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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 19, 2005 | Vol. 35 No. 3
Campaign's Impact, Close to JHU

15 nearby services are among those that benefit from gifts

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Funds donated to the Central Maryland United Way campaign not only help keep alive a large umbrella of affiliated services throughout the region; a significant portion of the money goes directly to agencies right in Johns Hopkins' own backyard, many of them organizations with which university employees are intimately involved.

The immediate areas surrounding the Homewood and Johns Hopkins at Eastern campuses — which officially begin their 2005 United Way campaign this week — are home to 15 United Way-affiliated agencies that help address the community's human service needs.

Salem Reiner, the university's director of community affairs, said these agencies deliver a wide array of critical services for the community, including literacy training, youth development and assistance to homeless adults and children.

"These organizations play truly important roles in enhancing the vitality of the area by serving the fundamental needs of a wide range of individuals, as well as tackling basic neighborhood-level issues," Reiner said. "The actions of these organizations directly benefit us all, during the time that we spend at Homewood and beyond."

Johns Hopkins is directly involved with a number of these neighboring agencies, including the Greater Homewood Community Corp., the Village Learning Place and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA at Stadium Place, whether it be through cash contributions, board membership, technical assistance or volunteer support.

Founded in 1969, the Greater Home-wood Community Corp. is a nonprofit organization that serves north-central Baltimore. Its mission is to strengthen neighborhoods by improving education, supporting youth development and advancing economic development and community revitalization.

The organization, which caters to the needs of nearly 68,000 residents living in 40 neighborhoods, currently has three JHU affiliates on its board of directors — Michael Beer, professor emeritus of biophysics; Beth Felder, director of federal relations; and Frederick Savage, acting vice president and general counsel. Its borders stretch from North Avenue to the south and the city/county line to the north, and from the Jones Falls River to the west and York Road to the east.

From its inception, GHCC has focused on improving the quality of life for people living in Greater Homewood. Currently, its activities fall into six major categories: adult literacy and English as a second language, public education, youth development, economic development and housing, neighborhood outreach, and community meeting facilitation. Specifically, GHCC assists community associations in increasing leadership capacity, mobilizing citizen involvement and developing special projects.

Another United Way agency closely affiliated with Johns Hopkins is the Village Learning Place, a community library and learning center that provides free access to information, resources and educational programs to promote literacy, cultural awareness and lifelong learning. Located in the heart of Charles Village on St. Paul Street, the Village Learning Place opened in early 2000 and now has a collection of 14,000 books and more than 3,300 active card-holding members.

Staff members from the Center for Social Concern, the Milton S. Eisenhower Library and the Center for Talented Youth played an active role in the development of the library, which replaced a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library that closed after 101 years of continuous service in September 1997.

The next month, residents, educators, business owners and service providers formed a coalition to restore the building and reopen it as a community-based library and learning center. Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the Center for Social Concern, was a founding member of the organization's board of directors and a champion of the VLP's creation. Presently, Kelly Amabile, assistant director for development research, serves on the VLP board.

Today, the facility consists of a full library, a learning center, a community technology center, classrooms and an educational garden. A state-aided educational institution, the VLP offers a variety of free educational and enrichment programs.

Located just a stone's throw from the Johns Hopkins at Eastern campus, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg YMCA at Stadium Place works collaboratively with other area organizations to provide programs that meet the community needs for wellness, youth and senior programming. Located on East 33rd Street on the former site of Memorial Stadium, the 54,000-square-foot facility includes a swimming pool, gymnasium, multipurpose and meeting rooms, wellness center, child-care center, teen programming areas and indoor and outdoor play areas, including a community playground.

The facility's child-care center was made partially possible by a commitment of funds and support from Johns Hopkins and Union Memorial Hospital, both of whose employees use the center. Meg Sonneborn, deputy to the senior vice president for finance and administration, currently serves on the branch's board of directors.

The other United Way agencies in close proximity to Homewood and Johns Hopkins at Eastern are the Baltimore Child Abuse Center; Baltimore Neighborhoods; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Maryland; Boy Scouts of America, Baltimore Area Council; Catholic Charities; the Family Tree; the House of Ruth, Maryland; Marian House; Mental Health Association of Maryland; Prisoners Aid Association of Maryland; Project PLASE; and the Women's Housing Coalition.

Reiner said that, in this time of giving, it's important to remember that donating to the United Way of Central Maryland campaign has a direct and positive effect on the community surrounding the university's campuses.

"These organizations function as a safety net, delivering services that improve self-sufficiency of individuals, and enhancing the quality of the community as a whole," he said.

The university's 2005 drive for the United Way of Central Maryland begins officially with a kickoff event at noon on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Homewood's Shriver Hall. Separate launches will be held on other campuses. For more information on Hopkins' United Way campaign, including how to donate online, go to

In its Oct. 10 issue, The Gazette will focus on United Way-affiliated agencies in the East Baltimore community.


From the Local United Way Chair Regarding Katrina and Our Own Community's Needs

As the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina continues to unfold, we are all looking for ways to help the victims of this disaster. And if you are like me, you're struggling with giving much-needed assistance to the hurricane relief efforts while continuing to support the human service needs here at home. Somehow we must find a way to support the need on both fronts.

You should know that our local United Way donations are already at work in the Southeast. Over the last five years, we have allocated almost $15 million to the local American Red Cross and Salvation Army chapters, who are on the ground in the Gulf Coast states right now.

Moreover, United Way of Central Maryland is sponsoring trained volunteers headed for the Gulf Coast to provide hands-on assistance to the victims.

Here in Central Maryland, United Way has convened a group of leaders to draft a plan for Katrina's victims who come to our area. Leaders from government, human service agencies and foundations are working to make sure services are delivered smoothly and efficiently.

United Way of Central Maryland is earmarking $100,000 to hurricane relief efforts, half of which is being used to establish a Regional Emergency Response Fund. The fund will support frontline nonprofits called upon to provide assistance to Gulf Coast residents seeking shelter and assistance in Central Maryland.

The homeless, the uninsured, the hungry, the sick and the elderly of Central Maryland need our local United Way and its agencies day in and day out. It is critical in the wake of the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina that we also continue to remember our neighbors who need help.

Your concern and caring for our fellow Americans is a large part of what makes United Way and our nation unique. Thank you in advance for your generosity in supporting people in the Gulf Coast crisis, and for your continued support of United Way year-round.

James B. Sellinger
Vice president, technical sales support,
IBM Americas
Campaign chair,
2005 United Way of Central Maryland


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