Catonsville Patch: Where did you grow up?
Patch: Tell us about the founding of The Samaritan Women.
Allert: I was leading a life of middle class privilege: a good education, family, travel, and I had a bit of a crash, thinking...is this it?
Then I met a woman whose life was being ripped apart by tragedy, and I realized that I was meant to give back. So, empathy was the catalyst for starting The Samaritan Women, to give a place of restoration to people whose lives have gone terribly wrong and who need help to reclaim their lives.
I bought this property and with literally thousands of volunteers, we spent two years establishing the farm and renovating the buildings.
So we give women a safe and supportive place for rehabilitating, but they have to pick up the shovel.
Patch: What are the steps to rehabilitation for your residents?
Allert: We help them with counseling, vocational development, academics, mentoring, hobbies, connecting with community, spirituality, and self-care. Our vocational training is on our farm and in the culinary arts. We are looking to entrepreneurship as a future development.
Patch: In what ways are you connected to the Catonsville community?
Allert: There are so many ways, I can’t even begin to tell you all of them. We have such a good relationship with Catonsville.
First of all, this property used to be considered East Catonsville.
And we were in the July 4th parade. We had the dogs with us, some of the residents, even the goats!
We collect food scraps from restaurants up and down Frederick Road for our composting and for our kitchen.
Pastor Dave at Salem Lutheran has a plot of land here. He grows corn and other things that we don’t grow.
We have a great relationship with Erickson Retirement Communities. In fact, this week, we are meeting to sketch out ideas for us to develop a growing nursery for use in a neighborhood beautification project with Erickson, St. Agnes, and CCBC.
CCBC students helped us develop our human trafficking, public awareness program.
Catonsville Presbyterian Church has done a lot of drives for us, collecting specific things we need like toiletries and that kind of thing.
Patch: What should people be aware of in terms of activities at The Samaritan Women?
Allert: I’ll just tell you about three of them. We do a produce stand, with whatever is in harvest, every Saturday from 9:00-1:00. Our next big event is our October 4 Gala, followed by our Open House on October 6. The information has just gone up on our website about those two events. Finally, on November 1, we are hosting a one-day, clergy conference on human trafficking. We want clergy to know what communities of faith can do to get involved. It’s really an abolitionist movement.
Patch: And what does The Samaritan Women need that we should know about?
Allert: Money, money, money. We have moved into our operational phase now, and the women who live here need so much support. Even if people could commit to $25 a month, it would go a long, long way. We also continue to need volunteers. People plug in in so many ways here. It’s beautiful how things happen.
Patch: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Allert: This one. But this isn’t a profession, this is a passion.
Patch: Tell us about someone who had a strong influence on you, personally or professionally.
Allert: You know the story about the little boy who throws back the starfish. I was doing street outreach along Wilkins Avenue, working with the women. Always in that kind of work, there is one who gets in your heart. Her name was Heather. I do this for her. She’s my starfish.
Patch: What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
Allert: Enthusiasm, energy. I don’t always feel the energy, but other people say they do.
Patch: What about a weakness?
Allert: I’m not good at asking for money.
Patch: What is one of your unachieved professional goals?
Allert: We have a dream for creating a 200-seat amphitheater on the property. It would be our gift to the community, so we could do outdoor concerts, ceremonies, and theatre.
Patch: Tell us about your hobbies.
Allert: When I have a little time, I like to run. I’m a very good cook. Oh, and I love to go to auctions, any kind.
Patch: What is your favorite room in your house?
Allert: I live in Ellicott City on a 150-foot cliff, overlooking the Patapsco and facing Oella. And my best room is the wrap-around porch. It’s my coffee spot, well, coffee or cabernet, depending on the time of day.
Patch: Where is your favorite place in the world, other than home?
Allert: Italy. Yeah. I pretty much get off the plane and kiss the soil. My daughter says that I like old, broken stuff.
Patch: What is your favorite thing about Catonsville?
Allert: I would like to move to Catonsville. What I have fallen in love with is that Catonsville has kept the charming elements of a small town: concerts on Frederick Road, fireworks at the high school, support for the high school steel drum band. I love the guy with the white beard who picks up trash along Frederick Road every day at 8:00 a.m. It’s a town where people genuinely care about where they live.