During his tour of duty in Vietnam, Odis "O.D." Lewis (pictured at right) witnessed all manner of human horror, from the pain of suffering of the Vietnamese people to the tragic deaths of soldiers in their teens. These ghastly images of war had a lasting effect on this self-described country boy from Texas: Upon his return to the States, Lewis decided to dedicate himself to preserving life and assisting his fellow man.
"Just being able to survive that experience was a message that I had to start giving back to the community," says Lewis, a psychiatric nurse at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. "Since then, that has been the way I have lived my life."
Lewis, a retired Army major, is one of seven employees chosen this year as winners of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards, which will be presented at Friday's commemoration (see story above). The awards are intended to honor the memory and work of Martin Luther King Jr., not only a champion of civil rights but a citizen who advocated community volunteerism. These community service awards are presented to faculty and staff members who best exemplify the spirit and citizenship that characterized King's life.
When Lewis is not caring for patients, he can be found mentoring disadvantaged youths, bringing medicine to the elderly, volunteering for the American Red Cross or working with adolescents at the Laurel Boys and Girls Club. In 1998, he established a clothing drive for homeless and drug-dependent patients at the hospital. Lewis also contributed funds to sponsor a barber shop in West Baltimore, which continues to teach barbering and hair styling to inner city youth.
In nominating his colleague, Devon Blackwood, an interventionist in the hospital's Department of Alcoholism Counseling, said "Lewis' unending efforts, compassion and ability to continuously 'squeeze' in a new activity is the epitome of how one man's efforts bring memorable benefits to the lives of others."
Lewis says he is honored to win an award that bears the name of a man he so admires.
"This Martin Luther King celebration and award mean that the dream is still alive," Lewis says.
Carolyn "Lindy" Lord is being honored, in part, for her commitment to the Wald Clinic at Rutland, a health clinic opened by the School of Nursing to provide service to the area's uninsured residents and those unable to access health services in a timely fashion. For the past year, Lord, a senior clinical coordinator in Pediatrics-Endocrinology at the School of Medicine, has volunteered at the Wald Clinic on a weekly basis, bringing in books, toys, clothes and school supplies for the children, and recycled medical supplies for adult home use.
Lord also utilizes her background as a registered nurse to assist in patient care at the clinic. In particular, Lord has played a pivotal role in the lives of a family of five, a mother and four children, whom she met at the clinic. Her efforts of assistance include arranging private school admission for the children, helping them to obtain scholarships, attending their school plays and being a role model for their mother, who is in recovery from drug addiction.
Hugh Cahill, another award winner, has been a role model to those in Boy Scout troop 5001 in East Baltimore, a troop Cahill founded. Cahill, a research data assistant and lab technician in SOM's Otolaryngology Department, has in his troop 30 boys, most of whom come from economically disadvantaged homes. Once a month Cahill takes the boys on an organized outing, such as a day hike or fishing trip. In order to pay for their equipment, Cahill has engaged the boys in fund-raising efforts such as car washes. In the spring and fall, the troop holds a community service day where they engage in a cleanup campaign of a particular East Baltimore neighborhood. A hockey enthusiast, Cahill also volunteers at the Baltimore Youth Hockey Clinic, coaching children 4 to 7 years of age.
Award winner David Thomas, an associate professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine, is an active member of the New Song Community Church in the Sandtown neighborhood. In 1991, he started a weekly clinic in the basement of the church in response to the medical problems of area residents and their barriers to accessing health care. Thomas worked two days a week at the clinic for five years, while also laboring to raise funds for a more permanent home for the facility. In 1996, his dreams were realized when the doors opened on the New Song Family Health Center, located at 1300 N. Fulton Ave. The facility is open five days a week and has received more than 5,000 patient visits each year of its existence. In addition to volunteering at the clinic, Thomas serves as chairman of the board, providing leadership and direction to the growing facility.
A nurse clinician II at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Yvette Maria Scott will be given an award for her work as co-director of Camp Sunrise for children with cancer. Scott's responsibilities at the camp, where she has volunteered for nine years, include selecting the campers and coordinating their schedules. An active member of the Emmanual Christian Community Church, Scott attends to sick members during services and teaches CPR classes for interested members and community parents.
Robert McEwan is to be recognized for his work creating MEDBANK of Maryland Inc., an agency that locates underinsured and uninsured citizens with chronic illness and connects them with free pharmacy assistance by providing volunteers to fill out the paperwork and interface with physicians. Prior to MEDBANK's founding, many patients had to make choices between buying food, heat for their homes and medications. MEDBANK currently serves patients in Baltimore City and County, and plans are to take the program statewide in July. McEwan, administrative director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center, serves as president and board chairman of MEDBANK of Maryland Inc.
Adrian Mosley, an administrator in the JHHS Office of Community Health, is a supporter of St. Bernadine's Catholic School, which serves nearly 300 children from grades pre-K to eight. For the past four years, Mosley has been the school board's chair, serving as the school's primary fund-raiser and grant writer. Mosley has led "hands-on" activities to refurbish the school's facilities and establish a clinic to provide health services to the children of St. Bernadine, located in an impoverished section of Baltimore. As a lay minister, Mosley also visits the sick and shut-ins of her parish and, together with her husband, Berkley, offers premarital counseling to couples seeking to be married in the Catholic Church.