Yasmene Mumby leaned from the stoop of a boarded-up
rowhouse on St. Paul Street and tried to peek into the
house's barred window. The 18-year-old said the house was
empty: "We're learning how one block can be totally
destroyed," she said, surprised to find an entire stretch
of dilapidated buildings.
Mumby, who grew up in Ellicott City, had never
ventured into the streets of Baltimore until Wednesday,
when she went out to survey the conditions of residences
for the Charles Village Community Benefits District.
She's one of 280 Johns Hopkins freshmen who
volunteered in the community Sept. 1 as part of the annual
freshman day of service, INVOLVED 2004. The students
participated in as many as 20 projects: They painted
bathrooms in Margaret Brent Elementary School, shelved
books at the Book Thing, sorted clothing at Adopt-A-Block
and weeded the back lot of the Village Learning Place.
"It's important to get the kids out in the
neighborhood," said Peter Duvall, the Charles Village
Community Benefits District housing coordinator, who helped
Mumby and two other freshmen survey homes on the outskirts
of Charles Village.
The day of service has undergone a name change and a
facelift since it was founded five years ago by a Hopkins
undergraduate. Now called INVOLVED, the service day seeks
to get freshmen engaged with community volunteer projects
for all four years of their education.
This year, most sites are within walking distance so
that students can continue to volunteer throughout the
year, said project coordinator and senior David McGovern.
At Hopkins, where many students never leave campus,
INVOLVED gets freshmen out in the community during their
first week of school.
"Immediately, frosh will be walking to places most
students don't go," said Matthew D'Agostino, assistant
director of the university's Center for Social Concern,
which oversees INVOLVED. He said the service day also helps
maintain good will between the community and the
university, even as far south as the People's Homesteading
Group on North Avenue.
There, a handful of Hopkins freshmen, wearing new
white "INVOLVED" T-shirts, painted two girls' bathrooms
"It's a good experience," said 18-year-old George
Stern of Japan, as he drew the paint roller across the
concrete walls. "You get to know what's around Hopkins."
The service day is organized around three themes:
awareness, action and reflection. Early Wednesday morning,
the freshmen assembled in front of Shriver Hall to learn
about the range of volunteer work. Then, after a day
working in the community, they came back to the
Bunting-Meyerhoff Interfaith Center to discuss what they
Many freshmen said INVOLVED helped convince them to
continue volunteer work after the day of service. Charles
Boyle, 18, of Anchorage, Alaska, said he'd like to continue
work in city schools. "This helped me be aware of what's
out there," he said of INVOLVED.
His resident adviser, senior Angela Yin, said it's
difficult for freshmen to learn independently about the
city without a day like INVOLVED. "It's hard for students
to get to know the city since they don't have the
transportation and they're nervous," she said. "This
dispels myths ... and hopefully they can see a lot of
places around campus do need some help."
That's what Michelle Brown, 17, of Melbourne, Fla.,
learned as she helped clear out the basement of the
homeless shelter Project PLASE, wearing a white face mask
over her mouth.
"We're learning that Baltimore needs help," she
Jessica Valdez, a senior, is an intern in
the Office of News and Information.