WINDSOR MILL, Md. — For the past five years, WMAR has put together a program called “Built Upon a Dream,” modeled after ABC's ”Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.“
Every year, we find a deserving local charitable organization, and then bring together some of the area's best builders, contractors, architects, and dozens of volunteers to fix up some of the facilities at that charity, which does not have to spend a dime.
This year, we're working with an organization that helps hundreds of children who are going through some tough situations – The Board of Child Care.
You may have driven past the Baltimore campus of the Board of Child Care hundreds of times and not even known it. It is just west of I-695, in the Milford Mill area.
The campus houses an organization that's been helping children for more than a century.
“We started as three orphanages back in the late 1890s and early 1900s, and over the decades we have evolved to be a fully functional mental health and behavioral health facility,” said Kristian Seske, the chief operating officer for the Board of Child Care.
In fact ”orphanage“ is not a word that's used there anymore. The Board of Child Care focuses on services for children and their families. The campus can house more than 100 kids ages nine through 21. Children are also bused to the campus here daily from up to 90 miles away.
“Our staff are trained behavioral health professionals that really understand how to both treat and coach families through that time in a child's life,” Seske said.
By ”that time,” Seske is talking about trauma. Children wind up at the Board of Child Care for many different reasons. They may need more support in school than they can get in a tradition classroom. There are also children with a wide range of behavioral, health and mental health needs. They're not “bad kids,” but many of them have had bad things happen to them.
“The children served by Board of Child Care truly have a diverse set of needs and backgrounds,” Seske said. “What probably unites most of the children and families we serve is a history of past trauma.“
Unlike the foster care system of years ago, in most cases the Board of Child Care now works to re-unite traumatized families. Or, they can allow kids and teens to stay and build life skills on the Milford Mill campus.
“One of the most fulfilling parts of this work is seeing the alumni come back and tell us how they're doing,” Seske said.
WMAR-2 News' “Built Upon a Dream” project will focus on sprucing up the dining hall, the gym, and a common ”canteen“ area used by the children for down-time and events such as birthday parties and watching movies.
“We really try to start with a 'feel' for a space. Trying to invoke some kind of reaction from the people that will be in it,” said Lauren Uhlig, an architect with Hord Coplan Macht, who is donating her expertise to the project.
“We're trying to build a really special space that the kids and families we serve can be proud of,” said Nicole Smith, the executive director for Maryland and DC Programs at the Board of Child Care.
In fact, the work has already started.
“The Built Upon a Dream grant is truly an incredible opportunity,” Seske said.
WMAR-2 News will continue checking in on the progress at the Board of Child Care over the next two months, and bring you updates along the way on how the dream is becoming a reality.
“A big focus for us as a charity is family involvement,” Seske said. “And this grant is letting us really create some really cool spaces that let families come to campus and really just be present with their kids.”
The ”Built Upon a Dream“ program will air on WMAR-2 News in late August.
If you or your business or organization would like to get involved in the project click here to get started.