Eighteen years ago, a friend asked Ian H. Neuman to attend a board of directors meeting of the South Baltimore Learning Center. Little did Neuman know that he would develop a deep and enduring passion for the organization, which provides adult literacy, life-training and workforce development services to educationally disadvantaged adults living in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
In fact, Neuman’s contribution to the 25-year-old community nonprofit has been so significant that the SBLC will honor him on Apr. 29 at its 2017 Gala at Horseshoe Casino.
Neuman, who currently serves as SBLC’s president, plans to accept the honor on behalf of his entire family.
“My job is helping as many people as I can before I leave this world,” said Neuman, 67, a Federal Hill resident who belongs to Pikesville’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation.
Neuman, a real estate developer and owner of the Pigtown development project Gaslight Square, volunteers and donates his resources and time to many organizations. But he said his affinity for the SBLC’s mission is especially personal.
Neuman remembers his own challenges with reading, and said those childhood experiences help him to relate to those who are unable to graduate from high school. Through his work with the SBLC, Neuman helps people of all ages earn high school diplomas and find employment opportunities.
He said the best advocates for the SBLC are the learners who succeed in the program and make significant changes in their lives. Neuman said he is happy to know that he helped them get to where they are, and he enjoys working closely with the SBLC staff and lay leadership.
“I let them do their thing and I don’t get in their way,” he said.
Over the years, Neuman has filled many positions on the SBLC board, including building committee chair, fundraiser, treasurer, vice president, gala chair, and development and finance chair.
All told, he said he and his family have logged more than 11,000 volunteer hours and donated more than $50,000 to SBLC.
“We help people better their lives,” Neuman said. “That’s what the Neuman family does. It’s what I am and who we are.”
Neuman was also a major force behind the renovation of SBLC’s physical complex, according to Tanya Terrell, the organization’s executive director. She said Neuman was instrumental in the transformation of the SBLC’s Federal Hill campus from an old police station to a cheerful, four-story learning center.
“He’s just been an amazing keeper of our facility and he is involved at so many levels.,” said Terrell, adding that Neuman has been integral in recruiting other lay leaders to the organization.
In addition to volunteering for SBLC, Neuman is a member of the board of Civic Works, the advisory board of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, and vice president of Carroll Camden Business Association.
The Neuman family also established the Nelson Neuman Kiddush Fund at Beth Tfiloh to ensure that the synagogue holds a kiddush every Shabbat and on Jewish holidays.
The SBLC 2017 Gala will take place on Saturday, Apr. 29, at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, 1525 Russell St. For information, call 410-625-4215 or visit southbaltimorelearns.org .
Photo of Ian Neuman (left) with WBFF-TV meteorologist Vytas Reid.
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