Experiences as a Thread volunteer (cont’d)

news1Thread solidified personal values that have had a real impact on my professional life. I chose Johns Hopkins Bayview for my internal medicine residency because it emphasizes “knowing your patients as people.” With other residents at Bayview, I started a program for patients with frequent emergency department visits and hospitalizations who were falling through the cracks of the medical system. We focused on identifying the psychosocial context of these patients’ illnesses through physician home visits and a dedicated care manager who could meet with patients beyond the walls of the clinic. My experiences with Thread laid the groundwork for taking a more comprehensive and team-based approach to treating patients.

I recently completed a fellowship in geriatrics (a population known for both its medical and psychosocial complexities) and started a research fellowship. My career goal is to design an intervention for chronically ill older adults with frequent hospitalizations that enhances their self-management capacities and social support networks.

I am sometimes asked why I focus on patients already in a cycle of frequent hospital admissions. “Isn’t there a point at which something is a lost cause?” I don’t believe in lost causes. Working with Thread taught me that problems are only opportunities to find the root causes of what is happening and to address them in a thoughtful way. Volunteers and staff often discussed the interactions of poverty, substance abuse, and lack of education and how these three problems compound one another. Thread has not only conditioned me to identify harmful cycles, but also to recognize the strengths and resources that can transform negative cycles into positive ones. This is Thread’s way of life, and now it is mine. Sincerely, Melissa Datallo

Resource Fair launches Parent Engagement Program (cont’d)

Adi Noiman with her first two Thread students.

Adi Noiman with her first two Thread students.

Adi Noiman tells how her volunteer experiences and observations led to a new and important Thread program:

As a Head of Family and the Director of Summer Programs, I saw first hand how Thread brings together students, volunteers, and leaders in Baltimore City, redefining “family” and “community.” I also saw an opportunity to more effectively engage a key group directly impacting the success of our students: their parents/guardians and families.

Working with Amber Earl, our Engagement Services Director, I polled Thread volunteer leaders and found that, in addition to academic assistance, key needs affecting our students and their families included workforce development, healthcare, both physical and mental, and legal aid. With this data, we began planning an event to raise awareness of what Thread can provide.

On August 26, approximately 75 people attended our first Thread Resource Fair, including parents, siblings, guardians, students, volunteers, staff, and vendors. Thread volunteers represented “in-house” services such as academic planning, workforce development, summer programming, and more. External community resources — Baltimore City Community College, Dress for Success, Health Care Access Maryland, Legal Aid, and Year Up — also distributed information and talked with attendees.

A new website, designed for parents and guardians, will give our students’ families access to current, relevant information and resources.

Through the Parent Engagement Program, Thread volunteers have already increased their contact with the students’ families. Plans for the future include a parent and guardian-only social and Resource Fairs at the beginning of each academic year.

Adi Noiman is a fourth year PhD student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Thread doesn’t disappear when things become overwhelming” (cont’d)

Born in Baltimore, Mrs. Brown earned a Masters Degree in Social Work from Morgan State University and has worked at ACCE as a school counselor for seven years. Working closely with ACCE principal, Ms. Quinhon Goodlowe, Mrs. Brown has overseen the Thread program at ACCE since its initial collaboration with Thread. Volunteer Laura Kelly interviewed her for LoopedIn.

Laura Kelly: How does Thread support ACCE students?

Kristin Brown: Thread provides academic, emotional, and social support to our students. [Thread volunteers] expose the students to different cultures, take them on trips, and offer them career opportunities.

LK: Does Thread’s approach make a difference in the lives of ACCE students?

KB: Thread has been able to provide a safe haven for our students to learn with a consistent support group of volunteers.

LK: Is Thread’s approach different from other programs?

KB: Thread’s “family system” provides more than one volunteer to be there for the student. Since most of our kids are dealing with multiple issues, they can call upon the volunteer in their Thread Family who they think can best serve their needs at that moment. For example, if a student needs clean clothes for school or tutoring for an exam, or if they just need someone to talk to, they contact the Thread Family member who they feel can give them the best advice.

LK: What do you think is the key to Thread’s success?

KB: I think that the family concept allows for the program to be more consistent, so no matter how difficult the circumstances for the student become, Thread doesn’t disappear when things become overwhelming. So many of our kids have no one to count on at home, and they have always said that Thread is there when they need it.

LK: So, overall, has Thread’s program been effective for ACCE?

KB: Absolutely! We have a positive relationship where we work together for the best interests of all of our students.

VAA keeps volunteer alumni connected (cont’d)

Supporting the goal, stated in our Long Range Plan, to create “a broader, more inclusive social fabric – a ‘neighborhood’ no longer defined by a map,” volunteer Lauren Zeitels envisioned keeping Thread volunteer alumni connected to the Thread community even after they leave the Johns Hopkins campuses. “Thread volunteers are a talented and diverse group of people who share an interest in serving others and building community. We felt there should be a way for them to keep their connections, not only to Thread, but also to each other. In addition to reconnecting volunteers, we want to take advantage of the professional experience and opportunities that both Thread and Thread volunteer alumni can offer.” Earlier this year, Lauren collaborated with former Senior Director of Community Engagement, Kathleen (Kat) Lee, to create Thread’s new Volunteer Alumni Association (VAA). Kat, like several other staff members, started with Thread as a volunteer.

Kat and Lauren recruited a diverse board of volunteer alumni who had served Thread in leadership roles: Lauren Zeitels and Sara Sinclair (Co-chairs), Melissa Dattalo (Secretary), Adam Moyer (Treasurer), Laurene Cheung (Director of Alumni Engagement), Dana Behneman (Director of Alumni Engagement), Yair Flicker (Director of Technology), and Kat (Member at Large).

Throughout the process of creating the VAA and its governing board, Co-chair Sara Sinclair found the Thread staff “incredibly supportive and flexible in meeting our needs. ” Co-chairs meet regularly with staff and work together to improve and strengthen the organization.

The VAA is planning to involve as many alumni as possible, using quarterly newsletters, student updates, professional development, and a job opportunity database to both engage and reconnect volunteer alumni. In addition, they look forward to organizing local and virtual events to further connect them with Thread students, student alumni, and staff as well as other volunteer alumni. If you are interested in joining the VAA or learning more, please email volunteeralumni@thread.org or join the VAA Facebook page.

JHU Internship Program supports Thread (cont’d)

Sophia Ottleben, a JHU senior and Thread GrandParent (a specially trained volunteer leader who coordinates and manages a group of up to ten Thread Families), and Albert Chavesta, a JHU junior, were selected to participate in an 8-week internship with Hopkins’s Community Impact Internship Program (CIIP), part of JHU’s Center for Social Concern. While at Thread, Sophia and Albert were primarily responsible for managing Thread’s involvement in DAASI (Diversity and Academic Advancement Summer Institute), a partnership between Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Office for Student Diversity and Thread, providing summer jobs for local high schools students in laboratories or offices at Hopkins or other businesses/organizations serving the Baltimore City community. Once the summer internships began on June 23rd, both Albert and Sophia transitioned to being the main points of contact for DAASI students and employers. They supported students so they could arrive at their correct locations, on time, and handled all student or employer concerns throughout the program.

Albert observes that, through DAASI, “Thread has been helpful, not only in encouraging the students to succeed, but also in teaching their employers how to make use of the students’ natural talents in a constructive way.” And the experience had a personal effect on him as well. “Thread has made me realize that my mission is to help others reach their full potential, and I carry that ideology with me as I continue to fulfill my goals.”

JHMC celebrates student summer programs (cont’d)

The Hopkins C.A.R.E.S. Symposium was designed by Daniel Teraguchi, Dean of the Office of Student Diversity at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, to highlight the work of each student intern program on the Hopkins Medical Campus. Thread participated with 13 Thread students, two volunteers, and three staff members, representing DAASI, a partnership between Thread and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Office for Student Diversity.

Representatives from each of the ten summer programs planned and organized the event. Sean Foley, Thread’s High School Program Director, a member of the planning committee, helped develop the outline of the symposium with Dr. Teraguchi. Students were asked to present and defend posters they had designed to showcase what they had learned during their summer work experience. CIIP (Community Impact Internships Program) Interns Sophia Ottleben and Albert Chavesta, and Eli Pessar, Thread’s new Douglass Site Coordinator, assisted in planning each student’s presentation.

In defending her poster, Daria (ACCE, C4) commented, “Sometimes I think Thread asks us to do too much, but then I realize that I can do it!” At the end of the symposium, six Baltimore City High School students were recognized for their work, including three Thread students, Savannah, ACCE, C2), Shaniya (Dunbar, C5), and Devin (Dunbar, C6).

News & Notes

DAASI 2014 wraps up with annual symposium

news3On August 1, Thread students and their employers who took part in this summer’s DAASI Program at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution (JHMI) celebrated the program’s end with a symposium and luncheon.

Thirty participants and their supporters gathered at the Pre-Clinical Teaching Building, JHMI, where students presented their summer’s work through PowerPoint presentations and other media. Students who successfully completed the six-week summer program received certificates, and employers who have participated with DAASI for multiple years were also recognized for their continued support. The entire group then enjoyed a luncheon as a thank you for the summer.

Thread goes to summer camp

news4On July 18 and August 22, students, volunteers and staff traveled to Whiteford, Maryland, to the Boy Scouts (BSA) Campgrounds for three days of camping and participating in BSA facilitated activities. Students played basketball and badminton, went swimming, built nightly campfires, roasted marshmallows, and played group games.

On Saturday morning, the group traveled by canoe to a spot where students and volunteers could jump from a ten-foot cliff and, for the more adventurous, a 40-foot overhang.

Over the course of each weekend, students and volunteers alike used a variety of experiences to move beyond their physical and social “comfort zones.”

Co-founders speak to BWGC

news5Sarah and Ryan Hemminger told the Thread story at the opening luncheon of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) on September 17. They were invited to share their personal histories and describe how and why Thread has been so successful. In addition, Aisha, a Thread student shared her journey and explained how Thread made a dramatic difference in her life.

With more than 400 members in the Baltimore region, BWGC has awarded over $3.5 million in its 12-year history to non-profits supporting self-sufficiency for women and their families. Thread has received grants totaling $40,000 in 2012 and 2014. Read more about the BWGC here.


Contributors: Albert Chavesta, Melissa Datallo, Amber Earl, Sean Foley, Sarah Hemminger, Laura Kelly, Katie Lekin (BWGC), Adi Noiman, Varun Patel, Eli Pessar, Sara Sinclair, Albert Wavering, Brenda Wilson, Lauren Zeitels, Tong Zhang.