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The Caroline Center Has It Covered
Your United Way contributions enrich the community where you work

Sheree Fuqua and Gwendolyn Simms begin the Weinberg lobby chair makeover.

Sewing machines are whirring and scissors are slicing through big bolts of fabric in the old Diamond Press Building at 1212 N. Wolfe St. Against one wall, sofas and chairs—some stripped down to the bare bones—await attention. At the cutting tables, long strips of teal green Naugahyde stand ready to be stitched together. Soon they’ll cover the 12-foot-long cushions from none other than The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s legendary Hurd Hall.

The upholstery operation is part of Caroline Center, a job-training organization for unemployed women. It’s one of a number of small, East Baltimore nonprofits that Johns Hopkins partners with, often to help fill critical jobs.

Lately, though, Hopkins has turned to Caroline Center to fill another surprising need: upholstery. So far, the women of Caroline Center have changed 47 waiting room chairs in the hospital’s Emergency Department from blue to green. After they finish with Hurd Hall, they’ll tackle the Billings lobby. Then they’ll spruce up the purple chairs in the lobby of Weinberg. 

“They do a beautiful job,” says Bob Kuhn, assistant director of facilities at Hopkins Hospital.

Sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and located on Somerset Street, Caroline Center runs 15-week specialized programs that train women to become child care providers, pharmacy techs, nursing assistants and clinical associates. To date, approximately 70 Caroline Center “alumnae” have found their first jobs at Hopkins Hospital or Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Launched five years ago, the upholstery program has blossomed into a self-supporting business.

Participants begin in a 15-week training program, then become apprentices and finally full-fledged upholsterers. “It takes about three years to learn the trade and be an upholsterer,” says Ann Cunningham, manager of Caroline Center Upholstery. 

CCU receives commissions from residential and commercial customers who hear of it by word of mouth. Another East Baltimore nonprofit, Christopher Place, a job-training program for formerly homeless men, trucks the furniture back and forth. “It’s a nice relationship,” says Cunningham. “The men are proud to be doing something useful, and the women enjoy it when they come over.”

Employees can play a vital role in supporting nonprofits like Caroline Center and others in East Baltimore through donations to United Way of Central Maryland. Contributions to these organizations, which people literally drive past every day on their way to work, are not going to strangers after all, but to the very community in which they work.

Christine Werthman with Anne Bennett Swingle

United Way Campaign
East Baltimore, Oct. 9–20
What: Free Hot Dog Lunches*
When: Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Thursday, Oct. 19, noon to 1:30 p.m.
Where: Turner Plaza

What To Know
› You can give to any local health and human service nonprofit agency of your choice.
› Some fall under United Way’s “Community Safety Net,” a network of about 100 human service agencies.
› Others are outside the safety net and must be “designated” by writing in the name and address on your donation form.
› Designated gifts must be at least $50.

*Your completed campaign pledge form is your admission ticket.



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