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Amanda Paull

November 16, 2016
Feature Article for CommincAID

At 6 a.m. Suzanne J. McGraths alarm clock blares in her ear, a full day of work ahead of
her. Her head immediately rises from her mountain of pillows, she pulls back the thick
comforter, and heads to the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee. As she turns on the news on
her kitchen TV, she catches up what is happening in Baltimore. After a hearty breakfast of eggs
and a banana, McGrath heads back upstairs to get dressed for work.
This may seem like a normal day to anyone else, but to McGrath this is the 22nd
anniversary of the opening of her beloved homeless nonprofit, CommunicAID. This important
milestone also signifies another personal anniversary in the CommunicAIDs presidents life.
Today marks McGraths 30th anniversary of overcoming homelessness herself.
Suzanne Julia McGrath was born in Baltimore in 1954 to a drug-addicted mother and
father. Her father worked for a construction company, and her mother stayed at home to watch
Suzanne and her three younger siblings. In 1962 McGraths father was fired due to a workplace
accident caused by his drug-use, and the family fell into deep poverty. In 1964, when Suzanne
was only 10 years old, the McGrath family lost their small apartment in Baltimore and they were
forced to move from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. Suzanne and her siblings, having
never received proper education or support from her parents, were placed into Marylands Child
Protective Services in 1969 while her parents were sent to court-appointed drug rehabilitation.
During her time in Child Protective Services, McGrath completed high school and in
1972 McGrath was given a scholarship to Central College in Baltimore with strong letters of

recommendation from her teachers about her work ethic and determination. After only three
years, McGrath graduated with a degree in social work.
I grew up without ever thinking I would even complete high school, so this
accomplishment of finishing college is a huge milestone in my life, said McGrath. I saw all my
hardships coming together to motivate me to become a better person.
After college, McGrath rented temporary housing and found small jobs working as a
waitress and as a barista at a local coffee shop. After landing an office job as a secretary at a local
nonprofit womens shelter in 1986, McGrath bought her own apartment with her money saved
up. This was her final step to overcoming a lifetime of homelessness, and in honor of this
accomplishment she decided she needed to do more with her life.
McGrath decided to organize a team of people from her graduating class as well as
people who worked at the womens shelter in Baltimore to lobby to fund a new homeless shelter.
Their work soon turned into a full-grown community effort to create a nonprofit that would
create a transitional program for homeless people to find work and housing in order to grow into
a more traditional lifestyle.
In 1991, CommunicAID was officially up and running, and Suzanne McGrath was the
proud president.
Only 22 short years later, CommunicAID has 7 food banks, 5 food pantries, 10 shelters,
and 23 Baltimore nonprofit partnerships. CommunicAID has helped 322 families overcome
hunger in 2016, 3,007 participants in the transitional program have been placed into homes,
4,824 participants in the transitional program have been placed into jobs, and overall Baltimores
homelessness population has been reduced by 18 percent.

These massive improvements to thousands of lives in Baltimore have all stemmed from
McGraths hardships in her past.
I feel that my life has finally found a purpose and I am doing something that is very
personal for me, said McGrath. I try to run CommunicAID with my background in mind and
seeing my efforts work on real people fills me with so much happiness.
To learn more about CommunicAID, or to make a donation, go to