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Erika McClammy, Board Secretary

 

I recently saw a photo that summed up my thoughts perfectly: One person named “Still Processing

2020” is running but can see another runner, “2022 in two months”, quickly gaining on them. If you are like me,

you too ran in a zigzag pattern to the 2020 finish line, just made it out of the virtual gates for 2021 and didn’t

feel any benefit in that extra Daylight Savings Time hour. I NEED SIX MORE MONTHS IN 2021!

Now that you and I have connected our shared anxiety (and trauma), let’s face together the fact that we

are still here. Instead of running faster, run off the road or moving out the way for “new-year-coming-that-

won’t-be-named”, I’m blocking its path so that I can intentionally and deliberately be thankful. I started my

season of Thanksgiving a little early this year — January 1, 2021. I no longer take anything or anyone for

granted, and I am extremely thankful for every friend I have made, every mistake I have anguished over and

corrected, every opportunity not missed, and every item I have been able to check off my bucket list. And I’m

extremely thankful and grateful for Cornerstone Community Housing.

 

After being introduced to this organization by a former board member, I have had the pleasure of

serving on Cornerstone’s board since April of 2018. I thought my professional experience working on behalf of

people and communities would be a huge benefit to this organization. I have worked as a community organizer

to improve Baltimore City neighborhoods, oversaw planning and implementation of human service programs at

3 mixed-income developments in three mid-western states, and coordinated neighborhood and economic

development initiatives in southwest Baltimore. I did stints with two Baltimore City agencies, opened, and then

revived, a law practice, and am now on my 3rd city government stint in the Office of the Comptroller. One of the

main reasons I am holding back the door on the “new-year-coming-that-won’t-be-named” is because I am still

trying to have Cornerstone benefit from my experience. In these last 3 years of board service, I have been the

one on the receiving end of this imbalanced relationship. Former board members like Nancy Gardner and

Marina Blandino have opened my mind and expanded my comfort in fundraising and communication strategies.

Current President Nathan Barbo has served as an excellent model in leadership accountability. Sheila Helgerson

and the rest of the Cornerstone staff unknowingly remind me of the grace that comes with servant leadership.

 

And the men who live in Prospect Place and Earl’s Place put in the hard work of not giving up.

Despite my best efforts, I know there is nothing I can do to stall the “new-year-coming-that-won’t-be-

named”. My professional experience will not matter or benefit until I use it through the lens of thanksgiving. I

am thankful to celebrate a milestone birthday this year. And with that thanks, I used the good part of social

media to solicit monetary birthday gifts to benefit Cornerstone. I’m polishing my work experience with all I

have learned and received in these last 3 years as a board member to be an even better supporter and advocate

of this great work of helping men rebuild their lives.

 

Other than a theme of thanksgiving, I did not know what I would write in this letter. But I knew what I

hoped would happen. I hoped the feeling of being overwhelmingly rushed towards a “new-year-coming-that-

won’t-be-named” would resonate with someone and encourage them to take time today, tomorrow, and each

coming week to give thanks. I hoped someone would give thanks by introducing a friend or a company (or a

funder) to Cornerstone. I hoped someone’s interest will be piqued enough to call Sheila and give thanks by

joining our board.

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Let’s finish 2021 strong! We don’t have to be the fastest runner. But we do need to intentionally or

continue to give time, talent and donations to help Cornerstone run with endurance. Happy Thanksgiving!

Erika McClammy (2nd row, 3rd from left)

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Board Member

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