December 7, 2021

In March of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, J. Van Story Branch Apartments in Baltimore, Maryland began a crucial partnership with a local ministry, the Franciscan Center.

Because the apartment community serves senior and special needs individuals, CHP Resident Services and Property Management had performed wellness checks on the building’s residents, making sure that the residents were healthy and had what they needed during the pandemic. Rockell Prilliman, Resident Services Coordinator for J. Van Story Branch Apartments, knew that her residents were having a hard time going out and getting much needed food and other necessities. She reached out to the Franciscan Center to see if there was anything it could do to help.

The center, which has been serving the Baltimore community since 1968, began offering daily lunches to the apartment community. Every day, volunteers would work diligently to assemble lunches for the residents. Delivery services were provided by the national guard and sometimes even volunteers on bicycles. Since the start of the lunch delivery program, March 2020 through September 2021, the Franciscan Center has donated $47,880 worth of lunches to the residents.

“This partnership is very important because it aided in decreasing food insecurities and providing necessities to residents who are in need,” said Prilliman. “I am happy that the residents’ needs were met during this trying time. Our residents also have access to more resources through our partnership with the Franciscan Center.”

The residents helped put together a video expressing their gratitude to the ministry for the lunches. One resident said, “Thank you for the lunches and the other benefits you’ve given in helping this community.” Another resident shared that this isn’t the first time the ministry has helped him out. “Sixteen years ago, they helped me put down my down payment so that I could move in here,” he said. “I am very grateful for their help.”

Along with the daily lunches, the Franciscan Center has also offered eviction prevention assistance, produce boxes, and even cooking classes.

“Angela, the Outreach Coordinator for the Franciscan Center, keeps me updated with upcoming events that are happening in the center and encourages residents to participate,” said Prilliman. “The Franciscan Center has been a tremendous asset to the residents of J. Van Story Branch Apartments.”

This was one of several programs to support the health and wellness of the building’s residents. CHP completed renovations at J. Van Story Branch Apartments in December 2020, and the following May, opened a Health and Wellness Suite on the first floor with the support of several community organizations. Resident Services staff are continuing to work with partners to create positive health outcomes for residents in the building. (Learn more about health and housing initiatives at CHP.)