Mass Deployment

Operation Charm City Charge

June 20-27, 2019 | Baltimore, Maryland

Crew and Ambassador members at Garrett Park in Baltimore

Event Overview

Operation Charm City Charge, held in Baltimore, MD, marked the fourth iteration of our Mass Deployment program. From June 20-27th a team of 80+ veterans deployed from across the country, invested their time, energy, and skills to help make positive community-driven change in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Park, Harlem Park West, and Curtis Bay.

In total, over 900 veterans, volunteers, community members, and partners convened throughout the city for five consecutive days of physically demanding and visually impactful service. Efforts included large-scale service projects at a high school, two neighborhood parks, a Boys & Girls Club, city blocks, and a community resource center. In addition to their service the veteran volunteers took part in learning and development courses covering issues such as cultural competency and unconscious bias, providing a well-rounded, holistic experience for participants.

This deployment was years in the making with our Baltimore-area service platoons laying the groundwork starting in 2015 as part of our Service Platoon program. Planning included regular meetings so community members could share their vision and provide their input, as well as conversations with long-standing partner organizations to ensure that the impact achieved by Operation Charm City Charge would directly address the community’s needs. Operation Charge City Charge was a heightened continuation of our ongoing commitment to Baltimore—and the hundreds of local veterans of The Mission Continues—who are at the heart of sustaining our collective progress.


The Impact of Charm City Charge

Read more about our impact

Harlem Park West | June 22, 2019

To kick off our deployment, we took to the neighborhood of Harlem Park West with our long term community partner, the Harlem Park West (HPW) Community Association, and volunteers from Lockheed Martin, our daily sponsor. Harlem Park West is a neighborhood full of potential, and actively taking steps towards community-led development and revitalization. The community has a strong history of local activism, while facing social issues such as poverty, violence and unemployment.

Our mission was to continue the work that our Baltimore Service Platoons and HPW Community Association have been completing in the community, and to create a more safe and inviting spaces for residents to gather. We made an incredible transformation—a pocket park for seniors where an empty lot stood before, new shade structures, incredible landscaping, a peace park with a walking path, and plenty of murals to help restore a sense of pride to this vibrant and resilient community.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 pocket park, 1 peace park, and 1 rainbow shade structure


  • 2 community murals, with 1 that includes the neighborhood association’s logo


  • 1 brand new walking path

Farring-Baybrook Park | June 23, 2019

We spent our second project day working in Farring-Baybrook Park, one of the largest green spaces in South Baltimore. Covering over 100 acres, areas of the park remain underutilized and neglected despite recent community efforts. A brand new Bay-Brook Elementary/Middle School will be opening in 2020 on the western side of the park and, for some middle school students, this means a longer commute through a wooded corridor that has become a site for dumping and other illegal activity. With support from the Baltimore City Department of City Planning/ INSPIRE program, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, the Greater Baybrook Alliance, and local parents and residents, we set out to create safe pathways for hundreds of students traveling between the Curtis Bay neighborhood, the new Bay-Brook Elementary/ Middle School, and recreation facilities. Our volunteers cleared overgrowth and trash from the area, conducted walkway repairs and landscaping, built benches along the path and completed several murals to beautify and brighten the way to school.

What We Accomplished


  • 14 benches on the path


  • 3 large murals and construction of a 200 ft walking path


  • 120 cu yards of trash and planted 40 plants

Benjamin Franklin High School | June 24, 2019

The only high school in Brooklyn and Curtis Bay neighborhoods, Ben Franklin High School provides not only education but critical support services to its 500+ students and the broader community. Despite strides towards increased enrollment and graduation rates, youth engagement during and after school hours is an ongoing struggle. The school’s Ben Center provides meeting space and resources for students and the entire surrounding community. For our third day of service, over 200 volunteers worked across the school’s diverse educational spaces by overhauling two courtyards, building outdoor classrooms and shade structures, beautifying the campus with large murals and landscaping walking paths and gardens on the exterior of the campus.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 outdoor classroom with 1 chicken coop


  • The school’s iconic “love” mural


  • 2 courtyards with trash cleanup, new landscaping, and outdoor seating

Garrett Park | June 25, 2019

One of the few urban green spaces in the Brooklyn neighborhood, Garrett Park has been recognized by community members as a space in need of revitalization. Largely underutilized, the park has the potential to offer a positive outdoor environment for families, sports teams, adult recreation, and community events. Located within the park is the Brooklyn O’Malley Boys & Girls Club, serving up to 100 local youth on a daily basis.

For our fourth day of projects, we teamed up with our daily sponsor CarMax, the Greater Baybrook Alliance, Friends of Garrett Park, and Boys & Girls Club of Metro Baltimore to invest in and enhance these two community resources. In just one day we upgraded indoor and outdoor learning facilities with new furniture, colorful artwork, life-size blacktop games and gathering spaces, created a meditation garden with walking paths, outdoor classrooms, informational kiosks, and furniture, and revamped a baseball field with new bleachers and benches to allow the local community to best utilize the park and club.

What We Accomplished


  • 6 benches, 2 giant adirondack chairs, and 7 picnic tables


  • life-size blacktop games including chutes and ladders.


  • 1 meditation garden and labyrinth path

City of Refuge | June 26, 2019

One the final day of Operation Charm City Charge we gathered at City of Refuge, an organization dedicated to local individuals and families seeking a pathway out of poverty. City of Refuge’s facility focuses on their five impact areas: the essentials (daily needs), housing, human trafficking, workforce development, and youth empowerment. With the surrounding community bombarded by issues including high rates of unemployment, rising violent crime, and nearly half of residents living below the poverty level, the community is struggling to rise above these day-to-day obstacles.

Over 220 volunteers, including those from our daily sponsor The Home Depot Foundation, joined us to transform a vacant dumping lot into The Refuge Garden: a community garden, job training, and gathering space. We also created a clothing donation pavilion, built eco-friendly recyclable and composting sheds, repaired damaged roofing, and beautified and re-purposed the grounds with extensive garbage clean-up, murals, and blacktop games for a truly impactful end to the week.

What We Accomplished


  • 1 damaged roof and built a clothing donation pavillion


  • 3 murals and 5 blacktop games for the center


  • 1 vacant lot into a community garden

“Our [service] projects have really helped me to realize a greater appreciation for the strengths and challenges of this neighborhood in Baltimore experiences. I feel more connected to the city, my team, and even our country. I also have a greater understanding of my own strengths and how I might leverage my capabilities to continue serving in making a difference around my own community.”

Matthew Basista, Army veteran & Crew member

Operation Charm City Charge is supported by

Presenting Sponsors
Legacy Sponsor
Bronze Sponsors
Daily Sponsors
Major In-Kind Donation