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Live United in 2008
During the economic downturn, workplace giving is as important as ever.

blank Hopkins' WIPES campaign
Deborah Stewart, in pink shirt, "having a bowl" with Girl Scouts Jessica Dietrick, Lisa Williams and Rachel Eibling.

It’s been three years since Susan Franklin, her husband, Paul Dash, and daughter fled the wrath of Hurricane Katrina with the clothes on their backs. Last month’s deadly storms that lashed the Gulf Coast revived painful memories of the catastrophe but also reminded the former New Orleans nurse that it was a United Way-funded organization that delivered the support her family needed to begin their new lives in the Baltimore area.

Their lifeline was a United Way volunteer and fireman who gave the couple and 15 others a ride in his truck to Lafayette, La., airline tickets to Baltimore purchased by her mother and a $1,500 debit card provided by the American Red Cross for clothes, food and other necessities.

“The Red Cross did some amazing things,” recalls Franklin, Hopkins Hospital’s director of regulatory affairs and a former United Way captain at the 200-bed New Orleans hospital where she worked. “I don’t know what we would have done without some sort of charity.”

Franklin and Dash, a Hopkins neurologist, are part of a cadre of faculty and staff preparing to rev up support for Johns Hopkins Medicine’s United Way campaign, which begins Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 24. “I so believe in the United Way,” says Franklin. “It’s a great way to be assured that what you’re giving reaches the people who need it.”

Joanne Pollak, campaign chair, says she is cautiously optimistic that Hopkins will meet its 2008 goal of $1.48 million, a 10 percent increase over last year. The committee is organizing various meetings to energize potential donors and arming its 50 or so department coordinators and team captains with information to show employees how their contributions can make a difference.

To get that message out, the institution will look to faculty and staff such as Franklin and Dash to share their personal stories about how they “live united,” this year’s United Way of Central Maryland theme that promotes giving, volunteering and advocating for youth, families and communities in need of human, health and educational services. 

Deborah Stewart, a registered nurse and breast health educator, puts in time with a local troop of the Girl Scouts Council of Central Maryland, mentoring and conducting workshops on breast awareness. The annual funding from the United Way allows the organization to offer the girls yearly Girl Scout memberships at $10—a fraction of the usual fee. 

Inspired by her story as a 29-year breast cancer survivor, Harford County Troop 2046 creates care packages for future surgery patients at the Hopkins Breast Center. On Oct. 19, the girls will hold a 200-person bowling event where they’ll collect the gifts.

According to the United Way of Central Maryland, during an economic downturn, individual donors step up their giving. However, the collapse of the financial markets may decrease total workplace contributions, which make up the bulk of donations.

“We are extremely concerned this year, especially with what is happening in the finance industry,” says Molly Boncaro, Hopkins’ United Way representative.

The most efficient way donors can make their contributions is to pledge online, Pollak says. For every $10 you donate, $8.75 goes to the charity.

By moving toward a largely paperless system, JHM expects to save the cost of printing 15,000 personalized pledge forms and envelopes. However, employees who don’t have access to a computer or who prefer a hard copy may get forms from their department coordinators.

On Oct. 1, employees will be able to get information from the campaign’s new and improved Web site, which will provide donors a list of organizations to support.
Those who commit to give can enjoy a hot dog lunch on Oct. 16 and 23 in the Turner Plaza.                      





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