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Hometown Heroes -- Reaching Out, From Within

February 2009 By Cheryl Adams
Managing Editor
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PEOPLE ARE innately good. As human beings, we cannot help but to feel compassion and empathy for fellow human beings, especially those in need. In our genetic makeup, we want what is best for mankind.

And, there are some amongst us who seem “wired” to help others. They are dedicated to a cause greater than their own life’s aspirations. They believe in contributing to the bigger picture, society as a whole.

These helpers, these humanitarians, donate their time, effort, money and/or services to assist those who are less fortunate, particularly those who are in dire need. Sometimes a little help goes a long way, and sometimes that help can be life-changing—or life-saving.

We all know people like this. And, we are all blessed (or, at least, inspired) by their good deeds.

Here are the inspirational stories of a few humanitarian printers, who are truly Hometown Heroes.

Second Chances

The Cherry Hill section of Baltimore is known for its mean streets. It is one of the highest crime neighborhoods in the city. Which is why Mayor Sheila Dixon expanded Baltimore’s “Operation Safe Streets” to this area that has more than its share of violence, homicides and shootings. The program involves hiring ex-offenders to reach out to troubled youth and intervene in disputes before they become violent.

Enter Jack Weber, president of Uptown Press, who knows a lot about working with Baltimore organizations that assist soon-to-be-released prisoners, as well as ex-convicts. Not only is Weber involved with Operation Safe Streets, but his real fervor is supporting the Occupational Skills Training Center (OSTC) at the Maryland House of Corrections, where inmates who are about to be released are given trade skills and prepared for life after prison.

As one of the leading and longest-serving supporters of the program, Weber has hired about 40 ex-offenders (over his 20-year involvement with the organization) to work at his Baltimore-based printing company. He believes in “a God of second chances” and admits that he gets a lot of personal satisfaction helping young men and women just released from prison to get back on their feet. Providing them with a job is one way he knows he can make a huge, positive impact on their lives.

Personally hand-picking and interviewing the applicants, Weber makes his selections based on qualifications that include “work skills, ability to communicate, good attitude and friendliness, and an eagerness to succeed or get back into life.”

 

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