On Saturday, Oct. 27, students, alumni, faculty and staff from Hopkins ventured from Homewood to participate in the University’s 4th Annual President’s Day of Service (PDOS).
In this annual event organized by the Center for Social Concern, members of the Hopkins community have the opportunity work on various volunteer projects throughout Baltimore.
The event was founded fifteen years ago as Freshman Involved Day, in which approximately 200 students were divvied up between 15 service sites. The day’s goal was to familiarize Hopkins’s newest students with their new hometown of Baltimore. In 2009, when President Ron Daniels took office, the event reached a turning point.
Now known as the President’s Day of Service, the program has grown to involve roughly 800 members of our community working on numerous projects at 35 different locations, numbers that have been consistent over recent years.
“I think that 800 is a great size for our PDOS event as it seems to accommodate our project sites well, and is also a realistic number for our undergraduate students. We hope to increase this number in the coming years, but it will require increasing our capacity for volunteers,” Kirsten Bishop, a Community Service Specialist at the Center for Social Concern, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
This year, the projects were categorized into three areas: beautification, hunger and food justice and working with people. These are the main areas of interest that PDOS hopes to improve.
“The purpose of President's Day of Service is for all members of the Hopkins community to come together to serve our broader community, Baltimore. We truly see the event as bringing together Hopkins and Baltimore for one day, but also encouraging our students to go beyond one day of service,” Bishop wrote. “Through exposure to the nonprofit organizations that participate in PDOS, we hope that students find causes that inspires them to continue to give back to our community.”
Among students, PDOS is a positive, rewarding experience. Sophomore Nina Henage volunteered for her second year at PDOS, this year with a group from Kappa Kappa Gamma. She worked at Sarah’s Hope, a women’s and children’s shelter which feeds, houses and counsels the long-term homeless women and children.
“Even though waking up early on a Saturday morning isn't exactly the easiest thing, it definitely was and is worth it. While we were there, they had one of the homeless women who is currently living there come share her story with us which was really touching. It helped bring us back to the reality of how much poverty and struggle there is in Baltimore. Each year it is a meaningful experience to get out of the sheltered bubble we have here on the Hopkins campus and really see the reality of this city without sugar-coating,” Henage said.
The projects tackled on Saturday were diverse.
“We had projects that varied from volunteering at a harvest festival and setting up for Hauntingdon in Remington, to hosting a dance workshop for a dance studio in East Baltimore, to assisting with rebuilding and demolition projects to allow for community gardens and development,” Bishop wrote.
“I used to do the same type of program for my high school. It is important to give back to the community, and I never have time to do it so this was the perfect opportunity,” freshman Leela Subramaniam wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “I volunteered at Cylburn Arboretum. It is a beautiful park, and we helped clean up the trails.”
A feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment was felt throughout the body of participants, especially in response to the appreciation that sprang from those who were helped.
“We spoke to the regular volunteers and they said without us they would have gotten maybe a 1/4 of the amount of work done that we did,” Subramaniam wrote.
Hooley worked at the Samaritan Women site for last year’s PDOS and remembers his experience there very well.
The efforts of Hopkins volunteers make a direct impact on the Baltimore community, participants said.