The Time Is Always Right to Do What Is Right

Nearly 550 Johns Hopkins volunteers gave back to the community on the 2019 Johns Hopkins MLK Day of Service.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital employees volunteer at CASA, a domestic violence shelter in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Published in Dome - January/February 2019 Dome

When she discovers that a patient’s home is no longer a safe place to be, Cindy Driscoll, senior director of home care/care coordination at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, often reaches out to CASA, a domestic violence shelter in St. Petersburg, Florida. When Driscoll saw the opportunity to volunteer at the shelter as part of the Johns Hopkins MLK Day of Service, she signed up right away.

“It’s important to give back to the community, and it’s also important that the community knows that Johns Hopkins All Children’s gives back,” Driscoll said. Her seven-person volunteer group cleaned the kitchens used to cook meals for the shelter’s 200-plus residents. The task required a lot of elbow grease to tackle 12 industrial-size refrigerators, six ovens and multiple microwaves.

CASA was one of 35 places where university and health system faculty, staff and students volunteered on the second annual day of service, held Jan. 25. The event was once again organized by the Johns Hopkins Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Johns Hopkins Office of Work, Life and Engagement. In total, nearly 550 volunteers donated their time to nonprofit organizations in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Florida. They did everything from painting walls and murals to preparing meals and landscaping, many for at least half a workday.

“This day of service is just another way Johns Hopkins demonstrates our commitment to the many communities that we are part of,” said Inez Stewart, senior vice president of human resources for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

At Winter Growth, an assisted living facility in Columbia, Maryland, international care coordinator Danny Rossi spent time bowling, dancing and playing games with the residents. Formerly an Ob/Gyn physician with Doctors Without Borders, he volunteers often and says it’s like second nature to him.

Wearing the blue T-shirt provided to volunteers this year, Colleen Watson, practice administrator for Johns Hopkins Community Physicians Heart Care in Chevy Chase, said that students at the Homewood Center in Ellicott City, Maryland, affectionately referred to her volunteer group as “the blue shirt people.” While helping in the alternative school’s tech workshop, she said students were proud to show off their woodworking skills.

Other volunteers had a specific reason for choosing their site. Sara Fludd, digital developer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, gravitated toward a more kid-focused organization rather than gardening or building. At the Lew Williams Center for Early Learning in St. Petersburg, her volunteer group created projects in preparation for the school’s upcoming Literacy Week, including re-creating the cover of the children’s book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and painting an alphabet on the sidewalk, much to the delight of children leaving for the day.

Johns Hopkins Medicine copy editor Ron Hube initially visited the Second Chance warehouse in Baltimore while redoing his kitchen cabinets last summer. Impressed with the organization’s mission — and its well-organized 200,000-square-foot warehouse for reclaimed materials — he returned on the day of service alongside 70 other volunteers to pull nails out of lumber so it can be resold.

“Today aligns so well with Martin Luther King Jr. and his example of being a servant leader,” said Yariela Kerr-Donovan, senior director of strategic workforce development. “What we do at Johns Hopkins — serving patients and students — we are a leader in these fields.” While volunteering at Art with a Heart, she helped create mosaic mirrors that will go in the bathrooms at a new Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore.