In 1995, St. Ambrose received a challenge grant from the Weinberg Foundation to create an endowment for the agency. More than 250 individuals, families, and foundations rose to Weinberg’s challenge and contributed what they could to the campaign. The widespread community support helped St. Ambrose reach our goal and demonstrated a far reaching commitment to support the agency’s future in the city. Twenty-two years later, this gift is still making an impact in Baltimore.
In 2006, frustrated with the yellow “WE BUY HOUSES” signs that were beginning to pop up around the city, St. Ambrose created counter ads and posters to advertise our foreclosure prevention counseling services. We placed these ads on public transportation and in the newspapers to let the community know that we were ready to help struggling homeowners fight to keep their homes.
As the foreclosure crisis took a hold of our city, St. Ambrose foreclosure prevention counselors began serving over 1,000 people a year. In 2007, St. Ambrose served 1,031 families and individuals facing foreclosure and our follow up research 3 years later showed that 70% of households served were either still in their homes or were able to sell their home for more than they paid!
St. Ambrose founder Vinnie Quayle discusses how St. Ambrose got it’s start. “We’re going to teach individual families how to buy houses and how to improve their housing situation and we’re going to [work] on the larger issues with the institutions that could affect the real change.”
The story of the founding of St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center is woven throughout with the perspectives of the many, many individuals whose passion and dedication created and sustained the organization. The thread you choose to follow will reveal varied nuances of motivation, vision, action and reaction. It is very much a story of the activism of the 60’s and it is grounded in community organizing with much of its early work fueled by the Civil Rights Movement. It is a story of entrepreneurial thinking applied to ‘big picture’ problems and the evolution of an organization that seems to constantly be reinventing itself and its place in our City. I hope that you will join us as we weave a powerful set of stories over the next 50 weeks and maybe be inspired to add your own story to ours.
I have only worked at St. Ambrose for 11 years, not a long time compared to some who have 20, 25, 28 years of stories but… this is my St. Ambrose story: I knew absolutely nothing about housing issues when I came to work at St. Ambrose in 2006. The idea that anyone was homeless in the United States baffled me and I wanted to be a part of an organization that was seeking a solution to that problem. When I interviewed with Vinnie Quayle for the fundraising position here, he had a poster on his wall that said “the temple stands unfinished until ALL are housed in dignity.” To this day, that quote accurately conveys the commitment and passion I feel for the work that we all do.
Story by: Karen Griffin, Director of Resource Development