Approximately 153,000 people with disabilities reside in Baltimore County, but Baltimore County offers only 90 housing units specifically designed for people with disabilities. This means the majority of people with disabilities in Baltimore are living in housing that is not fully accessible or functional. The IMAGE Center of Maryland provides a solution.
The IMAGE Center, which stands for Independent Marylanders Achieving Growth Through Empowerment, is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Marylander’s with disabilities gain independence and live self sufficiently. The organization is dedicated to the creating a learning and thinking environment to challenge popular concepts of what people with disabilities can do. Located in Towson, the center offers free independent living skills programs, including, money management, travel training, and cooking courses, as well as peer mentoring. Besides offering skills training the center also assists individuals with disabilities in understanding and exercising their civil rights regarding government and other service providers. All these opportunities simultaneously help build self esteem and offer a social outlet.
Since its start in 2011, the IMAGE Center has helped hundreds of people with disabilities in Baltimore gain independence.
On April 25 the IMAGE Center hosted a grand opening event to celebrate their new handicap accessible facilities. The event, “IMAGE Center’s A Taste and Toast to Independence,” raised over $2,400. This money will be used to support the new facilities and expand the center’s services. Local vendors, such as Bahama Breeze, Haute Blow Dry Bar, Fresh Market and others, graciously donated time, gifts, and services.
Goucher College seniors Hannah Malloy, Cat Gepner, and Katherine Dykman worked with the IMAGE Center of Maryland to help them organize the event as part of their Advanced Public Relations course. This event gave them the perfect opportunity to get hands-on experience in the event planning process. They researched local business and then worked one-on-one with store managers to get donations of services and goods. They created invitations, media advisories, press releases, and a video package for the event.
“I teared up a bit Wednesday night when I was thinking about what [the students] and all of the staff did,” Mike Bullis, from the IMAGE Center, said. “[The students] really were key to our event — doing everything [they] said [they] would, and, doing it very well.”
“It was a great experience getting to work with the IMAGE Center and I can’t thank Goucher enough for connecting us with such an inspiring organization,” Dykman said.
The IMAGE Center often seeks out enthusiastic college students to help volunteer or intern with them. To get involved with IMAGE, liking them on Facebook: facebook.com/theimagecenter.