It started about two years ago, when senior research specialist Karen Fox-Talbot noticed a fellow rider quietly crying on the morning shuttle. Fox-Talbot walked half the length of the bus to comfort physical therapist Amy Toonstra, who was grieving for her grandmother.
Toonstra introduced fellow physical therapist Kelly Sulek to her friends on the bus, which departs from The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus at 7:15 on weekday mornings. Meanwhile, Mary Ann Dunevant, a research project coordinator in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, struck up a conversation with Conrad Bukoski, a nurse.
Soon, the group grew to about 10, including Jack Ellinghaus, facility manager for Forest City Enterprises; medical student Rebecca Garbose; research associate Zhi Zhang; laboratory supervisor Suraya Berger; and research technician Adam Longwich.
They talk about the usual stuff: sports, their kids, what they did over the weekend and what they’ll make for dinner. And when they arrive at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, they step off the shuttle, hug and shout “Save the world!” before beginning their workdays.
When Dunevant retired in November, the group organized a “cupcake flash mob” with home-baked treats for everyone on the bus. Dunevant still rides the Johns Hopkins-run shuttle occasionally. She volunteers at the hospital once a week and meets her fellow commuters for coffee. “I don’t want to lose those friendships,” she says.