Volunteers Team Up With Students To Make A Match For College Success

A national college readiness program has launched in Baltimore to help underserved students make the grade. iMentor hosted its first meet and greet for the students of the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE) and their mentors November 13, 2019 at the ACCE.

Nearly 80 mentors and students showed up for the event to connect through games, goal setting and conversation.

“We’re bringing in community members and professionals who have experienced the transition from high school to college or high school to adulthood and can invest in one student for a long time,” said Director of Mentor Engagement Shakira Smiler. “I think this is a unique mentoring model that I haven’t seen in other organizations. We get to bridge the gap between people who are passionate about supporting students but didn’t know how they could.”

Students and their mentors review their commitment to each other at the iMentor orientation at the Academy for College and Career Exploration.

Students and their mentors review their commitment to each other at the iMentor orientation at the Academy for College and Career Exploration.

iMentor is a national mentorship program that started in the South Bronx of New York City in 1999 by John Griffin, founder of Blue Ridge Capital and two colleagues Richard Buery and Matt Klein. So far, the program has paired over 33 thousand students with mentors nationwide.

iMentor opened in Baltimore in April. The organization officially launched services with ACCE and Baltimore Design School at the start of this school year. The program pairs high school juniors with a college graduate for three years in hopes of helping students graduate high school and prepare for college. iMentor said it expects 91 percent of their students will earn a college degree.

Amir Sydnor, a junior at ACCE high school from Northeast Baltimore, came to the event with classmates Antoine Anderson and Tyrah Corsey. The students were eager to meet their mentor and start building a relationship.

“I like that they match the people with what you like. I just feel like it’s a good fit, you can make a lot of connections,” said Sydnor.

iMentor said it is the opportunity to connect with positive people that makes the difference.

Sometimes there are not as many mentors at home to give students the extra push to continue especially if they may be dealing with tough circumstances.

“I want to go to college,” said Corsey. “Everyone should have this opportunity. I have issues that I want to work on and I feel as though my mentor is going to help me through that.”

After the program is over there are still opportunities for the relationship to continue. “After three years, students and their mentors are able to continue on formally through our Post-Secondary Program. A large group of mentors and mentees also stay in touch informally,” said Smiler.

Mentors and students share ideas about getting started at the iMentor orientation November 13, 2019 at the Academy for College and Career Exploration.

Mentors and students share ideas about getting started at the iMentor orientation November 13, 2019 at the Academy for College and Career Exploration.

Mentor Sydney Short graduated from Baltimore City College and Johns Hopkins University. “Because of the mentorship I got at City, I very much wanted to give back to the next generation,” said Short. “I have been watching the success of iMentor in other cities and wanted to do my part to see if this could work in Baltimore.”

Mentors at the event expressed their gratitude to iMentor’s diligent background checks.

“The vetting process itself is pretty thorough” said Short. “There’s a whole application talking about our interests, and why you want to mentor. I really appreciate that, it shows that they care about the students success.”

2019 Winner Of Ernest J. Gaines Award For Literary Excellence Announced

— Houston writer Bryan Washington’s debut book, “Lot,” a collection of short stories, has been named winner of the 2019 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

The award will be presented to Washington on January 30, 2020 at the Manship Theatre at the Shaw Center for the Arts in downtown Baton Rouge. The ceremony is free and open to the public, although reservations are requested at gainesaward@braf.org.

Now in its 13th year, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is a nationally acclaimed $15,000 prize given annually by Baton Rouge Area Foundation donors to recognize outstanding work from promising African-American fiction writers, while honoring the late Louisiana native Ernest Gaines’ extraordinary contribution to the literary world.

Gaines died November 5, 2019 at his home in Oscar, La., at the age of 86.

“Lot” is set in the city of Houston, particularly its East End. The narrator is a young man who often doesn’t feel at home in his hometown and keenly watches others as they desperately struggle or thrive.

Washington’s fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Boston Review, and other publications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston and a master’s in creative writing from the University of New Orleans. He is a lecturer at Rice University.

A national panel of judges selects the book award winner. Judges for the 2019 contest are Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize winner for his 2003 novel, “The Known World”; Anthony Grooms, a critically acclaimed author and creative writing professor at Kennesaw State University; renowned author Elizabeth Nunez, professor of English at Hunter College-City University of New York; Francine Prose, author of more than 20 books, including “Blue Angel,” a nominee for the 2000 National Book Award; and Patricia Towers, former features editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and a founding editor of Vanity Fair magazine.

Previous winners of the Ernest J. Gaines award include Jamel Brinkley for “A Lucky Man,” Crystal Wilkinson for “Birds of Opulence,” T. Geronimo Johnson for “Welcome to Braggsville,” Attica Locke for “The Cutting Season,” Stephanie Powell Watts for “We Are Taking Only What We Need” and Dinaw Mengestu for “How to Read the Air.”

Literary legend Ernest Gaines was a native of Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish, which served as the backdrop in many of his novels. He received a

National Medal of Arts (2013), a MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Grant, and the National Humanities Medal among numerous other awards. He was a member of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His critically acclaimed novel “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” was adapted into a made-for-TV movie that won nine Emmy awards. His 1993 novel “A Lesson Before Dying” won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Becoming Numb To Mass Shootings

Each time we experience a mass shooting, we repeat the pattern— a point I have made in previous columns. Shock, grief, prayer, throwing up our hands, and proponents of unlimited gun ownership arguing that this is not the time to discuss sensible gun control; instead we should restrict ourselves to prayer.

And then nothing ever happens. Except for one thing. We become increasingly numb to the impact of gun violence, which I have come to conclude, right-wing gun fanatics wish to encourage. When we no longer see mass or just random killings as outrageous and uncivilized, the demand for sensible gun regulations diminishes in importance. Gun fanatics would like us to accept that this violence will happen and that the best that we can do is to further arm US society, e.g., arm teachers in schools.

There is no easy way to avoid becoming numb to mass shootings and random violence.

When you read about it or hear about it or witness it nearly every day and you conclude that it will not change, your mind searches for safety. That “safety” plays itself out in our becoming less shocked and—to be blunt—more accepting of the reality that our children may get killed at school or that our family or friends may get shot at a parking lot or by an outraged former employee at any number of facilities. The mind says to us that we cannot exist on a permanent level of tension and anxiety.

Except, we do harbor that tension and anxiety. It’s just that we may not display it. Rather, it eats away at us in our insides.

Is there any way around this, in addition to legislation? Yes. First and foremost, it necessitates community organizing and community organization. As simplistic as it may sound, our youth need to be forced to confront the finality of death. Death is not an action video game. Nor should it be the immediate recourse when someone feels emotionally injured. Thus, the victims—including families—of gun violence need to be at the center of discussions about the ramifications of gun violence.

A second route is the establishment of legitimate gun clubs. This may sound strange but hear me out, and this is especially important in African American communities. Guns are not going away so, there needs to be training and discipline associated with the use of fire arms. Just as with martial arts, the younger members of our communities must understand when, where and how to utilize firearms, and when not to.

Platitudes and prayer are nearly meaningless when one is up against a combination of a multi-million-dollar gun industry linked directly with a fanatical, right wing movement opposed to sensible gun ownership. At the end of the day, the barbarians must be out organized.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of globalafricanworker.com and the former president of TransAfrica Forum.

Clifton Morgan Helps Fulfill Dreams At Year Up Baltimore

Clifton Morgan has worked at Year Up Baltimore for nearly a decade, and one of the primary challenges he says is getting people to believe is that the program is authentic.

“People think it’s a scam. They often think it’s just too good to be true,” Morgan, the site director for Year Up Baltimore said.

Because much is offered— and consequently, much is expected— Morgan says he understands the initial skepticism.

“So, you’re telling me that I get to go to school, and I’ll be taken care of? That’s what I hear in addition to, ‘you’re going to give me a stipend to come and train, and learn how to work? You’re going to train me, and then you’re going to send me on an internship?”

Year Up counts as a college and career development program for low to moderate-income students between the ages of 18 to 24.

The students earn money while they learn, and officials say that the training they receive at Year Up is imperative because an estimated 12 million jobs requiring candidates with post-secondary education will go unfilled in the next decade.

Morgan and others at Year Up say to solve that dilemma, they must connect young and underserved individuals with opportunities to work for companies who need their talents.

Year Up officials speak with companies to better understand the skills needed and participants spend six months in a classroom learning the hard skills sought by employers and the soft skills successful team members need.

Students then intern for six months with a Year Up partner company, applying their skills while gaining critical work experience. When they graduate from the program, students are then prepared to embark on a career that pays life-sustaining wages.

“We support our students with coaches and mentors as well as a student services support team. For example, we now do soft skills training, and we hold high expectations for the contractors we work with,” Morgan said. “We do deliver on the internship opportunities in the professional environment and allow our students to gain the skills necessary to move into other full time opportunities, if there isn’t one available.”

Year Up recruits two classes of 120 students per class each year, which begin in January and end in August.

The students spend six months in a learning and development phase at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC). The next six months are spent working as an intern in one of Year Up’s dozens of sponsors who are associated with the program.

Approximately 83 percent of students who complete the program are employed, and earn about $17 per hour. It’s all more reason for Morgan to remain excited about Year Up.

“It’s about the light bulb moments that I have when I see some of our young adults,” said Morgan, who grow up in Chicago and later graduated from Hampton University in Virginia.

The married father of two recalled his upbringing and contrasted it with many of his Year Up students.

“I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago, and I’ve been in Maryland for the last 13 years; and the thing that I think is interesting is that people believe no matter where you go— our young adults are the same. But, as a young kid in Chicago, I was looking for an opportunity for a better life,” Morgan said. “Fortunately for me, I was able to go to school and that worked out. And here I am. But the thing that I say to that young man who left Chicago is that he really thought he had a clear plan, an idea of what his life was going to look like. But, I’m majoring in something that I’ve never worked in. But I found the interest that I have in working with young adults in education in higher education.

“And I’m able to do that every day; and help our young adults figure out how to navigate situations that sometimes can be difficult.

“To see the light bulbs go off for somebody who struggled and kind of pulled themselves together, remain focused and display that grit and then achieve an internship and get hired in that job or even have multiple offers for different job opportunities at the end of the program…those are the things that get me going.”

For more information or to apply to participate in the Year Up program, visit www.yearup.org/Baltimore or call 410-919-9530.

GYMGUYZ Want To Help Thanksgiving Feasters Work The Calories Off

Thanksgiving is upon us and, for many it’s a holiday that reminds folks to be thankful for all of the delicious things they love to eat. It’s also synonymous with feasting, and for those counting, the average Turkey Day dinner will cost an average of 4,000 calories.

“We want people to enjoy Thanksgiving, so we explain to clients that exercising consistently during the holidays will help keep off those dreaded holiday pounds,” said Aaron Behrens, owner and president of GYMGUYZ, a mobile personal training service that brings state-of-the-art fitness equipment and expert coaches to their customers’ doors.

GYMGUYZ is considered tops in personal home training. The company provides convenient, customized, and creative workouts wherever an individual may live.

Founded in 2008, the mobile brand utilizes a fleet of franchise vans that bring more than 365 pieces of state-of-the-art fitness equipment and expert coaches to their customers’ doors to drive accountability and provide tailored workouts.

Since it began franchising in 2014, the brand’s growth has reportedly exploded 1,700 percent with nearly 200 locations internationally, including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

“The best way to maintain consistency is by having your GYMGUYZ personal trainer visit your home at a time that works for you to make sure you stay on track,” Behrens said.

The most important thing is to stay active, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk, according to Behrens.

“Find some type of activity that you enjoy or that you can do with a friend or spouse. For example, group training is a great way to have fun and stay healthy with friends,” he said.

Behrens started with GYMGUYZ in 2016 because of the high demand for personal home training.

“Being in the fitness industry for over 20 years, and a partner in a successful chain of health clubs in Philadelphia has allowed me to see how the industry has evolved. I love the concept of bringing trainers directly to clients,” he said.

One of the advantages GYMGUYZ presents its clients is they don’t have to wait in line like they may have to at conventional gyms. They also don’t have to wipe someone else’s sweat off the equipment.

The certified personal trainers who work at GYMGUZ are thoroughly vetted and travel in trademarked GYMGUYZ vehicles loaded with workout equipment and gear.

The trainers primarily focus on cardio and strength workouts. On their first visit, they offer a free assessment, including a questionnaire to find out their client’s goals.

“The response so far is that our clients love that we deliver in-home personal trainers right to their door for customized one-on-one or group workouts in the privacy of their home, backyard or anywhere they choose that’s convenient for their schedule,” Behrens said.

The biggest challenges for many who work out are consistency, making time and not knowing what to do to see tangible results, Behrens added.

He says holidays, especially Thanksgiving, can be challenging for those counting calories.

“We want people to enjoy Thanksgiving, so keep moving. As the saying goes, ‘Use it or lose it.’ You need to keep your body moving,” he said.

For more information, visit: www.gymguyz.com.

IRS Urges Families, Teens To Make Online Safety A Priority

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) urges families and teens to stay vigilant in protecting personal information while connected to the Internet. Although the IRS is making huge strides in fighting identity theft and thwarting fraudulent tax returns, help is needed.

During National Work and Family Month, IRS is asking parents and families to be mindful of all the pitfalls that can be found by sharing devices at home, shopping online and through navigating various social media platforms. Often, those who are less experienced can put themselves and others at risk by leaving an unnecessary trail of personal information for fraudsters.

The IRS has joined with representatives of the software industry, tax preparation firms, payroll and tax financial product processors and state tax administrators to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation’s taxpayers. This group, the Security Summit, has found methods to help reduce fraudulent tax returns entering tax-processing systems.

Here are a few common-sense suggestions that can make a difference for children, teens and those who are less experienced:

•Remind them why security is important. People of all ages should not reveal too much information about themselves. Keeping data secure and only providing what is necessary minimizes online exposure to scammers and criminals. Birthdates, addresses, age and especially Social Security numbers are among things that should not be shared freely.

•Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on computers. Use strong, unique passwords for each account. Be sure all family members have comprehensive protection especially if devices are being shared.

•Teach them to recognize and avoid scams. Phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as IRS or from legitimate organizations pose risks. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.

•Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card. Keep it at home. Be sure any financial records are secure. Advise children and teens to shop at reputable online retailers. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

•Teach them about public Wi-Fi networks. Connection to Wi-Fi in a mall or coffee shop is convenient but it may not be safe. Hackers and cybercriminals can easily intercept personal information. Always use a virtual private network when connecting to public Wi-Fi

The Key To Ending The HIV Epidemic: HIV Testing And Prevention

Nearly 40 years after the first diagnosis of AIDS in the United States, which was later found to be caused by HIV, HIV and AIDS remain misunderstood. But two facts remain certain— the best way to stop the spread of HIV and prevent progression to AIDS is for everyone to be tested, and for those living with HIV to take HIV medications.

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus— along with partners the THRIVE program and JACQUES Initiative of the Institute of Human Virology— will host the Red Ribbon Route on December 2, 2019.

The Red Ribbon Route is an opportunity for the community to get free HIV testing, education, prevention tips, and connection to HIV care, at three locations in Baltimore City.

Look for the UMMC Community Education van with the red ribbon at these locations:

—30 West North Avenue

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

—Community Health Education

Center, University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, Linden

Avenue 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.

—JACQUES Initiative Journey

Center, 880 Park Avenue, Suite 300

10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

If you are living with HIV and are not currently in care, ask for the ‘Red Carpet’ treatment at any of the screening locations, to get re-connected to care. Insurance is not required for this event, and results are completely confidential.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s ability to fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and illnesses. It is spread by contact with certain body fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom), or through sharing supplies for injection drug use. It cannot be spread by kissing, hugging or touching.

AIDS is the late stage of untreated HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged by HIV. If people are tested routinely, and HIV infection is diagnosed and treated early in the disease process, AIDS will not develop. If AIDS does develop, it can still be treated so that people’s immune system can become strong again.

The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists. So, once you have HIV, you have it for life. However, by taking HIV medicine as prescribed, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives.

For people who did not have HIV but are at higher than average risk, there are also effective methods to prevent them from getting HIV through sex or drug use, including PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is a way for people who are HIV negative but at high risk to prevent HIV infection, by taking an HIV pill every day. PEP means taking HIV medication to prevent HIV infection very soon after being exposed to HIV. Learn more at PrEPMaryland.org.

How Do I Know If I Have HIV?

Most people with HIV will not have any symptoms! The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. And testing is simple. You can ask your health care provider for an HIV test, or get tested for free at multiple locations throughout the city.

Sarah Schmalzle, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Associate Program Director, Infectious Disease Fellowship, University of Maryland School of Medicine; and, Medical Director, THRIVE program of the Institute of Human Virology at the University Of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.

Rambling Rose: Positive Things About Positive People In The Entertainment Lane

Hello everyone! How are you? Oh, I am well thank you for asking. Well, this week I want to talk to you about a couple of things I think are important to you and the community as far as life in the local entertainment world.

First, I want to say, you just missed my birthday on Wednesday, November 27th. I am 75 years old— thank you! I feel like 35 years old— I’m telling a lie! There is no way in the hell this body feels like 35 years old. But I still feel truly blessed to have made it this far and still able to do my thing which I truly enjoy.

Terry Johnson, Baltimore’s own and member of the internationally known “Flamingos” vocal group.

Terry Johnson grew up on Whatcoat Street in Sandtown, West Baltimore. According to Milton Dugger, “Terry was in the audience at the Royal Theatre when he saw a sort of “halo” appear around this group while they were performing on stage on Christmas. Terry took it as a sign that he should join this gro

Terry Johnson who grew up on Whatcoat Street in Sandtown/Winchester in Baltimore is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Flamingos will be performing with them at Milton Dugger’s Birthday Party on Saturday, November 30th. For more information, call 410-938-8411.

Terry Johnson who grew up on Whatcoat Street in Sandtown/Winchester in Baltimore is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Flamingos will be performing with them at Milton Dugger’s Birthday Party on Saturday, November 30th. For more information, call 410-938-8411.

up, and as fate had it,” says Dugger, “within a year he was a member.”

Terry Johnson became the vocal arranger and guitarist for the Flamingos, writing songs and arranging vocal parts. His best known vocal arrangement is the groups hit song, “I Only Have Eyes for You” from the group’s 1959 album “Flamingo Seranade.” Johnson is a member of the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame”. He is now 80 years old and sounds like he’s 18, and I can witness that because I saw him perform on stage last year. I was pleasantly surprised and you will be too if you join me and Milton Dugger as we celebrate our birthday, that’s right I said our birthday, my birthday is Wednesday, November 27th and Milton Dugger’s is November 30th. So let’s get together and hang out and bring your own bottle of whatever, bring your picnic basket of food and your friends to St. Mary’s Hall, 5500 York Road on Saturday, November 30. For more information, call Milton at 410-938-8411 and we will see you there.

Derrick Amin (Ali), renowned pianist, 69 years old host a weekly gathering of local musicians, writers, and performing artists every Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. at the Randallstown Community Center 3505 Resource Drive in Randallstown. It is free and open to the public. Call 410-696-8974.

Derrick Amin (Ali), renowned pianist, 69 years old host a weekly gathering of local musicians, writers, and performing artists every Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. at the Randallstown Community Center 3505 Resource Drive in Randallstown. It is free and open to the public. Call 410-696-8974.

The Baltimore Chamber Jazz Society has been host to one of Baltimore’s premier jazz concert series for 28 years. They have a rich history of bringing the world’s finest jazz artists to the region for memorable performances in an intimate setting. Continuing its more than quarter-century tradition of bringing award-winning jazz musicians to the city. They will launch their 2019-2020 season with a concert by the Steve Davis Correlations Sextet on Sunday, December 1, 2019 at 5 p.m. at the Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive in Baltimore.

Look, I know many of my readers love themselves some good lay-back jazz, me I can do without the “Straight ahead” jazz, it just puts me to sleep, but I love me some Be-bop jazz, like Jimmy McGriff or some Swing Jazz or the “Bluezzie jazz”. When I hear a musician play some of that kind of jazz, you have to drag me out of the room. Anyway, Steve Davis Sextet consists of trombone ace and leading recording artist Davis, who brings a multi-generational band of top-tier musicians to perform with him such as Joshua Bruneau on trumpet/flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery on tenor sax; Dezron Douglas on bass; Jonathan Barer on drums; and Xavier Davis on piano. For more information, call 410-385-5888.

Baxter “Peanut” Rudolph Jones, well known in his circle as well as the brother of the late “Liddy” Jones passed away quietly in his sleep from a massive heart-attack on November 18, 2019. The viewing will be held at Howell Funeral Home located at 4600 Liberty Heights on Sunday, December 1, 2019 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Funeral Services takes place at  Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church located at 3100 Walbrook Avenue on Monday, December 2, 2019 with the wake is 10 a.m. and the funeral at 10:30 a.m.

Baxter “Peanut” Rudolph Jones, well known in his circle as well as the brother of the late “Liddy” Jones passed away quietly in his sleep from a massive heart-attack on November 18, 2019. The viewing will be held at Howell Funeral Home located at 4600 Liberty Heights on Sunday, December 1, 2019 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Funeral Services takes place at Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church located at 3100 Walbrook Avenue on Monday, December 2, 2019 with the wake is 10 a.m. and the funeral at 10:30 a.m.

Look out ladies and gentlemen; I am out of space, terrible situation!! But remember if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at: rosapryor@aol.com. UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!” NOVEMBER 27TH. Send all correspondence to 214 Conewood Avenue, Reisterstown, Maryland 21136.

Report Reveals 35 Million Americans Still Have 2018 Holiday Debt

Black Friday, the knockdown, drag-out, mother-of-all-shopping-days, and the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season is here.

With consumers expected to dig deep into their wallets and spend as much as $1.1 trillion this holiday season, the time is now for gift buying, deals, savings and debt— lots of debt.

A new report from the District of Columbia-based personal finance website WalletHub, has revealed that 35 million Americans still have credit card debt from last holiday season, and nearly one-third of consumers will spend less this year than in 2018. The study also found that 52 percent of people don’t think Black Friday sales are anything special including 54 percent of women; 49 percent of men; 64 percent of those 59 years-old and older; and 37 percent of individuals between 18 and 29.

The study noted that one in five Americans will owe holiday credit card debt into at least February.

While 58 percent will pay for holiday purchases made by credit card in full by the due date, 23 percent said they will have a holiday balance after January. Just 19 percent said they would pay off their holiday purchases in full by New Year’s Day.

As a side note, Americans also noted what they would pay extra for this holiday season just to make something go away.

Seventy-five million Americans said they would pay extra for no tweets this holiday season from President Donald Trump; 49 percent said they’d pay extra just for peace and quiet; and 32 percent said they’d pay additional for faster delivery of products and services.

While debt is the primary focus of the study, experts noted that credit cards can be confusing, perhaps even dangerous if used irresponsibly.

WalletHub experts say credit cards can also be the ticket to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars in savings, thanks to their credit-building capabilities, rewards and 0 percent financing deals.

The study noted several questions for consumers to consider, including should everyone have at least one credit card? Are credit cards safer now than before the Great Recession? Are consumers good at picking credit cards? What are the biggest pitfalls?

“Yes, everyone should have at least one credit card simply because it is the easiest method of establishing and maintaining credit,” said WalletHub Expert James Estes, a Professor of Finance at California State University San Bernardino. “In addition, I believe that a second credit card, with the lowest fees, should be kept as an emergency fund substitute. Often when an emergency occurs, it is not the best time to liquidate assets, and at current interest rates, one would lose money in light of inflation.

“A credit card for emergencies would allow a 30 day window to pay off its use with invested funds, possibly mitigating the inopportune time to sell in need of immediate funds.”

Harold Hartmann, a WalletHub expert and assistant professor of Accounting at the Eastern Connecticut State University, said credit cards are safer now than they were prior to the Great Recession.

“But due to the amount of data that is transferred and the sophistication of hackers no one is completely safe at all,” Hartmann said. “The chip technology is a good addition to security for credit cards and I also think the credit card are proactive in trying to head of fraudulent charges. My wife had her card declined the other day; she tried it again and it [was] declined again.

“She called the card company and they had flagged her card for a suspicious transaction. That transaction turned out to be our weekly breakfast spot and it was inconvenient, but the take is they are trying to get it right. So, safer now yes; safe— not so much.”

Family background, familial behavior pattern, personality, and financial education are all factors in knowing whether a consumer is good at picking the right credit cards, said Nan Li, a WalletHub expert and associate professor of Business and Economics at California University of Pennsylvania.

Li noted some of the pitfalls.

“The biggest pitfall is deceiving yourself by thinking you can pay the credit card bill later when you can’t pay it off now,” LI said. “People should use credit card the same way as they use their debit card, deeming it as their own money, never overspending.”

To view the WalletHub survey, visit their website.

Thirty-Two Children In Baltimore Celebrate ‘Forever’ Families On National Adoption Day

If you told 56-year-old Belair-Edison resident Elladonna Lanier two years ago that she was going to be a parent, she would have said it was never going to happen. Fast forward to last weekend, she is now officially the proud mother of two brothers, Mitchell, who is five-years-old, and Messiah who is two-years-old.

“This is the greatest thing that has happened to me,” said Lanier. “I am now on a journey with two amazing boys who show me every day what unconditional love means.”

Lanier was just one of a number of families who gathered at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse to celebrate the finalization of their adoption process during the Bar Association of Baltimore City’s National Adoption Day November 23, 2019.

Hundreds attend a fun-filled reception for newly adopted children at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse.

Hundreds attend a fun-filled reception for newly adopted children at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse.

Lanier started the process in 2017 when she took the kids into her home when a family member could no longer care for the boys. “I said to myself, I could either step in, or risk these babies going into foster care and being split up. It was an easy choice for me,” said Lanier.

This is the 19th year the Bar Association of Baltimore City has partnered with the Department of Social Services to salute new families. This year 32 children between the ages of one and 14 found new permanent homes.

“We’re trying to change the dynamics for children, so it really starts at the home,” said event organizer Ashley Ward. “If we can make their home permanent, and give them that stability, we’re helping one child at a time have a better future, by starting with a stable family.”

The Bar Association holds the event each year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The purpose is to not only celebrate the finalization of adoptions that day, but to also raise awareness that more than 100,000 children nationally are in foster care waiting to find a family to call their own. According to the Baltimore City’s Department of Social Services there are nearly 1,700 children in the foster system in Baltimore.

Dawnyell Harris just finalized a three-year adoption process with her 4-year-old daughter Sage. “There are a few hiccups. The system is not perfect. But at the end of the day it’s about the kids,” said Harris. “All they want are love, hugs, kisses, and attention and that’s what we try to give them.”

L-r:  Dawnyell Harris stands proudly with her daugters 4-year-old Sage and 14-year-old Kristyana. Sage officialy became a member of the family during the National Adoption Day ceremony at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse  November 23, 2019

Imany Dye

L-r: Dawnyell Harris stands proudly with her daugters 4-year-old Sage and 14-year-old Kristyana. Sage officialy became a member of the family during the National Adoption Day ceremony at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse November 23, 2019

Harris has adopted before. Her 14-year-old daughter Kristyana was once in foster care before Harris officially made her part of the family ten years ago. “It makes me feel like there’s humanity in this world because this world has been very negative lately,” said Kristyana Harris.

“This gives me a sense of hope that there are people that love other people, blood or not, and I think it’s just beautiful.” Harris said she plans to give the same love and support to her new little sister Sage.

Teri Alston, program manager for adoption and guardianship for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, said adoptions do more than just benefit an individual family. Alston has been a social worker for 23 years, and has witnessed the unfortunate outcomes of children who grow up without families. “Our hope is with each family, they create and help develop a productive citizen who will give back to the city,” said Alston.

During the adoption ceremony, court judges called each family to stand before them to make the process official. Each child was welcomed to his or her “forever” family.

L-r: Lisa Jordan, Kendall Jordan and Joe Jordan are now officially a family following Kendall's apoption during the National Adoption Day ceremony at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse November 23, 2019.

L-r: Lisa Jordan, Kendall Jordan and Joe Jordan are now officially a family following Kendall’s apoption during the National Adoption Day ceremony at The Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse November 23, 2019.

Joe and Lisa Jordan finalized the adoption of their daughter Kendall. Having both worked for the state, they saw the countless children who were lost to the system, and wanted to adopt as a way to give back. After nearly three years, the family was able to finalize the process. Kendall left the courthouse with a new last name and an official family.

“There are so many kids in need of love and attention, and it doesn’t have to come from your birth parent to get that,” Harris said.

Lanier said she knows, like all parents, there will be some growing pains, trying to raise a new family, but she said she has a lot of support from friends and her church family who have been “wonderful.”