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Dome - Small Efforts, a World of Difference

Dome October 2014

Small Efforts, a World of Difference

Date: October 6, 2014

How the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund improves lives.

United Way volunteers
Volunteers assemble donated articles as part of a program to provide furniture and household items for people who were formerly homeless.

The first piece of donated furniture to arrive at “Mr. Davidson’s” new apartment was a green easy chair. Davidson, who had recently moved in after experiencing homelessness, immediately sat down in it—and wouldn’t get up.

“I love my chair,” he told Peggy Meyer, a volunteer with The Resource Exchange (TRE), which collected the furniture and arranged for its delivery. She says Davidson watched as movers also delivered his new bed, a couch, tables, chairs, lamps, and some dishes and utensils to stock his kitchen.

TRE, a program of St. Vincent de Paul Church’s social action committee, provides furniture and household goods to people who were formerly homeless and have found stable housing through its neighbor, Health Care for the Homeless. The organization outfits homes for about eight clients a month, all with donated items and funds.

In May, TRE was one of 19 local groups to receive a grant from the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund. The fund, administered in partnership with United Way of Central Maryland but run by Johns Hopkins, was started in 2007 to give Johns Hopkins employees a way to designate donations to small nonprofit organizations delivering services within three-quarters of a mile of any of the Johns Hopkins campuses within Baltimore City.

“It’s very personal,” says Frank Bossle, executive director of Johns Hopkins internal audits, who chairs the committee that allocates the funds each year. “We’re lucky to have the jobs we have, but we work in some of the poorest areas in Baltimore. This gives us the ability to say, ‘I’m going to give money to a fund that will help each of these communities become stronger and safer.’”

Here’s how it works: During the annual Johns Hopkins United Way campaign, employees can designate donations and/or payroll deductions for the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund, just as they would any other United Way designation. Nonprofit organizations apply for grants of up to $15,000 to support projects in the categories of employment, education, health, community revitalization or public safety—chosen for their potential to help people living in the geographic areas, Bossle says.

TRE applied for and received $7,800. Half will cover home goods and miscellaneous small furniture items, and half will pay for the storage unit where donated items await delivery. That translates to home furnishings for about 96 people this year, says volunteer Peggy Cronyn. “We’re not changing the world, but we’re changing someone’s world,” she says.

—Rachel Wallach



Here are some facts about the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund.

The Numbers

  • 19 Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund grants awarded out of 71 eligible organizations that applied
  • Approximately $260,000 total allocated; approximately $137,000 from Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Approximately 850 total donors; approximately 460 from Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • $5,000 to $15,000 per award
  • Approximately $1.3 million awarded since inception in 2007

A Sampling of This Year’s Recipients

  • Baltimore Urban Leadership Foundation: Supports an afterschool and summer program that helps to close the achievement gap for low-income and low-performing students in math and science.
  • Caroline Center: Provides tuition-free career and life skills training for women in Baltimore City.
  • CASA de Maryland: Supports the Mi Espacio program, which helps to increase high school graduation and college enrollment rates among Latino immigrant youth.
  • Charm City Clinic: Offers services such as signing up for health insurance, basic screening, financial assistance and health resource navigation.

See the complete list.

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