My husband and I moved to Baltimore in 2008, without knowing anyone or anything about the city. We thought we’d make do for a few years while my husband worked long hours as a hospital resident and I in a large corporation downtown. Little did we know how much we would enjoy our time here and how hard it would be to leave. As we pack our belongings five years later, we are leaving a city and a community that we have grown to love.
During our time here, we have welcomed two children into our lives, and with that learned the true value of living in a downtown neighborhood. Our neighbors have keys to our house and will come over to let themselves in to borrow an egg or a cup of sugar. We have friends with whom we’ve raised our babies. We have taught our children more about diversity, empathy, and the power to work for real change than we could have in any suburb. We have not taken for granted the joy of walking and really enjoying the journey—talking with friends and neighbors, making unanticipated stops, and exploring our world.
I have always known that the end of our five years in Baltimore would come, but I never realized what difficulty I would have saying good-bye to our friends, our city, and a job that I love.
I became the executive director of DBFA in early 2010, and was overjoyed to find a job that not only allowed me the flexibility to be at home with my son, but also allowed me work on something I was very passionate about—making our neighborhood and ultimately our city a better place for families. I was proud to hold the position in such a reputable and strong organization then, and am elated that the organization has accomplished so much more in recent years. The dedication of the board, the staff, volunteers, and numerous city parents have truly made an impact for all parents in the city.
DBFA has grown to be an authority on Baltimore parent issues, evidenced by the various media outlets that feature DBFA or interview our representatives. DBFA has the ear of many city officials and leaders who affect change on things that are important to downtown life—education, walkability, green space, and children’s programming. It is tremendous to see how much has changed in the last few years. Baltimore now knows that families are a constituency worth working for. Just look at the number of family-friendly events in the city or even the mayor’s goal: bringing more families to the city.
There are a number of people who have helped me along my DBFA journey, to which I have the utmost gratitude:
To John, my husband, thank you for putting up with my crazy “flexible” schedule and for always supporting me.
To my many friends who’ve watched my kids when childcare fell through (or who were my childcare!), there is no price that can be put on the peace of mind of knowing my kids are well cared for and thrilled to hang out with their caregiver. I thank you for the “village” you have created for my children.
To the DBFA staff, I am always amazed at your dedication to the organization and how much each of you gives to your roles. You were incredible individuals to work with.
To the DBFA Board, thank you for your support and guidance. While in DBFA’s driver’s seat, I always felt that I had passionate navigators with me on the ride. I know how dedicated you all are to city life, and I was honored to have your trust to run the organization.
To the DBFA volunteers, our organization could not thrive as it has without your support.
And last but not least, thank you, Baltimore families. Although I plan to come back and visit often, I know it will not be the same as calling Baltimore my home. I have loved our five years here and know it wouldn’t have been the same without all of you. Keep Baltimore strong.
Heidi Vorrasi became DBFA's Executive Director in 2010. Her last day is May 15.