Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 8, 1995

Hopkins Joins Community Effort to Open Safe and Smart Center

By Lisa Mastny

     Three years ago, when Matt Boulay founded Teach Baltimore as
a pet tutorial project out of the Hopkins Office of Volunteer
Services, he wasn't sure it would even get off the ground.

     Now, eager volunteers from five different universities in
the area apply for tutoring positions. 

     The more than 200 local students enrolled in the program
pass the state exams at rates double those of their classmates
who do not attend.

     And the program has finally found a permanent home--now that
the new Safe and Smart Center is open for business.

     Located at 3333 Greenmount Avenue on the site of the former
China Palace restaurant, the newly renovated, glass-front
facility will serve as a community resource center, providing
low-cost or no-cost services, as well as educational and
enrichment activities, to the neighboring communities of Greater

     The project reflects a joint effort by the Office of
Volunteer Services, the Greater Homewood Community Corporation
and the Baltimore City Police Department Northern District to
launch a grass-roots community service initiative in greater

     "I really wanted to set up a low-cost, street-level
operation in the communities we partner with and serve," said
Tiefenwerth, director of the Hopkins Office of Volunteer Services
and the driving force behind the center. "When I heard that
Greater Homewood wanted a base for their neighborhood walkers
program, and that the police wanted to create a kiosk/resource
facility to provide information about personal safety issues, we
all decided to join together out of mutual interest and work from
the same building."

     In addition to housing the Neighborhood Walkers in Greater
Homewood and the Northern District Neighborhood Safety Office,
the center will serve as a hub for the many community-based
educational projects involving Hopkins students, such as Teach
Baltimore's A+ program and the Office of Volunteer Services'
Summer Pre-Reading Tutorial Project.

     "Hopkins Volunteer Services' main thrust with this center is
in providing educational services, which we have a long history
of doing," Tiefenwerth said. "We always wanted an opportunity for
students to volunteer not just on campus, but also directly in
the community. This way, Hopkins can be a continued presence for
more than just a few hours a day."

     The new center will also be a more convenient meeting point
for younger children enrolled in the summer tutorial projects,
Tiefenwerth said.

     "It was hard for some of the parents to bring their
kindergarten-age kids all the way to campus," he said. "This
location will be much more accessible and safer for them."

     The Safe and Smart Center will also serve as a permanent
location for receptions, teacher training sessions and some
classroom instruction for Teach Baltimore, said Boulay. 

     "Teach Baltimore is really the anchor program at the new
center, but our agenda is open for any new projects the community
might be looking for," Boulay said. "Right now, we're also doing
a photojournalism project with Venable High School students and a
Computers for Young Engineers Project with kids at Barclay

     Tiefenwerth also hopes eventually to build a neighborhood
playground in the neglected back lot of the center, complete with
hopscotch grids and a community barbecue.

     "We want the community to see that this is really a
neighborhood resource, not a Hopkins resource," he said. "The
Safe and Smart Center has only been open since last month and is
in a listening-post mode. As guests of the community, we're
genuinely interested in what the people living in the area want
to see there."

     Since the center opened its doors in early April, the
response from the community has been extremely positive, Boulay

     "We've had really high visibility," he said. "A lot of
people have come in wondering what the center was about and left
us a lot of information about what they want. Just last week, the
chair of a community organization came in concerned about a
church closing, saying there was nowhere left for the local Cub
Scout troop to meet. We told him they could store their stuff in
the basement and meet here."

     While Hopkins holds the lease for the building and provides
the people-power for numerous projects, the Baltimore City
Department of Housing and Community Development pays the annual
rent for the new Safe and Smart Center. The city has also
established Mayor's Hub Center #12 at the site, one of several
citizen stations throughout the city serving as an entr‚e for
citizens into city agencies.

     "We are delighted that the city is an active part of this
too, beyond just the funding operations," Tiefenwerth said.
"Mayor Schmoke was enthusiastic about the center when I first
presented the proposal to him, and he had a real hand in
promoting the idea."

     On May 24, the facility will be honored by the Neighborhood
Design Center at a benefit to highlight neighborhood-based
projects that bring life back to the city's streets, parks and
civic space.

     "The center is definitely a success," Boulay said. "We want
to say to Hopkins students, and to everyone else, that Greenmount
is a safe and interesting place. We want to encourage them to
come out and enjoy the restaurants, bookstores, and five and
dimes in the area."

     The official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Safe and Smart
Center will be held Saturday, May 20, at 10 a.m. at 3333
Greenmount Ave. For more information, contact the center at

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