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More women are giving sizeable contributions to charity and shaping how they're used.
Spreading Their Wings
A new breed of philanthropist is sweeping the country, and Hopkins women who've joined the movement understand why.

If you want to stump Henri Banks, ask her to remember a time when she didn't volunteer.

"I've always been extremely involved in community service," says the assistant director of special projects in Hopkins Medicine's public affairs office. "If I didn't need to work and could just volunteer, that would be my life."

Giving is hardly something Banks does to be trendy (she once spent the sole dollar in her wallet on a cup of coffee for a homeless man). But a commitment she made last year has thrust her into the growing ranks of women nationwide who not only want to make substantial charitable contributions, but to target and shape how the contributons are used. As U.S women have increased their earning power, their monetary giving has increased as well. Furthermore, like Banks, they're not content merely to write a check or sign a pledge card. They want to roll up their sleeves.

Banks is a member of the United Way society called WINGS (for Women's Initiative Next Generation), women who pledge $1,000 or more to United Way of Central Maryland and join forces on a project to benefit a specific United Way agency. Last year, Banks and her WINGS colleagues refurbished five residential rooms at the YWCA on Franklin Street in Baltimore City. They picked the Y-which provides shelter to homeless women and families-after discussing which United Way agencies needed the kind of help they could give, how great their needs were, and who else was helping them. Then they put their professional heads together to raise $10,000 to fund the project.

"The quarters are cramped, the building is old. It's not like you're staying at the Sheraton," says Banks. "With the money we raised, we had floors repaired, tile replaced, walls painted. But we were very hands on, too. We decorated, we added shelving, rugs, mirrors, underbed storage-all the things we'd want if we were staying there. That's what brings clarity to your giving. I see this mother and child who are homeless. I see this Baltimore socialite whose husband beat her so terribly. These are women who used to have hope, who used to have dreams. It shows you how fragile life is. Those of us who continue to stand have an obligation to those who can't."

Laura Pearson Scheinberg agrees. "It's easy to just put $20 in the mail and turn the other cheek," says the young attorney with the labor and employment law firm Shawe & Rosenthal Associates. But Scheinberg, whose mother is Hopkins Hospital Executive Vice President Judy Reitz, grew up with a different example. At home, she saw her mother giving both time and- through United Way-money to causes she believes in, such as Marian House, which cares for homeless women referred by drug treatment centers, correctional agencies, psychiatric facilities, emergency shelters and domestic violence programs. Furthermore, Scheinberg noticed the same United Way spirit during the time she spent at Hopkins Hospital in Human Resources and Employee Relations: "You see the big United Way banner, you see the competition among departments over getting pledges."

So when Scheinberg turned to her mother for advice on the best way to increase her own level of giving, she wasn't really surprised when Reitz recommended United Way's WINGS. "This is where you see the end product," Scheinberg says. "This is where you see your donation in action. It's amazing to see the impact on people's lives."

-Mary Ann Ayd


To learn more about WINGS, log on to www.jhu.edu/~outreach/uway/wings.html.
For an online United Way pledge form, go to www.hopkinsmedicine.org/unitedway.

Discovered at a United Way Agency: Two New Hires


Tarsha Williams, left, and Danielle Adams honed their work habits at Civic Works. Now, they're part of Hopkins' security force.
Earlier this fall, several Hopkins leaders and their staffs paid calls on a number of United Way agencies to better understand how donations are put to use. Joe Coppola, Hopkins Medicine's vice president of Corporate Security, visited Civic Works, Baltimore's youth service corps. But he left with a lot more than just a notion of where the money goes: He came away, ultimately, with two new hires.

Civic Works, Baltimore's affiliate of Americorps, the youth services initiative launched in 1993 by President Clinton, was designed to put inner-city, young adults to work rebuilding their neighborhoods. Corps members typically are high-school dropouts who've had scrapes with the law. They study carpentry, construction, landscaping and more. Then, they fan out into more than 20 communities in Baltimore City and County, rehabilitating houses, transforming vacant lots into community parks and gardens, renovating playgrounds, planting trees and constructing recreation trails. Some tutor and mentor elementary school children. Corps members receive job training, a minimum wage, and when they complete the program, money for college or vocational school.

Coppola's field visit to Civic Works was an eye-opening, before-and-after experience. He saw two city lots: one vacant and desolate; the other, recently transfigured by corps members, leafy green. Later, when Corps members told what Civic Works meant to them, Coppola was even more impressed."They were hard-working and customer-friendly. One had a 95 percent attendance rate, and that speaks volumes in our business." Finding new employees for his security force was the last thing on his mind that day, but the corps members were in the job market, and, says Coppola, "they won us over."

Today, Danielle Adams and Tarsha Williams proudly wear the uniform of Hopkins' security force. So far, they've trained in various areas around the Hospital. Adams once had problems dealing with authority figures-"I didn't want anyone telling me what to do!"-but now, as a result of her Civic Works experience, she knows she can rely on her supervisors. "They're on my side," she says.

Coppola believes that Civic Works is one United Way agency that will be a source for workers. "The nicest thing of all," he says, "is that we'll be working with our community."

 

 

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