The Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance carved out an ambitious agenda as early as 2018, identifying the renovation of Greater Model Rec Center in Poppleton and the green space surrounding the architecturally significant building as a project worthy of our attention. The Rec Center was shuttered a long time ago and fell into major disrepair. In some ways it’s symbolic of the surrounding community. The area has witnessed years of neglect, disinvestment and a decade long delay regarding the Center West development. Poe Homes residents living in Baltimore’s oldest public housing project, lost their water supply for an entire week during the summer of 2019. But hope springs eternal and it’s human nature always to find fresh cause for optimism. On February 22nd neighborhood volunteers along with members of the Church of the Nativity, nearly 100 strong, cleaned out the Rec Center in preparation for its renovation, revival and planned reopening sometime this summer. In the words of one impartial observer, “It was nothing short of amazing”. Basically, in a single weekend, the Church raised $400,000 for the building’s renovations and attacked the project head on with a bunch of additional in-kind services from its staff, church members and friends. The Alliance is taking a lead role to engage community members in order to develop the programing for the Rec Center.

Looking back, from its inception as a loosely knit informal group of friends and community members meeting regularly and planning for a brighter future for area residents, the Alliance has been a major partner in the creation of a comprehensive system and structure for sports and recreation in southwest Baltimore.