Speaking as a chair of the upcoming 2002 United Way campaign, Ilene Busch-Vishniac says she doesn't see Johns Hopkins as a collection of divisions and departments, institutes and centers. What the dean of the Whiting School of Engineering does see is one large entity with a nearly unlimited potential for good.
The theme for this year's campaign is "Make Your Caring Count," and Busch-Vishniac says that by participating in Hopkins' United Way effort, everyone can do just that.
"Through the United Way we manage to leverage our funds to have the greatest impact," Busch-Vishniac says. "When we give together in a specific direction. we have far greater impact than we ever could individually."
The university will officially begin its 2002 drive for the United Way of Central Maryland this month with a kickoff event in Shriver Hall, Homewood campus, and several launches on other campuses.
This year's three campaign chairs--for the university, Busch-Vishniac; for the Applied Physics Laboratory, Ned Aull, supervisor of the Human Resources Department's services group; and for Johns Hopkins Medicine, Roger A. Johns, chairman of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the School of Medicine--have set a combined Hopkins goal of $2,344,500.
This figure represents a total for contributions from JHM and all university divisions except the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, whose donations are reported to the Washington capital area campaign. Last year's combined Hopkins gifts to the United Way of Central Maryland totaled $2,267,011, which represented 109 percent of the overall goal.
Events scheduled for the six-week campaign include a universitywide Day of Caring to help refurbish a local woman's shelter operated by Project PLASE Inc., to be held Sept. 11; a special fundraiser scheduled for November; and several lottery drawings throughout the campaign for those employees returning pledges or contributions of $35 or more.
The Days of Caring are events in which staff and faculty can get directly involved with a local community service. Traditionally, employees have helped feed the homeless, landscaped vacant lots, collected goods for shelters, held bake drives and volunteered their time with disadvantaged or disabled children, just to name a few.
At APL, the Days of Caring have become an institution, says Ned Aull, a united effort that is a source of great pride. This year APL personnel will take part in more than 50 separate volunteer events. The goal of 1,500 volunteer hours, Aull says, means as much to his fellow staff members as the $650,000 the Lab hopes to raise in this year's pledge drive.
"There is just a very strong spirit of volunteerism in the staff here. It's embedded in our culture and very much supported by the leadership of the organization," says Aull, adding that roughly 99 percent of the volunteer work is done on staff members' own time. "It astounds me the overwhelming support there is here for the Days of Caring activities."
The money raised by the 2002 United Way campaign will support the more than 250 human service programs that seek to improve people's lives in Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties.
In building what it calls a community safety net, the organization focuses on four initiatives: investing in children and youth, strengthening families, building the work force and responding to crisis.
In light of the tragedies of the past year, Busch-Vishniac has chosen to target her message to responding to crisis.
"The events of Sept. 11 brought home how vulnerable all of us are to events beyond our control. No matter how much planning we do, events can happen that we simply cannot imagine," she says. "In fact, lots of people in our immediate area are trying to exist from one crisis to another. What we would like to do this year is focus on helping the community be in a position to respond to any crisis--and preferably help people who are living from crisis to crisis by giving them a break from having to constantly put out fires."
Roger A. Johns, who also chaired the JHM drive last year, says the focus for him is to increase participation rates among JHM employees. Johns says that while there was a significant increase last year in the amount of leadership givers--those who contribute $1,000 or more--the overall participation rate remained relatively low.
"While leadership dollars bring in a lot of money, the needs are great, and it's vital that we all give whatever we can," Johns says. "We need to do a better job of getting the message out that the United Way remains the best way to give and reach the largest amount of those in need."
Busch-Vishniac says the current state of the U.S. economy makes it even more important to contribute.
"While some of us might be feeling a financial pinch these days, we have to just imagine what it's like for people who have so much less. They are truly struggling," she says. "In times of financial hardship, the United Way's needs are even greater."
For more information on Hopkins' United Way campaign, go to www.jhu.edu/~outreach/uway.