Students return to President’s Day of Service

ELIZABETH CHEN/PHOTOGRAPHY STAFF President's Day of Service (PDOS) returned to Hopkins for the sixth year on Saturday.

ELIZABETH CHEN/PHOTOGRAPHY STAFF President’s Day of Service (PDOS) returned to Hopkins for the sixth year on Saturday.

Nearly 1,300 students and faculty members participated in community service projects at the the sixth annual President’s Day of Service (PDOS), which took place Saturday at dozens of locations across Baltimore.

Before the volunteers were dispatched to their respective service sites, President Ronald J. Daniels addressed the volunteers in the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center. Daniels, who started PDOS in 2009 to encourage University-wide community service, said this year’s turnout was the largest yet.

This year’s PDOS projects included cleaning up a river at Middle Park Branch, painting at the 29th Street Community Center, painting and gardening at Chesapeake’s ReStore, interacting with Thomas Johnson Elementary and Middle School students and preparing food for the homeless at the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center. All outreach sites focused on maintenance, gardening, or interaction with the community. Tools and supplies for various activities were donated by the Baltimore Community ToolBank.

The projects, which were mostly student-led, also included many local student organizations including 901 Arts, Thread (formerly Incentive Mentoring Program), Habitat for Humanity and Outdoor Pursuits.

Although volunteers doing outdoor service projects had to work in the rain, PDOS Logistics Chair Chase Alston wrote in an email to The News-Letter that she thought the day was well-attended.

“Considering the fact it rained (and no one likes to go out in the rain), I think it was pretty successful,” Alston wrote.

Senior Ann Mendoza said she enjoys volunteering for PDOS because it gives her the opportunity to learn from others and make an impact on people’s lives. This year, Mendoza served with Outdoor Pursuits. The group travelled to a river site near Homewood and cleaned litter and debris that caused environmental damage.

Mendoza said that she enjoys volunteering at PDOS because she finds it difficult to squeeze in community service into her busy schedule.

“The only regret I always have is not being able to come back again with my group,” Mendoza said. “At the of the day, you usually have such an amazing time with all these different organizations and everything they do. A lot of us just ask afterwards if we can help them out again. They try to give us their information, but unfortunately even our schedules are packed that we don’t get to go back during the semester or next semester.”

Mendoza said that she wants to see more major service events that get students involved in the community.

“I’m glad we have President’s Day of Service, but I kind of wish we could do this a little bit more,” Mendoza said. “A lot of groups don’t have volunteers this massive who try to come back and help them each week, or every month. So it would be really helpful if some of us came by to show our support and show that we care for Baltimore.”

Alston echoed Mendoza’s sentiment. She wrote about how PDOS exposes students to local issues that they might not know existed.

“I really believe community service is important, and I think PDOS is a great way for Hopkins students to get out of the ‘Hopkins Bubble’ and see parts of Baltimore they wouldn’t normally be exposed to,” she wrote.

Beyond Homewood, the PDOS Executive Board also helped arrange alumni community service events in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Orange County, Calif. in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Relations.

The PDOS Executive Board began planning the event, which was funded by the Johns Hopkins Parents Fund, in July. The board was comprised of undergraduate students, who met weekly.

The board’s responsibilities included previewing all the sites beforehand for safety and making sure that all outreaches had their respective tools.

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