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A Mom’s Dream Come True: JHU’s WORKlife

This Mother’s Day, Jackie Shaw, pictured here with her mother, Julia Fisher, at the piano, can thank WORKlife for referring her to a caregivers’ support group.

On Mother’s Day, like all other days, Jackie Shaw will look after her mother. For the past six years, Shaw, a supervisor budget analyst in the Department of Neuroscience, has been caring for her 87-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Shortly after taking on the caregiver role, Shaw noticed a listing for elder-care services in a brochure put out by the University’s WORKlife Programs.

Ellen Walderman, WORKlife’s elder-care program manager, helped Shaw find a lawyer who put together a will for her mother and paperwork giving Shaw power of attorney. She also invited Shaw to a monthly support group for employees who care for ill family members.

“Sometimes the most valuable thing is just to have a listening ear,” Shaw says. “Most people don’t understand that at times, with her repeated questions, it can be kind of crazy. She remembers lots about the past, but she has no memory of the present.”

The elder-care service is just one of many free services offered by WORKlife Programs, a division of JHU Human Resources that helps University and Hospital/Health System employees balance their professional and personal lives. There is no better time than May, the month of Mother’s Day, to take note of WORKlife, for it can play a particularly significant role in easing the myriad demands surrounding the institution of motherhood.

With a robust menu of child care services—resources for day care, information on nannies and au pairs, emergency child care and more—WORKlife is a mom’s dream come true. JHU mothers may not have known it, but last year they had a special advocate in WORKlife when the office lobbied for a new day care center in the community.

Early surveys for the new Weinberg YMCA at Stadium Place, located across 33rd Street from the Eastern campus, had indicated no need for a child care center. WORKlife thought otherwise. The office stepped in and convinced project developers of the demand. Johns Hopkins provided some capital funds, and the child care center, with 50 of the 92 spots reserved for children of full-time JHU faculty and staff, opened in September.

For employees in search of child care, WORKlife does much more than simply hand out a pre-printed list of vendors. Instead, says Kathleen Beauchesne, WORKlife director and one of the forces behind the program’s launch in the mid-1990s, staff spend time talking with employees about their concerns and needs, then call around to local providers that fit the bill to see where the openings are. The office helps employees in lower-income jobs with child care vouchers and tax credits and provides parents with up to five emergency child care arrangements at a discount. It counsels employees on how to request more flexible work arrangements.

Other services offered by WORKlife include a relocation assistance program for newly hired employees, financial planning seminars, and educational and retirement workshops. The staff also manages the Live Near Your Work program, which provides employees who purchase homes in certain neighborhoods near JHU campuses the opportunity to receive cash grants.

It’s no surprise: WORKlife programs were cited among the reasons that Baltimore magazine recently chose Johns Hopkins as one of the city’s top 27 employers.

—Karen Blum

WORKlife is located at Johns Hopkins at Eastern, 1101 E. 33rd St., Suite C100.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Info: 443-997-6605,



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