Montaz Young ran out of hope long before she reached her 30th birthday.
A recovering addict, she was raising four kids alone in East Baltimore
on a meager welfare check. Then she noticed a flier in the social services
office for WorkMatters, a Civic Works program that helps Baltimore City
residents get off of welfare and into steady employment and is funded
by federal grants and the United Way.
After a few halting starts, Young tackled Civic Works' job training
sessions, mock interviews, and community service requirements. She learned
to look people in the eye and work as a team player. Two months later,
Civic Works placed Young in an entry-level internship position as an
environmental services worker at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was
thrilled to be hired permanently and then promoted three months later
to support associate, assisting the nurses on Halsted 5.
That was two years ago. Young, now 32, has been accepted in the hospital's
STEP program to train as a surgical tech. Eventually, she wants to become
a nurse. "I tried to work at Hopkins so many times but was always
turned down for lack of experience," she says. "I'm so grateful
I had people who saw something in me and gave me a chance. My future
looks real good now."
Civic Works placed 83 people at Hopkins Hospital last year, filling
essential positions such as data entry clerks; clinical, support and
clerical associates; radiology file clerks; and environmental and food
service workers. It is one of several key agencies, all funded by United
Way, that the hospital, through its Department of Human Resources, partners
with in order to build its workforce while providing jobs to those from
These organizations help remove barriers to employment, such as lack
of child care, computer skills or general life skills. To those that
qualify, the hospital then provides a steady job, further training and,
subsequently, a variety of educational programs like STEP (see Quick
Studies, above) so that these employees can build careers. All told,
165 people were hired last year through these United Way workforce development
Last year, Johns Hopkins Medicine employees contributed $1.1 million
to United Way (which constitutes nearly 3 percent of all contributions
in Maryland). The amount was the highest ever, but participation was
hugely disproportionate. In the School of Medicine, for example, 56
percent of the housekeeping staff contributed, but only 19 percent of
the faculty did. Martin Abeloff, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center
and chairman of this year's campaign, says the disparity most likely
stems from proximity: "Our environmental services group tends to
see more directly what the United Way does for people. No other charity
has such a profound effect on our local communities."
Young agrees. She says that since she started at Hopkins, many of her
friends and neighbors have been asking her how she got a job here, and
how they could, too.