Johns Hopkins volunteers pitch in on annual President's Day of Service

Nearly 1,300 students, faculty, staff lend a hand at city nonprofits

Painting a Baltimore animal shelter, weeding city flowerbeds, planting native grasses for the National Aquarium, and removing trash from the Stoney Run Stream Valley.

These are just a few of the tasks that nearly 1,300 Johns Hopkins University students, faculty, and staff performed Saturday to assist dozens of Baltimore nonprofit organizations as part of the annual President's Day of Service. It marked the largest turnout of volunteers in the history of the event, which was established in 2009 by President Ronald J. Daniels.

"This day is about impact—the collective impact that our students, faculty, staff, and community partners can make on our city," Daniels said. "Baltimore is our home and it's essential for us to do our part. Hopefully this day sparks a lifetime of community engagement for our students."

Also see: Hopkins students, staff participate in President's Day of Service (Baltimore Sun)

The day kicked off at 11 a.m. with a celebration for volunteers at the Ralph S. O'Connor Recreation Center on the Homewood campus. Daniels; Rollin Johnson Jr., director of the Center for Social Concern; Kevin Shollenberger, vice provost for student affairs; and others addressed participants before they fanned out to more than 45 locations across the city. Activities included:

  • Planting trees, picking up litter and debris, and removing graffiti at Wyman Park Dell, across the street from the Homewood campus

  • Painting at the 29th Street Community Center

  • Removing debris, planting native grasses, building an insect house, and repairing goose fences for the National Aquarium at the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Area

  • Painting and gardening at the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS)

  • Weeding and garden maintenance at the Charles North Cooperative Garden

  • Harvesting fruits and vegetables at First Fruits Farm, a Christian ministry that focuses on providing fresh produce to the homeless

  • Removing debris and cleaning the Stony Run Stream Valley adjacent to the Homewood campus

  • Running game, food, and craft booths at the annual fall festival at Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School

  • Preparing sandwiches and other meals at the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, a Baltimore emergency shelter that provides homeless services to more than 275 adult men and women each night

"President's Day of Service is an opportunity to come together to share, reinforce, and highlight our commitment to public service, civic engagement, and Baltimore," Johnson said. "With the support of our community partners, members of the JHU community not only get to work with various organizations doing amazing work in Baltimore, but also our students get to see how they could continue to make sustained contributions."

The volunteers included nearly 500 first-year students, more than 200 athletes, and close to 50 volunteers from the Peabody Institute. Provost Robert C. Lieberman; Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering; and Beverly Wendland, interim dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, were also among the volunteers.

Daniels and his wife, Joanne Rosen, visited two sites, including the 29th Street Community Center, where they picked up brushes and rollers and painted alongside students.

"Working side by side, we forge new friendships, deepen existing ones, and strengthen our connection to this city and the communities we call home," Daniels said.

The President's Day of Service coincided with a similar JHU service effort in East Baltimore, where representatives of the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health volunteered with several organizations, including Project PLASE for homeless people in transition, the Living Classrooms Foundation, and the Yo! Baltimore youth program.

Also, for the third year in a row, Johns Hopkins Alumni Association chapters across the country—in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Orange County, Calif. —took part in service projects in their cities.

The President's Day of Service is organized by the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern and funded by the Johns Hopkins Parents Fund.