A legacy of community service
Date: January 10, 2012
For the past 30 years, faculty, students and staff have been recognized for their commitment to the ideals of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The following are the stories of a few of this year’s winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards:
Postdoctoral Fellow: Pediatric Oncology
School of Medicine
Julia Dooher says she’s always had her hand in some sort of science-focused volunteer work but was intrigued with the possibility that she could make a purposeful difference in the life of struggling teenagers. She signed up with the Incentive Mentoring Program, an initiative that assigns a family of mentors to underperforming Dunbar High School students.
A postdoctoral fellow researching pediatric blood cancers, Dooher puts in as many as 25 hours a week with the organization.
Dooher is assisting a young father of a 3-year-old to obtain a drivers license and a job, and recently helped a teen and his family avoid eviction. She’s found her mentees summer jobs at Hopkins, teaches them professional skills, and takes them on field trips. She is also director of enrichment and teambuilding.
Protective Services Officer
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Anthony Johnson recalls the 1980s vividly as a time when the AIDS epidemic began to spread in communities throughout his native Washington, D.C. At that time, he was not aware of the impact the disease would have on the world, but the life and death of a close friend infected with the disease affected him tremendously.
For the next 20 years, Johnson used his friend’s experience as an example to encourage others to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Johnson committed himself to helping others through his role as pastor of Zion Baptist Church. The ordained minister continued his outreach and ministry as the founder of Restoring Life Family Worship Center, where he spends up to 20 hours per week counseling those affected with HIV/AIDS.
Julianna Jung, M.D.
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
After giving birth to twins, emergency physician Julianna Jung was in search of a fitness challenge to help get her back into shape. A casual cyclist, she accepted an invitation from a friend to prepare for Moveable Feast’s annual 140-mile charity bike ride from Rehoboth, Del., to Baltimore.
The Ride for the Feast, held in May 2006, was Jung’s first involvement with the nonprofit that provides meals and social support to people living with HIV, breast cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
She’s remained active in the organization, for example, serving the past four years as the event’s medical director. When she chaired the bike ride in 2009, it attracted more than 150 riders and collected more than a quarter million dollars.
During the six years she’s been riding, her Team Atomic has brought in $100,000 from such things as music events, book signings and a pin-up calendar. She’s raised $15,000 of that total herself.
Project Manager, Operations Support
Johns Hopkins HealthCare
When it comes to raising money for a good cause, Julene Krenzer has done it all—from yard and bake sales to raffles. So when she saw the opportunity to participate in volunteer activities through the Office of Corporate Training, she was eager to lend a hand.
Her work with the United Way, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association has helped to improve the lives of children, battered women and even animals. She recalls one of her first volunteer activities, the SPCA Walk for the Animals, which she participated in with her late dog, Callie. The funds were used to support humane care and adoption services at the shelter.
Emergency Medical Technician
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
As an EMT, Justin McCracken is used to responding to urgent calls for help. But in his other lifesaving role as a volunteer firefighter, he faces completely different kinds of catastrophes. A few years ago, he rescued a woman from the second floor balcony of a burning senior living facility. To this day, the woman keeps in touch with him and sends him Christmas cards.
A 15-year volunteer firefighter, McCracken puts in more than 20 hours a week at the Reisterstown station and has received commendations for his heroic efforts. He’s raised money to improve the station, and also organized food and clothing drives for the homeless.
Ph.D. Candidate: Human Genetics
School of Medicine, Oncology
As part of the Junior Biomedical Scholars Mentorship Program that she founded last year, Khadijah Mitchell spends her Saturdays coaching Dunbar High School students in science, public health, and college and employment readiness.
A fifth-year Ph.D. candidate, Mitchell is training this year’s cohort of sophomores and juniors to function as public health ambassadors. The students decided to focus on such areas as medical sign language, asthma, schizophrenia and depression in teens. As part of the program, she’ll work with them to develop intervention plans and present them to Hopkins students in a symposium next spring.
A recipient of the 2011 Baltimore Albert Schweitzer fellowship, she’s used her $1,000 stipend to fund her mentoring activities.
Mitchell also spearheaded an outreach service opportunity to increase students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy.
Director, Child Development Center
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
Jennifer Nizer’s work on behalf of children extends beyond her day job as director for a community preschool development center housed at Johns Hopkins Bayview. For the past eight years, she’s served as president and board member of the Maryland State Child Care Association, an educational organization for child care and early learning centers. In that advocacy role, Nizer has mentored and trained teachers, providers and administrators in quality issues and the national accreditation process, and testified on bills affecting children, families and education.
—Janet Anderson and Carla Chase