BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- One Baltimore City church is trying to reconcile its founders' ties to slavery by pledging $500,000 in reparations throughout the next five years.
When Bolton Hill's Memorial Episcopal Church learned some of its founders were once slave owners, the decision was unanimous.
"It was immediately unanimous that we needed to act, that we needed to create this reparations initiative," Rev. Grey Maggiano of Memorial Episcopal Church said.
The church pledged $500,000 in reparations to be given out in the next five years, starting this week.
"We've given out $30,000 in grants to local organizations," Rev. Maggiano said.
Among them is a west Baltimore organization called Black Women Build.
"We purchase homes that are abandoned and the women get an opportunity to work on the houses and eventually purchase them and own them," Tonika Garibaldi, of Black Women Build Baltimore, said.
Women like Bryanna Vellines said she built her own stairs.
"I put them in myself, wasn't the easiest thing, but I finished those in like a day," she said.
For her, this new home means independence.
"The best thing about this opportunity is the feeling of stability," Vellines said.
With the church's reparation fund, the organization said they'll be able to do more.
"The money that we receive will allow us to purchase more homes," Garibaldi said.
"The fact that the church is stepping up to it and trying to make a change means a lot for me as a Black person," Vellines said.
Rev. Maggiano said the money can't erase the past, but will build a better future.
"Ensure that future generations have a brighter and better future to look forward to," he said.
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