Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 1, 1995

Healing Hope:
Two Undergraduates Devote Weekends to Helping Troubled Youth

By Lisa Mastny
     For many of us, the weekend is a time to catch up on the
lost pleasures of childhood. 

     We go on picnics with our families.  We play mini-golf and
wreak havoc at the bowling alleys. We rent canoes and drift
aimlessly in the warm sun.

     And then it's back to work.  The two days of pleasure are,
for most of us, all but forgotten.

     But Young Kwak and Suzan Pae won't be forgetting their
weekends any time soon.  

     The state won't let them.

     At a special ceremony last Wednesday in honor of Volunteer
Recognition Week, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services
recognized the two Hopkins seniors for their devotion to their
weekend activity: keeping Baltimore City children out of trouble.

     For almost a year, Kwak and Pae have been the co-leaders of
Healing Hope, an entirely student-run initiative that seeks to
divert inner-city kids from their often harsh home environments. 
The Saturday program pairs approximately 10 Hopkins
undergraduates one-on-one with children on probation, combining
academic tutoring with educational or fun activities.

     "We wanted to expose the kids to things they have never had
the opportunity to do before," Kwak said.  "And they just love
it. By knowing the student mentors and going on the field trips,
many of them realize that there is more to life than hopelessness
and violent crime."

     Most of the 10 to 15 children involved in the program have
been referred to the Department of Juvenile Justice for minor
offenses such as truancy or shoplifting, while a few are on
probation for more severe crimes, including drug trafficking and
weapons possession.

     "Some of these kids are as hard core as you can get," Kwak
said. "It scared us at first, but then you realize that they are
really pretty much just like us, and you wonder how they ever got
into trouble in the first place. Some of them show real promise."

     Combining recreational activities with the more standard
academic tutoring offers the children a chance to interact with
Hopkins mentors as friends, and not just as students, Pae said.

     "When we started out, the kids were very suspicious and
distant," she said. "After a while, they started to open up, and
now they really enjoy coming back every week."

     Kwak and Pae picked up Healing Hope last summer after
Michelle Kim, a friend of theirs who started the program two
years ago, decided to study abroad. From Kim, they learned that
they could obtain funding for the project through the Alumni
Association's Community Service Internship Program, created in
1992 to expand alumni and student involvement in the communities
surrounding Hopkins.

     Each semester, the eight-member CSIP committee of alumni and
volunteers singles out a small number of student-initiated
community service projects on the basis of a demonstrated need,
ability and commitment to the community. 

     This year, the Alumni Association set aside more than
$22,000 for this purpose, earning the CSIP program a citation of
appreciation from Maryland's secretary for juvenile services
Stuart Simms.

     "We're very happy with the types of programs students have
come up with and are more than willing to help out," said Sharon
Hewitt, SAIS alumna and CSIP committee chair. "It is those alumni
who pay dues who provide the seed money for programs like these."

     In addition to youth development projects like Healing Hope,
student initiatives have ranged from providing services to the
HIV-positive and AIDS-infected community in Baltimore City to
running a biweekly exercise class for women at Rutland
Transitional Housing in an effort to increase fitness and build

     While individuals or groups from any of the eight university
divisions, graduates and undergraduates, are eligible for
funding, interested students must first undergo an extensive
application process which includes preparing a project budget
and, if applicable, soliciting a letter of acknowledgment from
the outside community organization sponsoring the project.

     Students must also meet with faculty, administrative or
alumni monitors, who discuss the feasibility of the proposed
projects and provide oversight once the initiatives have begun.

     "We give guidance to the projects by helping students with
sensitivity issues and familiarizing them with the often
unfamiliar urban environments and lifestyles," said Bill
Tiefenwerth, monitor for Healing Hope and the director of the
Office of Volunteer Services, which also received a certificate
of appreciation for the project from the state. "But aside from
the usual communication necessary for funding and feedback, the
initiatives are almost completely student-run and tend to act as
their own independent service agencies."

     "Bill Tiefenwerth gave us very good ideas and is just great
with resources," said Pae. "If it weren't for him and the Alumni
Association, we would never have gotten the award."

     In addition to providing students the opportunity to
volunteer in nearby communities, CSIP provides community service
organizations outside Hopkins with an important link to the
university and its resources.

     "Hopkins is the only area school that offers any kind of
reliable service for the Baltimore City at-risk youth," said
Salah Fatah of the Baltimore City Department of Juvenile
Services. "It's really a tremendous experience for our kids, to
have a wonderful institution like Hopkins getting involved
directly with their lives.  Many of them now talk about
long-range career goals, and some even want to go into careers in
law or medicine."

     For more information about the Community Service Internship
Program, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 516-0360.

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