AIRS (AIDS Interfaith Residential Services)

AIRS (AIDS Interfaith Residential Services) hosted its 11th Oscar Night® America Baltimore Gala. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

By Ibrahim Dabo
Mary-Ann Mula also contributed to this story

The Academy Awards is not only about celebrating the accomplishments of professionals thriving in the film industry but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also gives non-profit organizations across the US an opportunity to host an Oscar Night® America event and raise funds to support their programs.

On February 26, AIRS (AIDS Interfaith Residential Services) hosted its 11th Oscar Night® America Baltimore Gala, one of 49 official parties sanctioned by the Academy to host an official Oscar® telecast viewing party on Oscar Night. Ib Talk Online caught up with some of AIRS executives at the gala to find out how the organization is doing.

F.T. Burden, president of AIRS/Empire Homes

F.T. Burden, president of AIRS/Empire Homes speaking at the 2012 Oscar Night America Baltimore Gala. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

There has been some major progress with the activities of AIRS in Baltimore, two years after my first exclusive interview with F.T. Burden, president of AIRS/Empire Homes.


One such development, according to Burden, is his foundation’s ability to really entrench themselves with their work with homeless youth in the area of permanent housing.


“We were able to complete the development of Restoration Gardens, which is Maryland’s only permanent supported housing for homeless youth in the state and it’s going really well,” Burden said, noting that this West Baltimore project has been in operation for roughly a year now.


Restoration Gardens, a 43-unit apartment-complex facility, is one of the residential programs of AIRS and is set to grow even further.


Burden said they are now working on Restoration Garden II, which is similar to the first project and will be implemented in the East side of Baltimore.

“We’re dealing with kids that are aging out of foster care.  We do residential and non-residential programs,” Burden said.

AIRS’ housing program called City Steps, targets homeless and unstably housed youth between the ages of 14 and 24.

The non-residential programs also target youth between age 14 and 24 who get connected with various services such as counseling.

Oscar Night® America Baltimore Gala

Oscar Night® America Baltimore Gala. Photo credit: Ibrahim Dabo.

Burden said some of the youth are homeless for a number of reasons. For example, some suffer from neglect or abuses in the home, while others age out of the foster care system but still look out for some kind of support.

“We have a host of clinical services that are provided that deal with mental health issues to help youth suffering from trauma and abandonment,” Burden said, adding that AIRS addresses physical health issues as well.

He said AIRS is also involved with sensitization programs in the area of HIV/AIDS such as encouraging youth to get tested and know their status, and protecting themselves and their partners.

Nancy Strohminger, executive vice president of programs for AIRS, told Ib Talk Online that her organization is not just looking into more family housing options but will also determine which types of services to offer each population after the completion of such housing projects.

Strohminger said AIRS will strengthen its programs and establish benchmarks as part of goals to build self-sufficiency within the population they target. She said they also provide this population with life skills education, which is seen as an effort to restore hope to homeless youth in Baltimore.

Also see:
. F.T. Burden, President and CEO Of AIRS/Empire Homes Of Maryland, Sits Down With Ib’s Blog For An Enlightening Chat On HIV Prevention And Housing As A Stabilizing Factor For Baltimore City Residents
. Annual Oscar Night Baltimore Gala Celebrates Noteworthiness And Raises Funds For The City’s Homeless