Local Businessman Enters 2020 Baltimore City Mayoral Race

“I am honored and delighted to announce that after careful consideration with an exploratory committee and residents, I am entering Baltimore’s 2020 Mayoral race,” Rikki Vaughn said.

Vaughn says that Baltimore is in need of aggressive and immediate actions to turn the city around.

“Baltimore does not need this on-going, repetitive leadership, it needs up-to-date leadership. We need a real vision, real direction, and real action to make our City better for all. Each campaign cycle, we are promised positive change while only settling for more of the same. It is now time to empower the people of Baltimore to restore our dignity, our hope, our collective family,” Vaughn said.

Born and raised in Baltimore City, Vaughn was a minimum wage worker at McDonald’s, a high school dropout at 16, and father at the age of 17.

“Today I am the CEO of my own company, operating national brand restaurants in eight states across the nation. I am a Magna Cum Laude graduate from a HBCU, honors graduate with my MBA, and now, a candidate for PhD,” Vaughn explained. “As you can see, I did not let how I entered the race determine how I was going to finish it. It is the values of Baltimore that propelled me to my success and my commitment to serving.”

Vaughn didn’t like that the President of the United States tweeted about Baltimore.

“He called our city, rat and rodent infested. He called it disgusting. He absolutely did his best to embarrass us, and our leadership. However, I know Baltimore is so much more. The greatest city in America deserves more respect, more credibility and more dignity on a national level,” Vaughn said.

Baltimore City is a crucial and significant part of the American legacy and heritage, according to Vaughn.

“For me, I am proud of Baltimore’s contribution to the nation and to the world. But I know we can do better. Aim for higher heights,” said Vaughn who as a Democratic candidate vows to uphold Baltimore’s values and maintain its integrity.

“I will listen and represent all. We are one family, united by our beautiful city. We succeed when we work together and understand that one person’s success is the success of us all. If I can turn my life around, with the help of God, family, and community, there is no limit to what our city can accomplish when we understand that our best days are ahead of us. The time for the same leadership, the same approaches, and the same mottos is over. If we did it before, we will do it again,” Vaughn said. “My platform will be completely based on creating a better Baltimore that uplifts us all, empowers us all, and reinstates the dignity that we deserve. I ask that you humbly join me on my mission to serve Baltimore, as it has served me. I know that Baltimore is great. It is time that we remind the world of that greatness. I am running to give Baltimore City what it deserves— respect, love and peace.”

Colgate Bus to provide free dental services to Baltimore children

— The number one chronic childhood illness in Baltimore City is tooth decay, which mainly affects minority and poor children. Two out of five children in the city have gum disease or decaying teeth by the time they are in school. Children with untreated tooth decay not only experience pain and infections but their ability to eat, speak, learn and play is also affected.

Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Future has been involved in the Baltimore city school curriculum for 15 years. Starting in the spring of 2015, a dedicated Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Mobile dental van will be available to children that don’t have health insurance or are under insured. The main goal of the Colgate van is to prevent dental problems before they start.

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner and Dr. Marsha Butler, Vice President of Global Oral Health and Professional Relations of Colgate Palmolive Company have partnered to bring the dental disease prevention bus to Baltimore City.

This April, more than 200 students at Henderson-Hopkins partnership school got the privilege to view the new mobile van and receive services including free dental screening and oral health education.

Students not only enjoyed the free dental services provided by the mobile Colgate van, but they had the opportunity to meet the Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city officials.

“We want all Baltimore children to have the best prospects for success in life. With this new mobile dental van specifically dedicated to the Baltimore area, thousands of children and their families will receive the tools they need to make dental health a priority,” Rawlings-Blake said.

In addition to games and activities, the children got to dance to tunes played by 13-year-old female DJ, DJ Beauty & The Beatz. The young DJ played popular hip hop as well as a song called ‘Purely Whites’ sang by sisters from Baltimore named Jordan and Jayla Waters. The song talks about perfect white teeth.

For more information about the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program, visit www.ColgateBSBF.com.

College students use spring break to volunteer, give back

Spring break is usually a time when college students go home to visit their families, work to save money or most likely party! It’s not often that you hear about young college students donating their spring break to give back to less fortunate communities.

Student United Way Worldwide is a group that offers students from a variety of universities a month long alternative spring break program which gives the young adults the chance to help rebuild neighborhoods, schools, houses, help with family stability and fundraise.

Starting in 2006, the year after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Student United Way Worldwide sent 100 student volunteers from each state to do long term recovery throughout Mississippi and Alabama. Since then Student United Way Worldwide has been working with Student United Ways in different states like Michigan and Maryland to host alternative spring breaks for students. This spring break in Maryland set the record for the largest amount of volunteers in the nation to date.

Amanda Townsend, a junior at Penn State University, is a site director for the Penn State team. A major in criminology, Townsend has been working with Student United Way since her freshman year. Townsend explains that she wanted to go into the communities where criminals come from so she can see things from their perspective. “I would like to know more about why they commit the crimes they do, so, I can relate to them,” Townsend says. She wants to work within the system to change the system. She wants to reintegrate them back into society rather than condemn them and lock them behind bars. Learning a new perspective makes Townsend feel inspired.

Ben Rowles, is a sophomore at Penn State studying English. Rowles wants to be an English teacher after he graduates from college. When asked why he is volunteering his spring break to give back to society, he says he’d rather be doing something meaningful instead of going home and indulging in relaxation.

Student United Way Worldwide is a program that helps less fortunate communities and gives college students a chance to give back.

WO-BE-CO celebrates 20th anniversary

— Women Behind the Community, Inc. (WO-BE-CO ) is a civic and community organization made up of women who assist Baltimoreans with cultural activities, voter registration, and education. For the past 20 years WOBECO has been donating African American books to grade schools throughout Baltimore city. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the group donating books.

With city schools experiencing a severe fiscal crisis and a fluctuating deficit throughout the years, there are times when public schools don’t always have the money to pay teachers or get resources that will benefit the students.

Unfortunately, over half of the schools in inner cities don’t have age-appropriate books, if any at all, for their students.

“With most of the members of WO-BE-CO being educators, this is something that means a lot to this group of women. A large portion of the inner city schools cannot afford books so they really appreciate them,” according to WO-BE-CO member Barbra Lee.

Not only does WO-BE-CO donate books, they also mentor fourth grade girls. They help them with reading and school assignments. WO-BE-CO builds relationships with the girls and provides extra activities for students.

They have worked with Yorkwood Elementary; Inner Harbor East Academy; Grove Park Elementary; Gwynn Falls Elementary; Franklin Square Elementary; Bethel Christian School; Walbrook Senior High; Edgecombe Circle Elementary; Cross Country Elementary; Furman Templeton Elementary; Robert Coleman Elementary; and most recently, Edgewood Elementary.

The ladies of WOBECO celebrated their 20th anniversary with the fourth and fifth grade girls of Edgewood Elementary, as well as author and story-teller Janice Curtis Greene. The students were so excited to enter into the library to see their mentors. With technology booming at a rapid pace, reading hard-copy books seems to be going extinct, but the young girls love reading.

When the library doors opened, the young girls ran into the room ready for the festivities. Small voices filled the room asking, “Where’s Ms. Greene?” and “When is story-time?” They could barely wait! It was amazing to see how enticed the students were to read and hear stories.

While the children munched on their snacks, author Janice Curtis Greene came out and dramatically captured the girl’s attention with her exciting voice and interesting African instruments. The students’ eyes were glued to her— it was amazing!

After story-time, the students took the opportunity to ask questions. So many girls had questions for the author that they had to cut it short because they couldn’t get to everybody. At the end, the young ladies thanked Janice Curtis Greene for her time and they all received autographed books from the author.