Baltimore mayor honors moms who make a difference in their communities

BALTIMORE - Everyone on the block knows Sonja Merchant-Jones, but on Tuesday more people found out who she is. 

She has lived between Waverly and Better Waverly for more than two decades. And she's watched her neighborhood change.

“I had a phone call. I looked out my window and it was as if we had a parade going on. It was if they're saying we're taking over,” Merchant-Jones said.

Sonja said gangs were bringing trouble to Gorsuch Avenue.  But not even that intimidated this grandmother who chairs the Better Waverly Community Organization.

With her councilwoman, and community police officer, she took on the gangs.

"I'm gonna make dinner for you. We're gonna meet. We're gonna vent, and then we're gonna be done with it, and we were," she said.

Merchant-Jones’s brave efforts didn't go unnoticed.  She was honored Tuesday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake along with 24 other Baltimore Top Neighborhood Moms.

"You don't do what you do looking to be honored but it sure feels good when someone stops to take the time to say thank you," she said.

Rawlings-Blake, presided over the ceremony, passing out tins of cookies to some of Baltimore’s best neighborhood moms.

"There are so many positive things on the horizon and to have so many positive ladies are leaders this community," Rawlings-Blake said.

Rodney Orange attended the event with his mother Catherine Orange. He said she retired from Baltimore City College on a Friday and was back to work bettering her community on a Monday.  

 “I'm just so proud and have always been proud of my mom," Rodney said.

Catherine is a Seton Hill mom that runs the Arena Players Theater and serves as a mentor.

"We teach drama [and] speech.  It's just so wonderful when you see these kids do something positive, but we need more of that," Catherine said.

From Govans to Cherry Hill and communities in between they were honored for everything from neighborhood watch to cleaning up their streets. They're making a difference, but there's always room for a few more good women.

"Roll up your sleeves and get involved because we need to be involved if we're gonna make a change.  We have to do it," Catherine said.

Merchant-Jones , sitting at a nearby table, added, "I love this city and I love my community and I want for other children what I wanted for my kids and that’s why I do what I do."

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