The United Way Ben Center and Partners Welcome First Children into New Outdoor Play and Learning Space
Located at Ben Franklin High School, the new playground was made possible by COPT, Plano-Coudon, Brightview and Floura Teeter
Baltimore, MD (September 13, 2019) – Today, United Way of Central Maryland and partners Corporate Office Properties Trust (“COPT”) (NYSE: OFC), Plano-Coudon, Brightview and Floura Teeter opened a new, interactive play and learn space featuring nature-based play at the United Way Ben Center at Benjamin Franklin High School. The playground was the brainchild of COPT’s President and CEO, Stephen E. Budorick, former United Way of Central Maryland campaign chair. Budorick enlisted the support of other local companies to bring the children of the Ben Center the new outdoor space that will also be used as an outdoor classroom.
“United Way is grateful to Corporate Office Properties Trust and their partners who made this awesome space possible and who have so generously given their time, their talents, and their resources so that these little ones will have an amazing space to play and learn here at the Ben Center,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our mission at United Way is simple. We help change lives for the better; working in partnership with others, because change doesn’t happen alone. This playground is an impressive and tangible example of the power of partnerships and the commitment of these community leaders to giving back to the neighborhoods where they’re based and which they serve.”
The Ben Center, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in October, uses the community school strategy of listening to the community and responding with programs and services provided by a network of partners. This includes an early childhood development program for teen parents attending the school and their young children, as well as housing assistance, health and wellness services, United Way’s On Track 4 Success dropout prevention program, job and food assistance, and more for students, their families, and neighborhood residents.
Tom Kelley, director of design and chair of corporate giving for COPT, participated in Friday’s playground opening that included more than 20 current and alumni Family Center parents and their children.
“We are so proud to have been a part of this project. From the beginning, COPT was involved because our CEO, Steve Budorick, took a tour of the Ben Center, and was impressed with the impact United Way has been able to have on the students, and the community. He wanted to know how we could help, and we learned that these kids needed a new place to play,” said Mr. Kelley. “This amazing program at the Ben Center has allowed these students to beat the odds. The graduation rates for the United Way Ben Center are well above the rest of the city, and even the nation. And being here today, you can really see how this is more than a playground for these kids. This is a clean, safe place to play and learn outdoors. Something many of them don’t have access to outside of this building.”
“I remember my first tour of the Ben Center last year as the chair of the United Way campaign. I was struck by what appeared to be a dearth of play space for young children in the neighborhood, and the need for improved facilities at the Ben Center,” added Mr. Budorick. “I’m committed to making our community better, and so is COPT, and this project for United Way was an ideal way to reinvest in our city. We could not have done this without our lead community partners Brightview, Plano-Coudon, and Floura Teeter. This was a true team effort that has created a fun and educational space for the Ben Center kids.”
For more information about the United Way Ben Center and its work, visit www.uwcm.org.
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United Way of Central Maryland makes our communities stronger. We work directly with families and individuals to keep them in their homes and out of shelters, with kids who are falling behind in school, and with people who need easier access to healthy food and jobs that pay the bills. We achieve all this with the help of our partners: volunteers, donors, other nonprofits and area businesses who share our passion for making lives and neighborhoods stable and healthier.
About COPT: COPT is a publicly traded real estate company that specializes in developing and operating office buildings in locations that support the United States Government and its defense contractors, as well as organizations in the information technology and cybersecurity industries. COPT also owns seven Class-A office buildings in urban and transit-served locations, including three office towers totaling 1.4 million square feet in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor sub-market. For more information, please refer to www.copt.com.