CityFam on Service and Community Building

Incubate Baltimore member CityFam is on a mission to connect people with purpose. CityFam is a 501(c)(3) organization, and according to founder Rob Kowalski, they’re all about bringing people together to create genuine communities.

Before CityFam, Kowalski was a nightclub promoter who found himself making poor choices. He was a part of social groups that turned him into a person he didn’t like.

“I felt empty, like there was more I could be doing with my life,” Kowalski said. “So without any plans whatsoever, I dropped out of the scene and started looking for ways to move in a more positive direction.”

He started attending church, but he felt like he didn’t fit in with that crowd, just like he didn’t fit in with his old friends. Kowalski found himself staying in most weekends or going to the movies to avoid trouble.

“When you’re doing the right thing, life can get very boring,” Kowalski said. “Eventually I got lonely, and I started going back to the bars because I just wanted to be around people again and have a social life. I wound up picking up a lot of my old bad bad habits in the process.”

In 2011, when he decided to get sober, Kowalski again found himself staying in on the weekends. He started promoting social events that, as he describes, were “fun without regrets.”

Kowalski also started volunteering in Baltimore, recognizing a deep desire to make a positive contribution. Putting his newfound love of socializing and volunteering together, Kowalski started CityFam, an organization that helps members to meet others while also serving their community.

“When people volunteer, they become different, better people,” Kowalski said. “I used to create problems, but now I fix them. I’ve learned that you can’t force people to volunteer. You need to show them that a community of like-minded people exists first. Then, when they feel like they’re a part of that community, they’ll start volunteering because it’s so easy and rewarding. That’s why we do social events where we meet people, then we work on bridging that social aspect with service.”

In August of this year, CityFam will be taking their fifth international trip to Honduras with 30 of their members. Their service events are getting bigger, and they’re looking to get more sponsors. They’ve recently expanded into D.C. and Philadelphia, and their goal is to become a movement nationwide.

As an outcome of their recent strategic planning, they’ve created membership levels for people who want extra perks. “We’re not telling you that you can’t drink, or that you can’t do anything for that matter,” Kowalski said. “By joining CityFam, you get community and healthy relationships. I’ve noticed that it’s when those key factors are missing that people act out.”

CityFam recently became an Incubate Baltimore member, and Kowalski said that he wishes he would’ve come to the ETC sooner. “I love it here. The ETC helped us make so many great connections, and we’re looking forward to leveraging those relationships in the future.”

To see what CityFam events are coming up, visit their website here.