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Hopkins’ Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Featured James Earl Jones


January 13, 2006, In what has become a much-anticipated annual tradition, Johns Hopkins Medicine honored the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. with tributes, music and community service awards during this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration. The celebration took place this afternoon in Turner Auditorium. Headlining the annual tribute was keynote speaker James Earl Jones, one of America’s most celebrated actors and a leading advocate for arts and literacy programs.

“Dr. King proved that there are indeed no boundaries for men and women dedicated to moving forward, and James Earl Jones continues that legacy,” said Levi Watkins, M.D., associate dean for postdoctoral programs at the School of Medicine and professor of cardiac surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Watkins launched the MLK commemoration in 1982.

Five employees, three from The Johns Hopkins Hospital and two from The Johns Hopkins University, as well as two students from the School of Medicine received the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Awards for Community Service from Hopkins in recognition of their volunteer community work during 2005. (A complete list of winners with a description of their contributions is attached.)

This year’s ceremony included a special memorial tribute to civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who died in October 2005. When Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, her subsequent arrest sparked a boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus line that lasted 381 days and led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal on public buses.

The presentation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Ideals Award this year was presented to keynote speaker Jones and United States Senator Paul S. Sarbanes in recognition of their outstanding service and commitment to King’s principles.

Jones has traveled the nation on behalf of child literacy, and Senator Sarbanes, who is retiring from the Senate, has for 30 years supported every major civil rights and anti-discrimination bill.

Watkins again presided as master of ceremonies. Unified Voices, a chorus of Hopkins employees and community members, provided entertainment during the commemoration.

Previous keynote speakers have included The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Cicely Tyson, Danny Glover, Coretta Scott King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rosa Parks, Dick Gregory, Andrew Young, Stevie Wonder, Kweisi Mfume, Julian Bond, Maya Angelou, Taylor Branch and Hopkins surgeons Ben Carson and Watkins.

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Awards

Michael Beer
Professor Emeritus of Biophysics and Former Associate Dean for Research, The Johns Hopkins University
Since his retirement more than a decade ago, Michael Beer has annually devoted hundreds of hours to maintaining the park that borders Stoney Run Creek just north of Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. Tending the trail along both sides of the creek, he’s nurtured a congenial habitat for Baltimore orioles, pileated woodpeckers and other native birds, and has often used his own personal funds to acquire and plant trees and shrubs that are natural to the area. Thanks to Beer’s attention to fostering this wilderness amid the city, hundreds of students and neighborhood residents can enjoy walking, running and biking in a quiet, calming, beautiful environment.

Temekia Butler
Office and Facilities Manager, Johns Hopkins HealthCare
Tapping her on-the-job problem-solving and organizational skills, Temekia Butler has plunged into the monetary intricacies of the Baltimore County public school system. As chairperson of the Capital Budget Committee for the PTA Council of Baltimore County, she reviews the budget, attends hearings and provides training and workshops, and annually advocates for additional funding in Annapolis. Butler also initiated Johns Hopkins HealthCare’s relationship with nearby North Glen Elementary School, where she mentors students and volunteers regularly. Among the numerous other causes she’s embraced are the Police Athletic League, a yearly holiday gift drive for the homeless in Baltimore City, the annual fund-raising walks for both the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Heart Association, and the Environmental Assessment Committee for Baltimore County Schools.

Rajiv Devanagondi
Second-Year Student, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
From the moment he set foot on the Homewood campus as a freshman in 2000, Rajiv Devanagondi began volunteering with the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project, a program that provides one-on-one help in reading and math for elementary school children. By his senior year, Devanagondi was one of two student directors of the program, overseeing daily operations and the scheduling and testing of 60 children. Now amid his medical studies, he’s been volunteering at the Caroline Street Clinic for the Uninsured since it opened in 2004, as well as at the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. He also stepped forward to help organize the first East Baltimore Community Talent Show, a hugely successful production staged in March 2005 in Turner Auditorium to showcase neighborhood singers, dancers, poets, rappers and comedians.

Patricia Engblom
Assistant Administrator, Department of Medicine Outpatient Operations, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
As president of the Junior League of Baltimore, Patricia Engblom leads an organization that last year volunteered nearly 40,000 hours of community service. Her group’s mission-to promote volunteerism, develop the potential of women, and improve the community through the effective leadership and action of trained volunteers-is one that Engblom has embraced for nearly two decades. She’s tutored elementary-school and GED students, joined advocacy efforts for people affected by domestic violence, coordinated a health fair, conducted an annual giving campaign, written grants for program support, chaired numerous Junior League committees and served on its board of directors. Last year, Engblom used her vacation to complete the Leadership Baltimore County program, a class of competitively chosen candidates trained to assume leadership roles with regional nonprofit organizations.

Carol Gentry
Nurse Manager, Pediatric Service, General Operating Room Evening, Night, Trauma, The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Working closely with Hopkins volunteer Kay Donnelly for nearly a decade, Carol Gentry has been one of the prime movers behind Project Share, a labor-intensive program that salvages unused medical and surgical supplies from the hospital’s operating rooms, sterilizes the items, and sorts and packages them for shipment to developing countries. She understands the need firsthand, having joined medical missions to Guyana, Lourdes, Kenya, Gaza, China, Romania and Venezuela. Yet her volunteer reach is also local. At her church, Gentry’s been helping coordinate the preparation and delivery of gift baskets to needy families during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for 10 years, and she’s long been lending a hand with the Cooperative Food Ministry, which regularly provides meals to low-income families. An annual participant in the Children’s Center telethon, Gentry also coordinated a team of Hopkins volunteers that included nurses, surgeons and techs who helped build “Annie’s Playground” in memory of a hospital patient.

Sarah Hemminger
Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Two years ago, Sarah Hemminger asked Dunbar High School for the names of its 10 worst students. Given 20 names, Hemminger enlisted 15 biomedical engineering graduate students and medical students for a concept she called the Incentive Mentoring Program. She and her recruits not only began to mentor the 20 Dunbar students after school but required them to pass the good along by working one Saturday each month in such organizations as soup kitchens and becoming mentors themselves to local grade-school students. After a single semester in the program, 70 percent of the Dunbar students passed all their courses; after two years, it was 80 percent. Two students received all A’s, and two have been awarded college scholarships. Today, Hemminger’s cadre of mentors has grown to 60, and she’s set up an administrative structure to ensure that her program can continue after she graduates.

Willie Ray Horne
Nurse Clinician IIM, Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Having successfully launched his own two children into adulthood, Willie Ray Horne began volunteering two years ago with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Maryland. In addition to speaking at board meetings and community centers, Horne has taken under his wing a 12-year-old boy with whom he spends the day at least twice a month. He’s not only included the youngster in his family vacation but actively encourages his interest in school and sports. “You have changed my life for the better,” the boy has written to Horne. “I will always remember everything you and I do together and everything you taught me.” Horne also coaches baseball, basketball and soccer in Woodlawn, Randallstown and Owings Mills and is involved in prison ministry through Zion Baptist Church. In recognition of his commitment to service, Horne was a 2004 finalist for the Baltimore Ravens’ Community Quarterback Award.


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