October 3, 2011

Hundreds of helping hands

Nearly 1,000 volunteers assist area nonprofits on President’s Day of Service

The collective power of one university was on full display for the 2011 President’s Day of Service. Nearly 1,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni turned out on Sept. 24 to lend a hand to local nonprofit organizations and community centers in Baltimore and beyond.

Participants took part in more than 40 projects. They planted gardens, painted schools, cleaned streams, gathered food, mentored students, organized books and art supplies, supported a mobile HIV-testing unit and much more.

The event, organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern, seeks to demonstrate the transformative power of collective action and the positive impact that Johns Hopkins can make in the community. This year’s event drew participants from the Homewood, East Baltimore, Peabody and Applied Physics Laboratory campuses.

Roughly 700 of those who registered affiliated themselves with a student group.

“We had a very diverse group this year, and that was great,” said Gia Grier-McGinnis, assistant director of the Center for Social Concern. “We had people from fraternities, sororities, faith-based groups, Army ROTC, varsity sports teams, multicultural groups and others.”

Bill Tiefenwerth, director of the Center for Social Concern, said that the day had a special energy.

“It was a thrilling experience to see so many in blue shirts doing so many things all over town,” Tiefenwerth said, referring to the T-shirts worn by the volunteers. “It’s inspiring.”

Tiefenwerth himself accompanied 15 students to Jubilee Arts, a community program that offers arts classes to the residents of the Sandtown-Winchester, Upton and surrounding neighborhoods. The student volunteers recruited people on the street to sign up for art projects and after-school activities, created advertisements for the program and did whatever else was asked of them. The same group of students volunteered at the site last year.

“I thought it was wonderful that they wanted to do it again,” he said. “The experience they had last year clearly impacted them.”

Making a positive impact, Tiefenwerth said, is what the day is all about.