He walks the walk, but Reverend Willie Ray wonders if the Baltimore's political, civic and religious leaders actually hear him when he talks.
"The kids are on the corners---no rec centers, no programs, no camps," said Ray, repeating a message he’s delivered for decades.
The so-called Priest of Poplar Grove says eight churches within two blocks of his safety house on Harlem Avenue have joined together in an outreach effort directed at the children of the Rosemont community, and he wants every church in Baltimore to follow suit in a program called "One Church, One Corner."
"That would be a miracle. You would see zero homicides, but we have at least 2,000," explained Ray.
"And how many corners?"
"Well, you can count them as a church on every corner."
Ray envisions a place where children can escape the violence on the streets, work on their computer skills and occasionally come into contact with visiting entertainers, athletes or artists to inspire them.
"They need to see role models, like me and others like yourself, that's showing a passion for them and their way of life,” said Ray. “As the saying goes, 'It's a fine thing to hear a sermon, but it's a finer thing to see one."
It is the dream of a self-proclaimed visionary who is no stranger to Baltimore.
"Willie Ray has been out here for 40 years," said the outspoken pastor who doesn't mind the decades of futility in trying to achieve his goal, if only he could make it happen.
"It's my legacy. It's my legacy---my legacy before God comes or I go to meet with him,” said Ray. “I want every church to have a corner."
"One Church, One Corner" is kicking off its renewed effort with a back to school prayer vigil at the corner of Franklintown Road and Harlem Avenue starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1.
Reverend Ray says children will receive free school supplies and refreshments.