Launching our third Baltimore site!

thread_serviceThread’s community connections go further and deeper than our strong affiliations with our students’ high schools. At each site we consider other, neighboring institutions or groups to partner with as well. Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, adjacent to Douglass, our newest high school, was the site of our Autumn Action Day on October 11, a day that wove together several Baltimore communities: Thread, Johns Hopkins, Douglass, and Robert W. Coleman Elementary.

Thread’s Autumn Action Day is part of JHU’s President’s Day of Service (PDOS), a university-wide day of service named for University President Ronald Daniels. For six years, on the PDOS, the whole JHU Homewood campus plus a number of affiliate campuses, including the Medical School, Peabody Conservatory, and others, are invited to participate in volunteer projects.

Our Autumn Action team included Thread students, volunteers, and staff; PDOS volunteers; students, parents, and staff from Robert W. Coleman Elementary School; as well as JHU Biology Department Dean Dr. Beverley Wendland and JHU Vice Provost of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger. In total, forty-four people worked with Thread to clean and organize a large science and art storage room, a math storage room, and the school’s media center. Teachers can now easily access materials that were once hidden. Additionally, team Thread pumped air into about 75 deflated balls in the gym.

We were one of a handful sites that offered the opportunity to interact with community members who benefitted from the service provided. Although they worked in smaller teams on specific projects, volunteers had the opportunity to get together at lunch, then later, with basketball and flag football games in the gym.

This event is just one aspect of a growing relationship between Thread and the Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. Other programs are planned, including opportunities for our Douglass students to mentor the younger students.

ThreadX tackles the tough issues

On September 25 and November 20, the first two ThreadX programs brought together community members as well as Thread students and volunteers. This series is named after the TedX programs, local versions of the international Ted Talks, which bring together outstanding people in a variety of fields for “ideas worth spreading.”

The first presentation featured Thread student alumni Derick Brown and Kendall Jamison as panelists. Citing research as well as personal experience, panelists discussed how different and similar values characterized upper middle class and lower socio-economic urban communities and how these values affect children growing up in each. Organized by Kendall Jamison, the November program used a segment of the HBO miniseries, “The Corner,” and the character of DeAndre to launch a discussion of how one’s coping skills and propensity to adapt are affected by where he is raised.

Tying the knot

On Saturday, November 22, students and volunteers harvested vegetables for community service, had a potluck meal that included parents and guardians, and were part of a surprise Thread connection.

The Holiday Party began with students and their volunteers participating in a post-commercial glean at Zaradkha Farm in Baltimore County to provide produce to local food banks. In the afternoon, Thread volunteers, and students and their parents and guardians gathered for a pot luck meal and celebration during which everyone wrote down on paper leaves what they were thankful for and added them to the “thankful tree”. A select group of students read their leaves aloud while a slideshow of Thread pictures played in the background. As the show progressed the slides began to include only pictures of Aarynand Nick. Volunteers and students cheered (and even cried) as Nick got down on one knee and asked Aaryn to marry him. She said YES!

Nick, a Thread volunteer and Under Armour employee, had hatched his plan over a month earlier and had worked with staff members to plan the details. When asked why he chose the Holiday Party, Nick replied, “Well, Aaryn loves Thread; she loves her students, and she loves her work. It just seemed like the perfect thing to do.” Afterward, Aaryn, who had been completely surprised, agreed, “That was such a Thread thing to do. What a nice thing for our students to share in.”

We wish Aaryn and Nick all the best!