October 18, 2010

2010 United Way campaigns kick off this week

Johns Hopkins’ 2010 United Way of Central Maryland campaign, which kicks off today, will once again play a major role in the daily lives of thousands of Marylanders in need.

Mark Furst, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland, said that the organization will focus this year on meeting the basic needs of people. The organization, he said, will place a greater emphasis on helping agencies that provide emergency shelters, food, affordable child care, utility assistance and other frontline services.

“We need to sustain people through crisis, make them self-sufficient and then support them as they rise up to a higher quality of life,” Furst said. “We are supporting agencies that are literally helping keep people alive and then stabilizing them.”

Furst said that due to the economic downturn, the strains on the community safety net are greater than ever. Johns Hopkins, he said, will help United Way prop up this net.

“Johns Hopkins is the single largest employee-giving campaign in the state,” he said. “Last year, Hopkins employees gave roughly $2.6 million to United Way. That represents a huge impact on the community.”

Johns Hopkins has also taken on a leadership role in this year’s drive as Edward Miller, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Ron Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, will serve as co-chairs of the United Way of Central Maryland campaign.

“Johns Hopkins Medicine touches so many people in this state, so to have its leaders support United Way in this way, I can think of no higher compliment,” Furst said.

Due to economic conditions, the United Way of Central Maryland last year cut operating costs and significantly reduced its designation fee to 5 percent, with a cap of $500 no matter the size of the gift. It previously charged 17.5 percent for paper-pledged designations and 12.5 percent for electronic designations to specific health and human services organizations. Designations made to United Way  do not have fees associated.

Jerry Schnydman, executive assistant to the president and secretary of the board of trustees, will serve as chair of the university’s campaign, which runs through Dec. 17.

Stephanie Reel, chief information officer and vice provost for information technology, will serve as chair of the Johns Hopkins Medicine campaign, which will run from Wednesday to Nov. 10. Ted DeWeese, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences for the School of Medicine, is vice chair.

Reel said that the United Way of Central Maryland needs Johns Hopkins to step up to serve our community.

“United Way is a critical resource to many people who never expected to need a safety net,” Reel said. “We can make a big difference. Just think about it: $1 a week would provide 12 homeless veterans three meals for one full day. A donation of $2.50 a week would help 25 inner city youth attend a program that teaches life skills that help them learn and become independent. Every little bit helps.”

The combined university/Johns Hopkins Medicine financial goal for the 2010 campaign is $2.2 million, a total for contributions from all divisions except SAIS, whose donations are reported to the National Capital Area campaign in Washington, D.C., and the Applied Physics Laboratory, which no longer reports its financial goals and results. The university’s campaign will be rolled out by its “ambassadors”—selected employees who will educate others about United Way and can answer questions.

Employees will be able to designate all or part of their donation to the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund, which supports agencies that serve communities in close proximity to Johns Hopkins campuses and have a strong relationship with Johns Hopkins and its employees. It was created to assist community-oriented organizations and agencies that may not currently receive United Way funding.

“There’s great need right here in our midst, people who have fallen on hard times and need our assistance to pull them back up,” Schnydman said. “That is why the Neighborhood Fund is so important. It was developed to assist community-oriented organizations that serve people who we might walk or drive by each day. We must not forget our responsibility.”

Last year, the Neighborhood Fund raised more than $240,000. To be considered, nonprofit organizations must be associated with Johns Hopkins through employee and/or institutional involvement and deliver services within the Live Near Your Work program boundaries and/or a 3/4-mile radius of a Johns Hopkins campus that participates in the annual United Way of Central Maryland campaign. A committee representing a cross section of employees oversees the allocation of the fund.

The overall campaign, whose theme is “Give Help Today and Hope for Tomorrow,” will focus on funding 1,600 nonprofit organizations in Central Maryland that provide assistance in the basic need areas.

Among the events highlighting this year’s university campaign will be a Chili Cook-Off/Bake-Off, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine campaign will feature two hot dog lunches, on Oct. 21 and Oct. 29 in the Turner Plaza. The Oct. 29 event will feature Baltimore Orioles legend Brooks Robinson. Admission to the events is a completed campaign pledge form or a coupon signed by the employee’s United Way coordinator.

The campaigns will feature department- and office-level events that seek to educate Johns Hopkins employees on the work of the Neighborhood Fund as well as of United Way of Central Maryland, which supports human service agencies in Baltimore City and its five surrounding counties.

Employees may contribute through a secure and confidential electronic system, which can be found at web.jhu.edu/uw. To access the system, employees will use their JHED ID and password. Those who would rather pledge by paper can download a form from the United Way site or contact their department coordinator.

For more information on the Johns Hopkins campaigns, go to http://web.jhu.edu/uw or contact unitedway@jhu.edu or 410-516-6060.