CLARENCE BOOKER heard the story secondhand: A family of four, evicted from its home in East Baltimore months prior, was able to rebound and find new housing. Booker says that while the family members were glad to have a roof over their heads again, that is about all they had. "They had no furniture, there were three kids in one bedroom, and they were all sleeping on the floor," says Booker, an addictions counselor at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Booker knew something had to be done. He told his wife about the family, and the two agreed to donate their son's bedroom set, which they could replace. Booker also arranged for the furniture's delivery and donated several bags of clothing to the family.
Booker's good samaritanship did not stop there, however. He next began to canvass furniture and clothing stores in East Baltimore, negotiating with owners, and sometimes begging them, for items for other needy persons. Now Booker organizes a clothing and furniture drive, often augmenting the collection with items he purchases himself. All the items he collects are donated to East Baltimoreans in need of help.
Booker says his efforts are all part of giving back.
A recovering addict now 14 years clean, Booker says, "In my lifetime, so many people prayed for me and helped me along my way, even those I pushed away. I came to realize that God truly wants us to give back and reach out and help our fellow man. If I see someone in need of help, I want to do my part."
As a deacon at the Zion Baptist Church, Booker brings food and medicine and serves communion to sick parishioners unable to leave their homes. He also mentors adolescents suffering with self-esteem- and substance-related problems and visits group homes and private residences of senior citizens to read and do their laundry and grocery shopping.
Booker 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). 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 employees of the university and hospital who best exemplify the spirit and citizenship that characterized King's life.
Nominees are evaluated by panels of faculty and staff at their institutions and then are recommended to the members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee, which selects the winners. A seven-member panel reviews the university nominations, and a four-member panel evaluates hospital nominees.
In making its decision, each panel looks at five criteria: how vital the project is to the well-being of the community; how well-received and well-supported the project is within the community; the impact of the person's participation on the overall project; the impact on the community; and the person's commitment to the activity or project.
GARY NOVAK will be given an award for his work coordinating the educational experiences of those participating in the Dunbar-Hopkins Health Partnership, a program that gives Dunbar High School students a taste of the real world of professional medicine. Novak, a research associate at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, arranges for the students to work in designated cancer research laboratories alongside leading scientists in the field. Specifically, Novak matches the students with the appropriate mentors; coordinates educational seminars featuring role models, typically African-American scientists; leads luncheons for students to discuss how to maximize their educational experience and to deal with any concerns; provides support and guidance regarding the formal presentations the students are required to give at Dunbar; and seeks out laboratory equipment and computers to support learning.
In nominating his colleague, Matthew Loscalzo, director of Patient and Family Services at the Kimmel Center, said that Novak has lofty expectations for the students.
"Gary frequently expresses that his aim is to have these same students come back as scientists to head up their own labs and to cure diseases that plague people-kind," Loscalzo said. "These are wonderful young people who need support and access, and Gary gives an entry to both. He is the bridge from talent and motivation to the dreams that only youth have."
LINDA DUNN is being honored for her "unrelenting and admirable" efforts to help the mentally ill in ways that transcend her job description. Dunn, a patient service coordinator in JHH's Community Psychiatry Department, has a more-than-30-year history in serving this often marginalized population.
In the nomination letter, a longtime co-worker told of Dunn's ability to form "special" relationships with every patient. "Her greatest gift to each of these people is the respect and friendship she offers," the nominator said. "They frequently come looking for her when they want to share joys and woes. She is never too busy to speak with people, no matter how disorganized the individual may be, and always finds something positive to praise in the patient's situation."
Beyond offering kind rapport, Dunn assembles care packages filled with clothing, food and personal hygiene supplies for patients. She solicits for and collects items all year, dispersing some 60 to 70 packages at holiday time. She also consoles and assists family members of those with acute or chronic mental illness.
Award-winner CHRISTINE GILLIARD, an associate teacher at the Parent Child Center at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, serves in multiple volunteer and leadership positions. At the Mount Carmel Baptist Church, where her husband is pastor, she serves as youth choir director, golden age choir director, Bible school teacher, youth counselor and homework support program director. Gilliard's youth choir, which started with just four participants, now features more than 100 voices.
Gilliard, who received a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Coppin State College, finds time away from the church to mentor young women, recently helping a homeless teen mother obtain housing and convincing her to continue her education. Gilliard also volunteers as an infant teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Early Head Start in Baltimore. She is currently studying child development at Baltimore City College.
KAY GLISAN is being recognized for her work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Glisan, a facilities services manager at the School of Medicine, co-chaired a fund-raising effort at JHM the past two years, helping to amass nearly $90,000. Glisan planned raffles, bake sales, the Baltimore Zoo Walk for a Cure and this year's Take a Pie for a Cure, an event where participants paid to hurl a pie in a willing victim's face.
Toby Gordon, vice president of planning and marketing for JHHS, wrote in her nomination letter that "Kay's work has not only raised important funds to advance the work being done to cure juvenile diabetes, but she has increased our sense of community as she strived to make us more aware of the importance of this work."
A graduate student in the Whiting School of Engineering, CHIRAG B. PATEL will be given an award primarily for his work with the Greater Homewood Community Corporation's ESOL program--English for Speakers of Other Languages. For the past four years, Patel has taught the program's beginner and advanced classes, which range in size from eight to 15 students, applying practical methods to help his students overcome their inhibitions of using a language that is foreign to them. When needed, Patel tutors one-on-one.
"Although his students are sometimes two to four times older than he, Chirag has gained their respect and admiration as a dedicated and resourceful teacher," said Weslie Wornom, assistant director of the Office of Community Relations and Volunteer Services, in her nomination letter. "He is mature beyond his years, and wants to share his time and talents to meet demonstrated community needs."
Last year Patel was selected by the ESOL program to spearhead its first satellite class, in which he currently teaches English to elderly Koreans. As president of Hopkins' Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Patel has encouraged large numbers of students to participate in community service activities. For Orientation 2000, Patel organized a service day in which more than 600 Homewood freshmen participated in 27 projects associated with community agencies throughout Baltimore.
LORETTA HOEPFNER, an administrative assistant in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the School of Medicine, has dedicated a sizable portion of her free time to activities associated with the American Lung Association of Maryland and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. For the American Lung Association, Hoepfner donates her time to planning and marketing various annual fund-raising events, including the Maryland Wine Festival Bike Tour and Chesapeake Bay Asthma Ride Bike Tour. In 2000, Hoepfner volunteered for the Big Ride Across America, a six-and-a-half-week trek from Seattle to Washington, D.C.
For the past six years, Hoepfner has assisted with many activities sponsored by the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, including Maryland's Race for the Cure, the BMW Drive for the Cure and the Wrap for the Cure. She also has provided education at multiple health fairs, including the Maryland Women's Exposition, Lilith Fair and Day of Caring. Hoepfner has served on the executive committee of the Komen Foundation's annual breast cancer symposium for the past four years and was chair of its 2001 event.