This is not just the beginning of another ordinary academic year--it is the beginning of the university's 125th. So, to make it special, the Johns Hopkins 125th Anniversary Committee has been working since this time last year to organize convocations, parties and all sorts of special activities that celebrate Hopkins' storied past for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader community.
Perhaps one of the most exciting plans afoot is an enormous Hopkins employee volunteer and community outreach campaign called "125 Ways of Caring." The university and health system are asking each of the more than 40,000 Hopkins faculty and staff members, regardless of which campus they work on, to spend time volunteering in a community project.
"The goal is that every Hopkins faculty and staff member will get involved in some sort of community outreach project at least once throughout this anniversary year," says Christine White, assistant dean of medicine at the School of Medicine and co-chair of the 125th anniversary's subcommittee on Community Outreach and Staff Activities. "That could mean taking a day to volunteer for a neighborhood cleanup, painting a recreation center or participating in a drive to collect toys or food for the needy. People can work individually or as groups with their departments, whatever they want. We want to have at least 125 'ways of caring' take place over the course of the year, which we're pretty confident we can do."
White, who chairs the subcommittee with Marguerite "Meg" Sonneborn, executive assistant to the senior vice president for finance and administration, says the idea to create a universitywide year of employee outreach stemmed from a desire to make this anniversary, which is focused on celebrating Hopkins' history of contributions to humanity, a meaningful one for all the people who work at Hopkins.
"Meg and I were actually originally chairs of two different subcommittees--I was chair of Community Outreach, and Meg was chair of Staff Activities," White says. "As Meg's group started getting together, they decided that the thing that most people wanted was to get together as departments and groups and do something good. Volunteering together is good for morale, and it builds a sense of teamwork. It seemed a very fitting way to celebrate this special anniversary. So Meg's committee and my committee held a little merger."
Interested? Here's what to do.
Visit the 125 Ways of Caring Web site, www.jhu.edu/125th/volunteer/, to see what volunteer opportunities are already in place; more activities will be added to the list during the year. If you would like to participate in one or more of those events, call the project's coordinator and ask to be included.
If you would like to organize a volunteer project of your own, whether as an individual or a group, contact the 125 Ways of Caring representative for your university division; the names are listed on the Web site.
Can't think of what sort of volunteer project you want to do? Each month has been given a general theme, such as literacy, the environment or children and youth, and employees are encouraged to pick a project that falls within the context of that theme.
In addition to your divisional contact, the Office of Faculty, Staff & Retiree Programs at 410-516-6060 also will be available to answer any questions and advise Hopkins employees as they organize their events.
During the event, remember to take pictures, digital or print, and send them to your divisional contact so that a universitywide gallery can be created on the 125th anniversary Web site.
"We are very aware that there are so many wonderful community outreach and volunteer projects already going on in the Hopkins community," Sonneborn says. "We hope 125 Ways of Caring provides a means to highlight those good works. And we hope that in addition to those existing projects, people will identify new ones and have fun working on a volunteer project with their co-workers. We do hope that people get excited about 125 Ways of Caring and that it builds momentum over the course of year."
For more on the 125th anniversary of The Johns Hopkins University, log onto www.jhu.edu/125th/.