The Hearts of Harbor Park: Kera Miller & Nancy Longo
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
The famous Mr. Rogers’ quote, sharing the advice his mother gave him about how to handle scary things he saw in the news, feels more relevant than ever right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is the disease a scary one, but this time has also proven economically devastating to businesses and individuals all over the world.
But there are helpers. And as is frequently the case, those helpers are often women.
Here at Harbor Park Garage, a pair of women – Kera Miller and Nancy Longo – are the forces behind Heart of the Park, an initiative feeding hundreds of Baltimoreans in need each day.
Longo, a chef and the owner of the highly acclaimed Pierpoint Restaurant in Fells Point, works with her kitchen team to prepare healthy and delicious meals that can be distributed to eat right away or heated up later.
For over twenty years, Chef Longo’s restaurant has been a Baltimore dining destination. She’s known for her creativity and twists on local cuisine – like her famous smoked crab cake – and for the welcoming and fun vibe, she’s created in Pierpoint’s Fells Point dining room.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Pierpoint remains open for carry-out – and to prepare meals for distribution at Harbor Park.
Longo works with Miller, the longtime manager of Harbor Park Garage and a force in her own right. With nearly two decades under her belt at the garage, she has great relationships within the community and understands what people in the area need – even now, during this unprecedented crisis. Her experience has also given her a deep understanding of how to run a parking garage, which allowed her to quickly figure out the logistics of transforming Harbor Park from a regular garage into a food distribution center.
The program launched on March 27, 2020, and almost immediately, Longo and Miller realized the community’s need for meals was huge. Recognizing that demand, they teamed up with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, a non-profit organization that supports the areas businesses, cultural events, and the community. With Downtown Partnership’s help, by mid-April, Heart of the Park raised over $35,000.
Through Heart of the Park, and thanks to the fundraising support offered by Downtown Partnership and other members of the community, Longo, Miller and the Harbor Park team have distributed thousands of meals over the past few weeks – and plans are in the works to expand the program to provide even more meals on an ongoing basis.
Each day, they set up shop on the third floor of the garage; locals in need can stop by either by foot or by car (the first 20 minutes in the garage is free, so no need to worry about payment) to pick up ready to eat lunch and dinner to heat up later. Meals are distributed from noon to 2 p.m.
During those two hours – and throughout the rest of the day – Longo and Miller continue to think about how they can serve the community. Together they are, truly, the Heart of the Park.
Harbor Park Garage is located at 55 Market Place in downtown Baltimore. For more information and current news about Heart of the Park, including information about how to contribute to help feed Baltimoreans in need, visit: Heart of the Park
Pierpoint Restaurant is located at 1822 Aliceanna Street in Fells Point. For more information, call 410-675-2080 or visit: Pierpoint Restaurant