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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 15, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 3
United Way Day of Caring

SPSBE Dean Ralph Fessler shares a story.

Community is love and respect. We create and recreate the community each day." These words from St. Jerome's Head Start director Mary Gunning set the tone for the 12th annual JHU Day of Caring.

On Sept. 11, 18 volunteers from across the university organized play and learning activities for the 3- to 5-year-old preschoolers at St. Jerome's in south Baltimore. Volunteers read to the children; helped them create fingerpaint hand prints, pumpkin magnets, bookmarks and other crafts; and planted flowers outside the center. This experience gave participants a compelling close-up of Johns Hopkins' United Way contributions at work.

University United Way campaign chair and SPSBE Dean Ralph Fessler was a big hit with the children in the "reading corner."

"It was wonderful to experience firsthand the great work being done at St. Jerome's Head Start Program," Fessler said. "The children are curious and eager to learn, and the dedicated staff provide a stimulating and nurturing environment. I encourage everyone to see their United Way contributions at work in programs like this."

St. Jerome's provides a moving example of the difference United Way donations can make in people's lives. Due to a lack of funds, the center had to discontinue its infant and toddler program this fall and to cut its 10-hour days back to six hours. (It's now operating from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) The reduced hours, insufficient to cover many adult work schedules, forced a number of parents to pull their children from the program.

Besides providing a safe, loving and stimulating learning environment for the young pupils, St. Jerome's Head Start involves the entire family, requiring parents to participate actively and offering nutritional guidance, mental health support and GED classes for parents. Qualifying families receive all services without charge.

St. Jerome's depends heavily on volunteers, and Gunning expressed her appreciation to the Johns Hopkins Day of Caring group. "We could never fulfill our mission were it not for volunteers like you," she said.

JHU United Way Campaign administrator Judy Peregoff added, "It was extremely encouraging to see how much time and effort are put forth in helping the youth of our city have a head start in life. It would seem that this should be a priority for everyone everywhere."
—Barbara Wallace

A happy napper.

Photographer Jay VanRensselaer on
the other side of the lens.

An autumn wreath of smiling leaves.

A hand for Cora Mayenschein, of the Whiting
School of Engineering, who's applying fingerpaint.

Connie Pennington, of the School of Nursing,
helps with a craft project.

Photo by Photo Credit: HPS/JAY VAN RENSSELAER


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