New Song Urban Ministries covers a 15-square-block area in an economically depressed community in West Baltimore known as Sandtown. New Song’s headquarters are located in a row house at the corner of Gilmor and Presstman Streets, and serve as an umbrella for a variety of programs: New Song Community Center, Sandtown Habitat For Humanity, New Song Community Learning Center, New Song Family Health Services, EDEN Jobs, and New Song Arts and Media—offering rehabilitation, education, job training and housing. Now, in response to the needs of the community, the ministries have expanded their capability with the completion of a $5.4 million community center at 1530 Presstman Street.
New Song Center, three stories tall and blending into the architecture of the brick row house neighborhood, is a 30,000-square facility, and offers a 350 seat auditorium, ten class rooms for the academy, parents’ resource room, school store, greenhouse, gymnasium, performance stage, an outdoor courtyard, and a science room with a wall of aquariums and terrariums for keeping fish, hamsters, and snakes to study. Future plans include the development of a college placement office, a home economics kitchen, evening recreational activities for children and adults, including adult education classes and the doubling of enrollment at the academy from 100 to 200 students. Currently the Center houses kindergarten through eighth grades but will expand to include ninth through twelfth grades.
This complex of human services is the 15-year accomplishment of Alan and Susan Tibbels and Rev. Mark Gornik, working in partnership with the community to “effect social justice.” “We wanted to love God,” Susan Tibbels says, “and love our neighbors as ourselves.” With that credo, in 1986, the Tibbels sold their rancher in leafy-green Columbia, and with their two daughters, joined the Rev. Gornik in a move to West Baltimore. In the context of this extraordinary commitment, the development programs that define New Song have taken root in Sandtown, and are growing in size and ability to remain responsive.
The Abell Foundation salutes New Song Urban Ministries for the work it has been doing and the expansion of that work made possible by the construction and opening of its new community center.