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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 21, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 31
Baltimore Alums Called to Community Service

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Johns Hopkins alumni are often asked to give back to the university. Now, a call has been made for them to give back to Baltimore.

On Saturday, local alumni will join current Johns Hopkins students and staff for the SOURCE Spring Tri-School Day of Service, a full slate of community service projects held across East Baltimore. The annual event, sponsored and run by the Johns Hopkins Student Outreach Resource Center, will kick off Hopkins Helps, a new community service endeavor that seeks to link alumni from all university divisions to one-time service opportunities in the city.

Hopkins Helps will initially be promoted to and organized by the Alumni Association's Baltimore Chapter, which serves the nearly 37,000 alumni living in the area. However, other alumni chapters could adopt the name for their own community service programs.

Lisa Kushner, a senior alumni relations coordinator and staff liaison of Hopkins Helps, said that alumni volunteer efforts are nothing new, but the Baltimore Chapter has never concentrated its efforts on community service like this before.

"We wanted to step it up to a whole new level," Kushner said. "We know that a lot of alums want to get involved and help out in the community. They also love student interaction, so we thought we'd first look at some ongoing student community service projects, like what SOURCE is doing, that would make the projects even more attractive."

Kushner said that the Alumni Association's Washington, D.C., Chapter has been a model for community service, and its efforts were part of the inspiration for Hopkins Helps. One successful partnership has been that chapter's work with Food and Friends, a program that prepares, packages and delivers meals and groceries to more than 1,400 people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses throughout the capital area.

For the Tri-School Day of Service, alumni will help sort, stamp and shelve books at the Baltimore Reads Book Bank, landscape a community garden with members of the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition and educate patients at the People's Community Health Centers on nutrition and exercise, as part of Diabetes Defense Day. Other project locations include the Baltimore American Indian Center, Parks and People, St. Francis Academy and Rayner Browne Elementary.

SOURCE, founded in 2005, provides academic, professional and personal development opportunities for members of the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Public Health through community outreach and service-learning partnerships with community-based organizations. The center coordinates community involvement activities--from a one-time park cleanup to an in-depth internship- -and functions as a clearinghouse through which community groups can request assistance. All of its events are open to faculty and staff.

Mindi Levin, director of SOURCE, said that Hopkins Helps can be a great way to improve communications between students and alums.

"Potentially, it can open up other opportunities for our students to be mentored by alums for experiential education, such as internships," Levin said.

Kushner said that the Baltimore chapter intends to offer Hopkins Helps projects once a month. "We first want to gauge the interest level, but we hope to make this a regular activity that we can promote in each monthly newsletter," she said.

The program plans to "piggyback" on existing student-focused community service projects and will steer away from fund-raising efforts, Kushner said. She foresees that alumni will also present their own volunteer service ideas.

In addition to helping the community, Kushner said, the program is yet another way for alumni to stay connected with former classmates, make new friends and mentor current students.

The Baltimore Chapter is currently organizing projects for May and June, with details to come. The events will be promoted on the Alumni Association's Web site, via e-mail and in a newsletter that goes out to all Baltimore area alumni.

For more information on Hopkins Helps and upcoming projects, go to:

Alumni interested in volunteering should contact Kushner at 410-516-0363 or


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