Our Milestone celebration typically honors individuals, organizations, groups, and nonprofits doing exceptional work to make Dundalk a better place.  Late 2020 and early 2021, we asked Dundalk to tell us the stories of the COVID heroes in their lives.  While the pandemic has changed how we will celebrate this year’s honorees, we’re excited to announce this year’s 2021 Milestone and Cornerstone awardees!  

Due to the exceptional community service and outreach performed by Community Assistance Network (CAN) and the incredible fundraising efforts of Jimmy’s Famous Seafood to help support local restaurants, we’ve decided to award our 2021 Cornerstone Award to CAN and Jimmy’s Seafood.  

“This year we wanted to celebrate resilience,” Amy Menzer, Executive Director said.  “By supporting vulnerable individuals and businesses, our two 2021 Cornerstone honorees have greatly contributed to our community’s resilience and making Dundalk Strong.”   

CAN has serviced households all over the county with resources, housing, and their food pantry—located right here in Dundalk.  CAN has been working tirelessly to connect clients with resources and food and housing for over 50 years, 36 of those years were spent headquartered in Dundalk.  Pandemic related layoffs put many families at risk for food insecurity and in need of eviction prevention services.  CAN was able to adapt to the needs of the pandemic focusing on creating stability for families in uncertain times.  Between March 9 and December 31, 2020, CAN provided food assistance and resources to 6,000 households.  Their food distribution during this period was enough for 400,000 meals. 

“The pandemic has amplified issues of food insecurity and housing insecurity across Baltimore County and in Dundalk, and we are so grateful for the work of the Community Assistance Network in stepping up to meet these increased needs during a time of crisis for so many of our most vulnerable residents.” Ms. Menzer said. 

Jimmy’s Famous Seafood raised over $500,000 for local bars and restaurants struggling to stay open and pay staff as a result of COVID 19. Jimmy’s Famous Seafood has a long history of giving back to the community including donating food to places like, Soup for the Soul.  Jimmy’s Famous Seafood routinely uses their connections and fan base to help a good cause well before COVID changed our lives.  

“The pandemic has threatened the livelihoods of many small independent businesses including restaurants that employ and are patronized by so many in our community. We are deeply grateful for the efforts of Jimmy’s Seafood to help these small businesses endure.” Ms. Menzer said. 

This year’s Milestone award winners were chosen for their adaptability and resiliency.  Pink Walnut Body Care Bistro and Joanna’s Café both faced tremendous odds operating a newly formed business throughout the pandemic and quickly became community staples.  Pink Walnut Body Care Bistro owner, Najma Jamaludeen, quickly became a member of the Historic Dundalk Town Center community, eagerly coming to HDTC events, offering ideas and insights to better help the HDTC highlight the community’s assets. Joanna’s Café owner, Lindsay Banfill, was able to ramp up her existing carry out and delivery services to keep the community well caffeinated during difficult times, as well as host a toy drive at her restaurant through a local Krampus organization and provided families in need with groceries by offering customers the option to pay it forward by donating money to help offset the cost of groceries.   

“Covid-19 was a hit no business could plan for but the way Pink Walnut Body Car Bistro and Joanna’ Café not only worked to keep their doors open, but also get involved in the community, serve as  perfect examples of the never give up spirit of Dundalk.” Nicholas Staigerwald, Business Development Manager, said.  “Opening a new business can be a scary endeavor. This is made even more terrifying when a global pandemic cuts your sales in half. Najma and Lindsey rolled with every punch 2020 had to throw. We felt their dedication to remain open and to serve the community had to be recognized.” 

Additional Milestone winners include Seiko Dixon, who routinely volunteers her time her time and talent to help those in need, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Turner Station and Soup for the Soul their 39 years of service and dedication to the Dundalk community, especially throughout the pandemic when so many more members of our community were facing food insecurity as a result of lost wages and jobs.  

“The stories of our 2021 Milestone honorees are each in their own way about resilience – and we are so honored to highlight their contributions to making Dundalk strong!” Ms. Menzer said.

This years Gemstone winners are Paris Willett (Patapsco High School), Serenity Hamiel (Patapsco High School), Edwina Perez (Community College of Baltimore County), and Kalei Files (Community College of Baltimore County). 

We hope you will join us in honoring these amazing organizations and business owners on Thursday, April 8 at 6:30pm.  This year’s Milestone Award ceremony will be virtual and free to the public.  Sign up in advance to register for the celebration.