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Cheap Seats: Block Pool Benefits Baltimore Charities

April 12, 2013

By Barrett Neale

When Baltimore beat San Francisco Feb. 3 in New Orleans, Charm City charities also became winners.

PressBox's third-annual 100 Block Charity Pool once again raised $14,000. Each of the 100 blocks corresponded to two numbers on the 10-by-10 grid, one for the last digit of Baltimore's score and one for the last digit of San Francisco's score.

The four companies that had the winning numbers at the end of each quarter received $3,500 each to donate to their selected charities. The participants chose causes that had special meaning for them. Here are the winners and beneficiaries of the 2012-13 100 Block Charity Pool.

Stan "The Fan" Charles with Christine Manlove and Tim Tremblay.

First Quarter: Computers Inc.
Numbers: 7 (Baltimore) and 3 (San Francisco)
Charity: St. Elizabeth School

Tim Tremblay, owner of Computers Inc., became a winner during his first year participating in the block pool, and selected St. Elizabeth School as the recipient of the donation.

"They were one of my first clients when I got into business," Tremblay said, "and they're a great cause and I've supported them for 26 years."

The Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore founded St. Elizabeth School in 1961 for children with special needs. The state and local school systems fund students' tuition, but St. Elizabeth needs to raise money for operating costs and special projects. Christine Manlove, executive director of St. Elizabeth School, said she would use the money Tremblay won to help buy some new equipment for the gym.

St. Elizabeth is a K-12 school, with students ranging in age from 6-21 (Manlove said some students needed a few extra years to finish their high school program). Some students come to St. Elizabeth from other schools where their needs aren't being fulfilled, Manlove said.

"A parent told us just recently that in the old school, his son hated writing," Manlove said, "and he never wrote more than a paragraph. He's on the autism spectrum, and here, the social workers worked with his special interests. He wrote a 10-page paper. I can't say it without crying, because these parents are so moved by the transformation of their child."

Second Quarter: Mr. Basement
Numbers: 1 (Baltimore) and 6 (San Francisco)
Charity: Special Olympics Maryland

Ron Greenbaum, owner of Mr. Basement, has participated in the block pool all three years, and said it was tremendous that he was helping out a cause near and dear to his family, Special Olympics Maryland.

"I have a special-needs daughter who participates, and has for 20 years, in Special Olympics," Greenbaum said. "My family has been personally involved in Special Olympics and we know what a great program that is."

Special Olympics Maryland has been providing training and competition for athletes with intellectual disabilities since it was founded in 1970. The athletes don't have to pay to participate, and donations go directly into SOMD programs to make them accessible to all Marylanders with intellectual disabilities, said Jason Schriml, SOMD's vice president of communications.

Schriml said the money from the block pool would go toward awards and equipment for SOMD's Summer Games at Towson University, which will be held at the beginning of June. Athletes will compete in track and field, swimming, bocce, cheerleading, softball and tennis.

"Our athletes, a number of them are on federal or state benefits," Schriml said, "and therefore don't have the income or the families don't have the income to put out registration fees on par to what youth sports are, so it's critical that we give them this opportunity to get out and exercise and socialize."

Third Quarter: Royal Farms
Numbers: 8 (Baltimore) and 3 (San Francisco)
Charity: Living Classrooms Foundation

Royal Farms president and CEO John Kemp serves on the board of trustees for the Living Classrooms Foundation, which will receive the money Royal Farms won in the block pool.

"Royal Farms is proud to support such a fine organization," said Frank Schilling, the company's director of marketing and merchandising, "and is pleased to continue to give back to the communities that have made us part of their everyday lives for over 50 years."

Living Classrooms has provided hands-on education and jobs-training programs for at-risk youth for 27 years. James Bond, president and CEO of Living Classrooms, said the organization's work included running a charter school for middle school students, helping improve the performance of students at Baltimore-area schools and managing local recreation centers.

Living Classrooms serves about 40,000 youth in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas, and Bond said the money from the block pool would help support the foundation's work in east Baltimore at a target investment center.

"We are helping to build a pipeline of services," Bond said, "from cradle to college/career, for the thousands of children in that community. That's where we have these different sites ... from the schools to the after-school programming we're running with half a dozen schools to the many different activities to help keep these kids safe, and to help them improve in schools and prepare for the workforce."

Stan "The Fan" Charles with Dave Finkelstein and Ron Levine.

Fourth Quarter: Myers Solomon Realty
Numbers: 4 (Baltimore) and 1 (San Francisco)
Charity: Camp Shoresh

Ron Levine, vice president of marketing and sales for Myers Solomon Realty, has been a winner both times he's participated in the block pool, supporting the same cause, Camp Shoresh. Levine said he chose that cause because he has been friends with Rabbi Dave Finkelstein, director of the summer camp and year-round organization Shoresh Inc., since coaching his son in Little League.

"[Camp Shoresh is] just a fabulous place," Levine said, "and they just do a great job for this group of kids. I've always had a love for Rabbi Dave, and if he needs my help, it's always there."

Finkelstein said Shoresh, which means roots, was a social and moral value-based program to keep participants connected to their Jewish roots. He said the winnings from the block pool would help create scholarships for children from financially challenged families to attend Shoresh programs.

Shoresh started 34 years ago with 19 campers at a three-week camp. There are now seven weeks of camp, split up into two sessions -- which had 357 total campers in 2012 -- in addition to other programs that continue throughout the year.

"At Shoresh, we work with the kids from baby to bubbe," Finkelstein said. "We stay connected to them really their whole lives. A lot of the kids who came to camp as 3- or 4-year-olds, I'm officiating at their weddings."

More Cheap Seats:
Blast's PA Announcer Is Homegrown Talent
Injury Led Emilee Tominovich From Soccer To Auto Racing
Danny Wiseman Is Baltimore's First Hall Of Fame Bowler
Former Terp Still Competing In Track And Field At Age 73
Backyard Bocce Ball Provides Home For Baltimore's Italians
Block Pool Benefits Baltimore Charities

Issue 184: April 2013