Standing in an overgrown, weeded lot between two rows of crumbling brick rowhomes, more than 40 bundled-up volunteers donned work gloves and safety glasses while listening to instructions for their shift.
Using what Scott Goldman, director of The 6th Branch, described as a “very scientific process,” the volunteers would spend the next four hours mulching sticks and clearing out a greenhouse to prepare the property to one day house a football field for a neighboring private school. “That’s the long-term project, and you are now all part of it,” said Goldman.
The 6th Branch, a veteran-led neighborhood association in Baltimore, was one of 35 places where university and health system faculty, staff and students volunteered on the second annual Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, held Jan. 25. 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 sorting clothing 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.
Volunteers at Young Audiences of Maryland spent the afternoon assembling 541-piece LEGO robot kits, which would be used by Baltimore City elementary school students during a summer robotics program.
Nearly 50 volunteers spent a full workday at the Family Recovery Program, which offers a support program for parents battling substance abuse and their children. Paintbrushes, paint buckets and ladders in hand, they provided a fresh coat of paint to the facility’s hallways and offices. The walls of Hampden Elementary School’s cafeteria also received a new paint job in the form of larger-than-life fruits and vegetables, fitting the theme, “Eat a Rainbow.”
“This is a great opportunity to give back to the community, and I feel fortunate to be able to do this,” said Lisa Allen, chief patient experience officer for Johns Hopkins Medicine, as she participated in an assembly line at Moveable Feast to prepare meal trays with sandwiches, fruit and mixed vegetables. The Baltimore-based nonprofit delivers nearly 300 meals a day across Maryland to people with cancer and other illnesses.
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.