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Hopkins Community Lends Baltimore and D.C. a Big Hand

Nearly 400 volunteers participate in fourth-annual Johns Hopkins in Action day of service
Posted May 11, 2016

As the sun shined on the Mid-Atlantic for what seemed like the first time in ages, nearly 400 members of the Hopkins community ventured out to 10 sites around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to participate in the fourth-annual Johns Hopkins in Action day of service. Volunteers worked in food banks, parks, and schools as part of Johns Hopkins in Action, which encourages Hopkins alumni, students, faculty, and friends to make a difference while also supporting the priorities of the Rising to the Challenge campaign.

"One of the reasons I came to Hopkins is because we focus on using evidence-based solutions to tackle the world's most difficult problems. It's important that we also turn that focus toward the city in which we work," says Paul Ferraro, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor with joint appointments in the Whiting School of Engineering and Carey Business School. Ferraro, his wife, Kristin Rowles, and their son, Sam, volunteered with the nonprofit organization Blue Water Baltimore in South Baltimore's Cherry Hill Park, performing tree maintenance and trash pickup on the shores of the Patapsco River.

"The first step in helping Baltimore is to know the city, and the first step in knowing the city is to be engaged with it and understand its problems," Ferraro says.

Other volunteers engaged with Baltimore and Washington, D.C., through work at the Packard Center Annual Fiesta 5k Run for ALS Research, Maryland Book Bank, Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, People’s Homesteading Group, Joseph Lee Park, Moveable Feast, GreenMount School, York Road Partnership, and Woodlawn Cemetery.

Joining Ferraro and his family at Cherry Hill Park were scores of volunteers from Baltimore-based Under Armour and staff from Bloomberg LP's offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. Also among the active and energetic crowd were more than a dozen Bloomberg Scholars whose Hopkins experiences were made possible by a generous gift from alumnus, philanthropist, and three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Engr '64. Many of those students, such as Antonio Spina, who will graduate from the Whiting School this month, found inspiration to give back in those scholarships.

"The whole spirit of the gift Mr. Bloomberg gave is to give us, as students, the opportunity to make the world a better place. The best way to thank him is to pass it on and help others who may not have the kind of opportunities that we do," Spina says. "We can make our part of the world, Baltimore, a better place."

In addition to Johns Hopkins in Action, many of these Bloomberg Scholars engage with the Baltimore community on an ongoing basis. First-year student Quintin Borgersen, of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, takes part in the Hopkins tutorial project, a four-hour-per-week service commitment to help students in local, under-resourced elementary schools. Madeleine Uraih, also a freshman in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, works in an afterschool program near Margaret Brent Elementary School not far from the Homewood campus and volunteers for Manna House, a nonprofit organization that provides food, health, and housing services for the city's homeless and needy. 

"From what I've gathered speaking to people in Baltimore, many see Hopkins as disconnected from how their 'real world' works here," Uraih says. "Getting out and hearing about what people do, how they live, shows that you care about the city and not just our campus. It shows that improving their communities is important to us."

Check out the Facebook gallery of photos from Blue Water Baltimore and other locations in Baltimore and Washington D.C.