s talk about the overall feel of the festival. Firefly isn’t just a one-day thing— it lasts for three-days, with each day ending at about 2 a.m. It’s truly both a mental and physical investment for those who attend.

The first day of the festival, I got up very early to see if there were long lines in the will call area because the first act would begin at 11 a.m. People already started picking up their tickets 6 a.m. This itself was a true part of the experience— an unspoken subculture involved in the process.

With a collective jubilance is in the air, people were blaring music from their cars, people were dancing and chatting with friends in the parking lot— it all felt very natural and in order. The parking lot was full of vehicles with different license plates from around the country, a fun sight to see and the campgrounds were buzzing with people, full fledged tents, water coolers and all other necessities needed for the outdoors.

Post Malone


Post Malone

Now to the music— This year’s festival lineup did not disappoint. Panic at the Disco!; Travis Scott; and Post Malone all proved why they are headliners. All three acts drew massive crowds and used the stage to their best advantage. It was obvious they were all seasoned and knew the command they could have over an audience. It never hurts when each one of them has an assortment of hit songs and have reached incredible levels of success as well. Singing along was prevalent and people were not shy in letting the artists know how much they loved them.

When I wasn’t looking at the acts or trying to figure out what was for lunch, I was having conversations with some of the artists for my “SwanoDown SitDown” video series. Some artists that you can expect to see are Ziggy Alberts, Evan Westfall from the group Caamp, and Post Malone affiliate, Tyla Yaweh. Each artist was thoroughly engaging during our discussions, and I truly enjoyed speaking with them.

Keep an eye out for our SwanoDown SitDowns on The Baltimore Times website: and YouTube pages.

In the meantime… Stay Virtuous. Stay Idealistic. Stay Progressive.

Serena Williams Gets First ‘Wheaties’ Box Cover, Hopes To Inspire Next Generation

The tennis champ follows in the footsteps of Althea Gibson

Serena Williams started July off with a bang, becoming the new face on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The cereal giant announced the honor on June 25 with a tweet: “She’s an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. She’s a philanthropist. She’s a mother. @serenawilliams is a Champion. #ShesAChampion”

For Williams, the achievement fulfills a long-held goal. “I have dreamt of this since I was a young woman and it’s an honor to join the ranks of some of America’s most decorated athletes,” Williams said in a press release.

One of those decorated athletes includes tennis great Althea Gibson, who became the first Black female tennis player to grace Wheaties cover in 2001.

On Instagram, Williams made sure her 11.1M followers knew the score. “In 2001, Wheaties paid homage to a true champion and an icon by putting her on the cover of a Wheaties Box. Althea Gibson was the FIRST Black Woman tennis player to be on the box. Today, I am honored to be the second.”

Gibson and Williams are among just a handful of Black women to covet a “Breakfast of Champions” cover. Gymnast Dominique Dawes received hers in 1996 and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 2004.

“Serena exemplifies all of the personal attributes that Wheaties looks for when choosing who its next champion will be,” stated Wheaties Marketing Manager Tiffani Daniels in a press release. “On the court, she has been named the women’s most valuable player seven times, while off the court she uses her voice to inspire and spark change to make the world a better place.”

Williams, widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, is currently competing at Wimbledon in both women’s singles and mixed doubles with Andy Murray. She’s on a quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles title. She’s won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals.

The limited-edition Wheaties box featuring Williams will be on the shelves for the month of July. “I hope my image on this iconic orange box will inspire the next generation of girls and athletes to dream big,” said Williams.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

Empire Star Taraji Henson Speaks On Suicide And Mental Health On Capitol Hill

“I am here using my celebrity, using my voice, to put a face to this, because I also suffer from depression and anxiety. If you’re a human living in today’s world, I don’t know how you’re not suffering in any way.”


Taraji P. Henson on Mental Health Issues

Award-winning actress and ‘Empire’ star Taraji P. Henson testified before members of Congress on mental health issues in the African American community.

The Congressional Black Caucus launched a task force on mental health issues in April of this year. They have held hearings on mental health and the increasing number of suicides among black youth. The CBC Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health is chaired by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ).

The members of the task force are Reps. Alma Adams (D-NC), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Danny Davis (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

“I’m here to appeal to you because this is a national crisis,” Henson said. Henson founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community with a specific emphasis on the suicide rate among Black youth.

“I really don’t know how to fix this problem, I just know that the suicide rate is rising,” she said. “I just know that ages of the children that are committing suicide are getting younger and younger,” the actress added.

“It breaks my heart to know that 5-year-old children are contemplating life and death, I just…I’m sorry. That one is tough for me. So, I’m here to appeal to you, because this is a national crisis. When I hear of kids going into bathrooms, cutting themselves, you’re supposed to feel safe in school,” Henson told the members of Congress and those in the audience in a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Every year, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness, but a National Alliance on Mental Illness study discovered that black adults utilize mental health services at half the rate of white adults.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at and on twitter at @LVBurke

If You’re Poor In America, Debtor’s Prison Is Real

— Despite a centuries-old Supreme Court ruling that outlawed the practice, debtor’s prison remains very much alive in America, experts told NNPA Newswire. Being poor is challenging enough, but some states, like Missouri, have continued to punish those of lesser means.

A federal class-action suit claims thousands of those living in Missouri were jailed because they couldn’t pay off fines – essentially, a debtor’s prison and conundrum for the poor.

Pro Publica reported that four years after the suit was filed, the plaintiffs are still waiting, and wondering if the deck is stacked against them.

The report details the plight of Tonya DeBerry, who, in January 2014, was driving through an unincorporated area of St. Louis County, Missouri, when a police officer pulled her over for having expired license plates.

“After discovering that DeBerry, 51, had several outstanding traffic tickets from three jurisdictions, the officer handcuffed her and took her to jail,” according to Pro Publica.

“To be released, she was told, she would have to pay hundreds of dollars in fines she owed the county, according to her account in a federal lawsuit. However, even after her family came up with the money, DeBerry wasn’t released from custody.

Because DeBerry still owed fines and fees to the cities in Ferguson and Jennings, she remained jailed and her attorney likened it to “being held for ransom.”

“The crisis that is going on in Missouri is taking place all around the country. It is a rising issue amongst people who cannot afford to pay court fees and, or fines,” said Attorney Dameka L. Davis of the Davis Legal Center in Hollywood, Fla.

“I believe the more appropriate action is to implement programs and services that are free or offer a person to do community service in lieu of paying fines or fees,” Davis said.

“Our system is perpetuating a money-based system, which in turn systematically affects minorities and people of color,” she said.

Matt C. Pinsker, an adjunct professor of Homeland Security and Criminal Justice in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, said the problem runs deeper than in Missouri.

“The American people would be horrified if they knew of just how many laws still exist which send poor people to prison over their inability to pay fines, court costs, and related expenses,” Pinsker said.

“It is a tragedy and absurdity that we will essentially have debtors’ prisons here in the United States of America,” he said.

In DeBerry’s case, Pro Publica reported that after the Michael Brown killing, “the city slowly stopped jailing people for not being able to pay fines as the news media showed the victims were primarily black and the Justice Department made clear that what Ferguson had been doing was wrong.”

Still, the lawsuit remains unresolved with the city seeking dismissal.

In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union detailed more than 1,000 cases in 26 states in which judges, acting on the request of a collection company, issued warrants for people they claimed owed money for “ordinary debts, such as student loans, medical expenses, unpaid rent and utility bills.”

The ACLU said it’s a system that breeds coercion and abuse.

The report concluded that, “with little government oversight, debt collectors, backed by arrest warrants and wielding bounced check demand letters, can frighten people into paying money that may not even be owed.”

Few tools are as coercive or as effective as the threat of incarceration, ACLU report authors said.

As an example, one 75-year-old woman subsisting on $800 monthly Social Security checks, went without her medications in order to pay the fees she believed were required to avoid jail time for bouncing a check.

And as one lawyer in Texas, who has sought arrests of student loan borrowers who are in arrears, said, “It’s easier to settle when the debtor is under arrest,” the report’s authors found.

The people who are jailed or threatened with jail often are the most vulnerable Americans living paycheck to paycheck, one emergency away from financial catastrophe, the report said.

Many were struggling to recover after the loss of a job, mounting medical bills, the death of a family member, a divorce, or an illness.

“They included retirees or people with disabilities who are unable to work. Some were subsisting solely on Social Security, unemployment insurance, disability benefits, or veterans’ benefits – income that is legally protected from outstanding debt judgments,” the report’s authors wrote.

It’s Like Father Like Son For Ravens Wide Receiver Joe Horn Jr.

Anyone who has been an earnest fan of the NFL will see a blast from the past when the Baltimore Ravens rookies report for training camp next week.

Undrafted free agent Joe Horn Jr. will be one of the wide receivers to take to the field. Like his son, Joe Horn Sr. was a long shot to make it in the NFL.

Horn got his start in professional football when he landed on the practice squad for the then Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He then spent 1995 with the Shreveport Pirates and Memphis Mad Dogs before being selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of 1996 NFL Draft. Horn caught on with the New Orleans Saints and made it to four Pro Bowls.

Almost 25 years later, the younger Horn is looking to take a more direct path to the NFL in the same city that introduced his father to professional football. Horn Jr. has a striking resemblance to his father. The rookie out of Missouri Western State only posted 15 receptions for 246 yards in 11 games against Division II opponents but he did enough to earn himself an invitation to camp. The coaching staff were impressed with him.

“Joe Horn Jr. looked really good. I guess the thing that struck me about him was he looked like Joe Horn. His son looks like him: quick, fast, really good hands, in and out of his breaks,” Head Coach John Harbaugh told ESPN during rookie minicamp.

The elder Horn was a stickler for proper technique. Before he tried out for the CFL, Horn obtained, a Jerry Rice workout tape, so he could study the drills and learn the technique that Rice used in the video. Playing with proper technique helped him play well enough to earn a spot in the Saints Hall of Fame.

The technique that he played with was passed down to his son. It showed during rookie minicamp when Horn excelled on the football field with the same #87 that his father wore.

“You can tell he worked with his dad a lot on technique. I thought he looked excellent,” Harbaugh said.

The Ravens have a young group of receivers, so landing on the final 53-man roster is going to be tough. Horn will give it his best shot and see how things workout. Who knows, perhaps his first experience, as a pro will be on a practice squad for a Baltimore professional team just like his father.

How To Keep Summer Activities From Wrecking Your Back

— With summer comes family gatherings, outdoor sports, outings with friends, vacations and sprucing up the yard. But summer fun can also bring a higher risk of back injuries.

“Too often we start the summer with enthusiasm, only to be sidetracked by back pain,” says Dr. Bradford Butler, a chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions ( “There are important prevention steps you can take to avoid back pain associated with summer activities and help you enjoy the summer as you should.”

Butler looks at five summer activities that cause back injuries and offers ways to prevent them:

•Travel. Sitting for long periods on car rides or in cramped plane seats can do a number on your spine. “My advice is to bring extra support, such as a folded blanket or inflatable pillow for your lower back and neck,” Butler says. “Wear comfortable shoes that have lots of arch and ankle support. Take driving breaks to move your body during a long trip, and adjust your seat so you’re close to the steering wheel.”

•Amusement parks. “People love to experience the rush of riding a rollercoaster, but sadly, their spines pay the price,” Butler says. “All those jerky, jolting movements can injure the neck and back, causing it to become misaligned. I’d advise anyone who already suffers from back or neck pain to steer clear of roller coasters. If you decide to ride, make sure to follow all safety precautions and see your chiropractor for an adjustment after your trip.”

•Gardening and yard work. “Yard work involves a lot of bending, stooping, twisting, squatting, and lifting,” Butler says. “Combine all of those, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a sore back and a misaligned spine. Warm up before an afternoon in the yard. Yoga, or any kind of stretching, and brisk walking are great ways to loosen up. When lifting, utilize your leg muscles, and hold objects close to the body. When mowing, avoid leaning far forward and take breaks.”

•Golf. When swinging a golf club, the lumbar spine undergoes a twisting motion, which can lead to disc herniation or chronic back pain. Butler says there are several ways to reduce the risk of lower back injury: proper stretching, core strengthening and proper swing technique. “Also, it’s best not to carry your golf bag, which can weigh up to 30 or more pounds,” he says. “Use a pull-cart.”

•“Weekend warrior” pursuits. After being glued to an office chair for five days without any physical activity, Butler says it’s unwise on the weekend to engage in high-intensity sports or hard workouts. “Rather than risking back pain from a weekend of overexertion, he says, “get in 30 minutes of moderate exercise or more every day so you’re stronger and better conditioned.”

“A good rule of thumb is to ease into any physical activity you aren’t used to doing— especially after a long winter,” Butler says. “Listen to your body; if you feel pain or weakness, that’s your body telling you that it’s time to take a break. A healthy spine makes for a fun, pain-free summer.”

Dr. Bradford Butler, a chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions is the owner and director of Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy, which has three locations in northern New Jersey. For more information, visit:

More Than Wedding Bells And Babies, Baltimoreans See Homeownership As Sign Of Success

Americans as a whole and Baltimoreans in particular equate homeownership with being a “successful adult,” above getting married or having children, and are willing to do what it takes to make their homeownership goals a reality, according to a new Wells Fargo survey.

The Wells Fargo “How America Views Homeownership” survey was conducted by The Harris Poll from April 17 to April 29, 2019.

Key findings of the poll, conducted among 1,004 U.S. adults 21 and older and an additional 251 adults in the Baltimore metropolitan area, included:

•Seventy-five percent say they equate homeownership with being a “successful adult,” more so than having children (35 percent) or getting married (30 percent), and that homeownership provides a sense of responsibility (79 percent) and security (74 percent).

•More than four in five adults (83 percent) say they believe the benefits of homeownership outweigh any drawbacks.

•While most current homeowners (73 percent) had to make hard sacrifices in order to afford their home, nearly all say buying their home was worth all the sacrifice to save for it (93 percent).

•Nearly all homeowners (96 percent) agree owning a house provides more “bang for your buck” than renting in the long run.

•In addition, seven in 10 Baltimoreans (71 percent) say they would give up something to save for a down payment, including dining out (44 percent), going to events (44 percent) and vacations (36 percent), and 37 percent of Baltimore adults who are saving to buy or renovate a home say they have done work outside their primary job to help pay for it.

“Homeownership is part of the fabric of American life, defining communities and providing a base for families to live out their dreams,” Michael DeVito, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, said in a news release. “As today’s consumers set out to achieve their homeownership goals, they are making smart financial decisions that position them— and the communities they call home— for long-term financial success.”

Baltimoreans cite financial concerns as the top barriers to buying, with nearly one in three (30 percent) identifying paying down consumer debt as the top barrier to buying, along with saving for a down payment (26 percent).

Baltimoreans also seem to have misperceptions about what it takes to increase their opportunity of getting a home loan, citing “perfect” credit (71 percent), being debt-free (74 percent), “having a lot of money in the bank” (62 percent) and having no student debt (45 percent). In fact, more than one in three homeowners (34 percent) say they never thought they would be able to purchase their own home, the survey revealed.

“Financial education represents a tremendous opportunity when it comes to helping more Americans achieve homeownership, and there are a lot of resources available to address the misperceptions that persist about homebuying,” said DeVito. “It is important to save and tend to your credit score, but you don’t need perfect credit, and there are low down payment loan programs designed to give first-time buyers a clearer path to owning a home.”

Baltimoreans also say they would be willing to make trade-offs in order to afford a home.

More than half of adults (52 percent) say they would be willing to buy a smaller house with fewer updates and amenities in order to afford a home.

Most say they would be willing to make logistical trade-offs for the chance to purchase a home, such as moving to a smaller city nearby (70 percent), accepting their second choice of a city or town (61 percent), or moving to a rural area (63 percent).

“The majority of Americans, including Baltimoreans, see homeownership as an investment in their future and as a key piece in achieving goals like financial health and security,” said DeVito. “It is a meaningful step that brings benefits not just to individual families, but also to the neighborhoods and communities they call home.”