Mayor for a Day


Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #184

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! As we work each day to help Baltimore City overcome its challenges and become the great American city that we know it can be—and as we focus on these challenges and opportunities for growth—it is important that we not lose sight of all that we have to be thankful for.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of spending the day with a couple of Baltimore’s outstanding youths, whom I invited to be Mayor for a Day. Let me introduce these two exemplary young women.

Michaela Smith attends Roland Park Elementary/Middle School. She was recently crowned Miss Maryland Junior High School. She loves helping and improving her community and has been working on a project to eradicate bullying. Michaela’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, which has impacted the way Michaela views service. She has dedicated the efforts of her own business, Hairbands for Hope, to raise over $500 to support Susan G. Komen.

Asia McCallum is a senior at Forest Park High. She is currently building a nonprofit called The Optimistic Party and working to obtain patents for a number of products. Asia recently competed in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge with her business Fortunate!, which sells jumbo, personality-filled fortune cookies. She is a regional winner of the Scholastic Writing Awards and a Youth Service America grantee. Asia has a passion for environmental conservation and has been a work study student at the National Aquarium for the last three years.

After I welcomed Mayor Michaela and Mayor Asia to City Hall, our first stop was a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new MTA bus maintenance facility at Kirk Avenue. Michaela and Asia met some of our local, state, and federal elected officials at the groundbreaking, and saw how these three levels of government are able to work together in partnership to get great things done in our city.

After the groundbreaking, we headed to the Northwest Community Action Center and then to Moveable Feast. Throughout the month of November, City employees have collected non-perishable food items to provide Thanksgiving relief to families in need. Since Michaela and Asia are both involved in community service, it was a great opportunity for them to make connections and to offer service to others.

Our final stop for the afternoon was a meeting of the Mayor’s Coalition on Supplier Diversity and Inclusion. This newly sworn commission works to ensure that the City’s minority and women-owned business development programs are doing as much as possible to provide equal opportunity for Baltimore’s minority and women-owned businesses. This was a particularly enlightening meeting for these young ladies, as entrepreneurs.

It is my hope that Mayor for a Day gave these young women—future leaders in Baltimore's communities—a valuable glimpse into city government. But the program was not just a great opportunity for Mayor Michaela and Mayor Asia. I am also thankful for the opportunity that I had to spend the day with these promising young women. Their excitement, eagerness, and optimism are exactly the qualities we need to build a better, safer, stronger Baltimore. Mayor for a Day was a great success, and I will make sure that our children continue to have opportunities like this in the future.

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