Do you have professional expertise in a trade? Can you write a resume? Are you in the legal field? Can you knit or write poetry? If this sounds like you, or if you have other skills you’d like to share with community members, Out For Justice would love for you to volunteer at our All Night Community Resource Clinic on Friday, November 10, 2023 from 4pm–4am at 2330 East Monument Street in East Baltimore. Hosted by Out For Justice in partnership with Challenge to Change and InFusion Community Grants, the clinic is our powerful approach to reducing violence and increasing access to critical supportive services that uplift and invest in our communities.
A Supportive Approach to Reducing Violence
Imagine: a recently released mother spends her days caring for her children, relying on public transportation to get around, and working long hours at a low-paying job. She’s in dire need of assistance to help meet her family’s basic needs. Getting her criminal record expunged would open a world of opportunities. However, her dilemma puts her in a nearly impossible situation. She desperately needs to access these critical resources but doing so means she would need to miss work, and the missed pay is not something she can afford. She is exhausted and worries about the future for her and her children.
Navigating life after interacting with the criminal legal system can be an uphill battle that too many of our families and communities face. On top of the daunting task of rebuilding their lives during this transition, individuals are often burdened with the weight of conditions imposed upon them as part of their release. Accessing essential services in these circumstances is anything but straightforward. Even if you're well-informed about where to find these resources, the process usually involves trekking to multiple locations at inconvenient hours.
Seven years ago, Out For Justice (OFJ) staff and members began wondering: What would it look like for communities to provide the necessary support and resources for its members to become self-sufficient? How can we reimagine violence reduction through a safe space for community members who have been harmed by the criminal legal system?
The answer came in the form of the 2016 Summer Breakout Festival, where impacted community members gathered in Sandtown-Winchester to support each other as beacons of positive change. Adults and at-risk youth alike spent time socializing, showcasing their talents, and promoting their small businesses. This successful event validated OFJ’s message of redemption for impacted individuals.
The following year, Baltimore Ceasefire (now called the Baltimore Peace Movement) put out a city-wide call to not have any murders for 72 hours. As a grassroots organization consisting of individuals impacted by the criminal legal system, OFJ was ready to answer the call. Members and staff knew that violent crimes often occur in disinvested communities at night when the stressors of life catch up to people who are struggling to survive. Out For Justice decided to build on the success of the Breakout Festival by offering critical legal services as part of the event, turning it into an All Night Resource Fair. Traditional clinics and fairs are designed for the convenience and comfort of the agencies that set up tables, distribute flyers, and leave after a few hours. However, Out For Justice decided to flip this model by bringing services directly to disinvested communities during the hours they are needed most.
On the weekend of August 4th, 2017, Out For Justice hosted two back-to-back All Night Resource Fairs, one in East Baltimore and one in West Baltimore. Members and staff worked with residents to determine which resources were needed and enlisted the help of their member base, supporters, and allies to recruit corresponding service providers. Out For Justice was present the entire night to offer free expungement clinics, legal services, wellness sessions, and more with the goal of bringing peace and harmony to the city for 72 hours. Nearly 200 community members received services. It was a success.
Since then, this annual event has been co-hosted by Out For Justice and its partners in
various underserved communities. The All Night Resource Clinic provides a one-stop-shop for residents to receive services in one evening that may otherwise take weeks, months, or years to access. The event combines spotlighting the work of local residents, providing critical services, and welcoming residents to a safe, joyful, supportive space. Volunteers at this year’s clinic will include legal experts for criminal and civil matters, workforce developers, educators, service providers, artists, and more. All are invited to bring their children, family members, neighbors, and friends to socialize, release some stress, and get what they need.
Showing Up for the Community
Shorty’s Bootleg BBQ has been a staple of the All Night Community Resource Clinic since its inception. Chef Duane “Shorty” Davis, a justice-impacted longtime Out For Justice member, routinely shows up with his signature grill to cook and serve food at no cost. Shorty believes that cooking for people does more than satisfy their hunger; it acknowledges their humanity. “Jesus fed the multitudes and fed the people that were in most need…nobody else goes back to reach back for (them), they always get left by the wayside. So what I give back to those who can’t, is through food,” he explains. Shorty emphasizes the importance of the All Night Resource Clinic giving marginalized people the ability to receive services without having to catch multiple buses or miss work, reducing their stress levels and giving them more time to be with their families. He wants people to know that it’s a safe space where all are welcome to get what they need in a peaceful environment.
Attendees will also be able to get a fresh haircut and grooming services, courtesy of Derel Owens, a justice-impacted Out For Justice member and owner of Top Notch Barbershop in Southwest Baltimore. Derel provides the full experience through his mobile shop - chairs, combs, brushes, lights, music, and friendly conversation included. Derel explains that he’s not in the business of cutting hair; he’s in the business of restoring confidence. “The way you feel plays a major role in the outcome of your day, week, month and eventually a year. So yeah, one haircut or grooming service can change the trajectory of the whole entire year,” he elaborates. Derel describes the All Night Resource Clinic as “transformational” for people who are facing difficult scenarios when they enter a space that welcomes them with love, joy, and compassion. He has witnessed people leaving the clinic with renewed hope and the ability to see endless possibilities where they once saw none.
While the clinic is free for attendees, John Brothers, President of the T. Rowe Price Foundation, recognizes that there is a cost to putting it on. That’s why the foundation is proud to provide funding for the clinic. “Out for Justice is one of the most impactful organizations in the Baltimore community. We are proud that OFJ embraces us as a partner and we are honored that we are able to support the All-Night Community Resource Clinic. I love attending this event – seeing community locking arms together for its neighbors is what Baltimore is all about,” John shares.
No matter what your situation, we invite you to join us at the All Night Community Resource Clinic. As Shorty says, “You can have a little music, you can have a little peace of mind, you can have a little fellowship because you got people with common goals and common struggle.”
THE 2023 ALL-NIGHT COMMUNITY RESOURCE CLINIC
Date: Friday, November 10, 2023
Address: 2330 East Monument Street, Baltimore MD 21205
Volunteer/Vendor Sign-up Form: Click to complete this form