Finding light in the darkest of days: Baltimore Firesouls convene at Roberta’s House

We all dread those gloomy days, days where the sky threatens rain and casts a dark shadow over the city. But at 928 E. North Ave in Baltimore, MD, a light shines through with open doors and open arms. 

Roberta’s House is a three story counseling and bereavement center located in the heart of Baltimore, just steps from the Green Mount Cemetery. The converted rowhouse facility blends seamlessly with the surrounding architecture, a stark contrast from the traditional mental health facility model of fluorescent lights, sterile white walls and corporate-style furniture. Roberta’s House feels like a house — a home. 

When one of our newest Firesouls and Roberta’s House co-founder, Annette March-Grier, offered to host our Baltimore Affinity Group meeting, many of our Baltimore-based Firesouls took advantage of this unique opportunity. 

Annette tells the story of Roberta’s House, pointing out the intentionally calming colors and layout of the main living room.

We kicked off the meeting with a private tour; Annette led us through the facility, carefully pointing out each cozy living-room style counseling space, childrens rooms, teen rooms, activity and crafting centers, meditation rooms and more; each and every one decorated with a butterfly motif — a symbol of bereavement, healing and rebirth. Annette welcomed us into this incredible space of healing, belonging and reflection, where the sense of care and support is palpable. 

And for Annette, that warm welcome and sense of belonging is foundational to the work. “People come to us during the darkest days of their lives” and Annette and her team ensure that they receive the support, care and time that they need to heal.

“Your grief not only shatters you, but is an opportunity for growth. It gives you the gift of teaching you about who you are.”

Each and every day, Annette and her team strive to help those suffering the loss of a loved one find that gift buried in tragedy.

One of the numerous toddler and children activity rooms available at the facility. Each room features butterfly decor.

Roberta’s House offers groups and counseling services to children, teens, and adults who are grieving a loss. Clients of Robert’s House come from all walks of life; parents who’ve lost children, children who’ve lost parents, teens, parents, young adults, anyone who is struggling to grapple with the harshest realities in this world. 

Particularly in Baltimore, a city consistently recognized as one of the most violent in the country, Roberta’s House’s specialized groups for families and loved ones of victims of violent crime and drug overdose that provide informed support are invaluable. 

Clients of Roberta’s House often come from underserved communities in Baltimore, where finding proper access to mental health and counseling resources can be complex. Tanya Desheilds, a retired RN and long-time volunteer at Roberta’s House beautifully articulated the effects that the facility has on the community. “Blight is more than a vacant lot – it’s the absence of hope, the lack of community.

Roberta’s House is a phoenix, rising from the blight and becoming a beacon of hope for this neighborhood.”

Decorative tapestry at Roberta’s House.

Roberta’s House is also the future home of two new Sacred Places. One will be nestled in a corner lot directly beside the building, and will be open to the public. The second Sacred Place will be a rooftop garden, with a gorgeous view of the Baltimore City skyline to the east and west, and a Green Mount Cemetery to the south. 

Roberta’s House Rooftop Sacred Place design plan

Both will incorporate design elements meant to invoke reflective peace and contemplation.

After our tour, Firesouls gathered for lunch and a brief presentation of the design plan by Design Advisor Alice Storm Jones of Floura Teeter Landscape Architects. Then the group heard from Nature Sacred CEO, Alden Stoner, and Chief Programs Officer, Erin Robertson, of upcoming events and offerings. 

Firesouls take some time to get to know one another, share ideas and resources.

We wrapped up the meeting by brainstorming ways for the Baltimore Firesouls to connect with one another. With a beautiful sense of community, Firesouls expressed interest in collaborating with one another to share resources, programming ideas and even partnering with local anti-violence groups to further serve their communities and the Baltimore area at large. 

Community collaboration is at the heart of what we do, and our Baltimore Firesouls truly embrace this sentiment in a magical way. We look forward to seeing what else this passionate group can do, and we thank Annette and the rest of the Roberta’s House community for welcoming us into their incredible space. 

Firesouls from the League for People with Disabilities, Kirby Lane, Marion House, Stillmeadow Peace Park, UMNEA, Epiphany Chapel and Roberta’s House along with members of the Nature Sacred team.