One Sunday last June, Phil LaBarge spent the morning pulling weeds from the sidewalk outside of his Canton home to help out the elderly people on his block. Feeling inspired by the therapeutic cleanup, he treated himself to brunch at Of Love and Regret afterwards. Midway through his meal, the San Diego transplant realized he had stumbled upon a way to make friends and give back to his new city—thus, the Beautify Baltimore Brunch Club (B3C) was born.
“This is the seventh city I’ve lived in, and I’ve had to learn to network myself in every city,” says LaBarge, a district sales manager at FedEx. “When I moved here, I didn’t know anybody, and I was looking for a way to build a community again.”
Since he posted his idea for a cleanup-and-brunch club in Canton’s neighborhood Facebook group in June, the concept has grown into an association of more than 600 members. B3C’s premise is simple: Club members nominate blocks that need weeding and then vote on their next brunch destination. Then, every other Sunday in the warmer months, a team of volunteers spends the morning tidying up the block with self-funded tools before rewarding themselves with stacks of pancakes and mimosas.
Although it’s less than a year old, this do-good club has already earned local kudos, including winning the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association’s Community All Star Award and adding noteworthy members such as Maryland Delegate Robbyn Lewis.
“It’s been so great to see people’s reactions to our work,” says Chelsea Maloney, who has been a member of B3C since its second session. “But my favorite part has been all the new and truly wonderful human beings I’ve met through the club.”
As B3C continues to grow in its second year, LaBarge hopes that the club’s actions will inspire others to take care of Canton, too. “You always want to be happy and proud of where you live and feel like you’re contributing to your community,” LaBarge says.