SOURCE Alumni Newsletter
STORIES OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
In this issue, we have two of our SOURCE student groups, Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition (BSHRC) and Thread, share their work with Baltimore City.
Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition (BSHRC)
The Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition (BSHRC) is a group of students, alumni, health professionals, and community members who promote harm reduction principles through education, advocacy, and trainings. Harm reduction refers to a set of practical, non-judgmental strategies that prevent the negative consequences of people's behavior.
BSHRC had a tremendous year of growth. In 2014, the group started a state-certified overdose response program. This involved teaching community members how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to respond using naloxone, an opioid reversal medication. The program continued through 2015 and BSHRC has trained over 400 community members and health professionals in overdose response, including the distribution of over 300 free naloxone kits to individuals likely to witness an overdose.
During the fall of 2014, BSHRC helped organize the National Harm Reduction Conference in Baltimore, which had the highest ever attendance for a host city. BSHRC also expanded its advocacy efforts by working with the Maryland General Assembly during the 2015 Legislative Session to educate members on the importance of syringe access programs. We hope to see all counties in Maryland, not just Baltimore City, establish syringe access programs, as they are crucial to reducing the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs.
At the beginning of 2015, BSHRC hired a new Executive Director, Mark Sine, to help with sustainability and community networking. BSHRC is excited to move forward with new projects for the coming year, particularly by providing Harm Reduction 101 trainings at local universities. All are welcome to join BSHRC and help with these important educational activities.
From left to right: Volunteers Khristina Rhead, Laura Bartolomei-Hill, BSHRC President Mark Sine, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, and volunteer prescriber for naloxone trainings, Marian Currens
Khristina Rhead and Laura Bartolomei-Hill are volunteers with BSHRC. Marian Currens is a volunteer prescriber for our naloxone trainings.
Thread – Connecting Volunteering to Your Future Career
In 2004, Sarah Hemminger a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHUSOM) graduate student, and her husband, Ryan Hemminger, founded Thread to foster relationships between JHU volunteers and underperforming high school students who were at risk of failing to graduate. A decade later, Thread is weaving together the lives of over 200 high school students, over 675 JHU volunteers, and over 70 collaborators and the results are extraordinary. One hundred percent of students have been retained to the program and 100% of students who have been in Thread for five years have graduated from high school.
Like Thread students, Thread volunteers benefit from forming meaningful relationships with other volunteers, with collaborators, and especially with Thread students. Both volunteers and students quickly recognize and experience the Thread belief that “everybody has something to teach and everybody has something to learn.” Thread also invests significant resources in supporting its volunteers by training them in the Thread Core Competencies of failing successfully, inclusive decision-making, rethinking wealth, and never giving up. As a result, volunteers learn to problem-solve, strategize, and leverage resources effectively, skills that transcend the volunteer experience and impact their future careers.
Two years ago, a group of Johns Hopkins medical students who volunteer with Thread had an idea: to create a series of workshops to amplify the leadership and communication skills learned in Thread and medicine, by drawing attention to critical points of intersection between the two experiences. The result was the development of the four session Thread Impact Series, a partnership between Thread and JHUSOM, designed to link undergraduate, graduate, and medical students and medical professionals. This year, the Series reached 32 participants and focused on applying the medical problem solving model and case presentation frameworks to the participants’ volunteer experiences. Matt Molloy, a SOURCE Service Scholar and long-time Thread volunteer, helped to organize and lead the Thread Impact Series this year. As a SOURCE Service Scholar (SSS), Matt was able to utilize the resources within SOURCE and his additional training in service-learning to build upon and enhance the Series. Matt, whose SSS project was to improve resource utilization by Thread volunteers, developed and implemented a problem-based scenario that was used during Impact Series small groups and taught participants how to identify resources within Thread that they could utilize to address the needs of their students.
Each workshop was comprised of two parts. The first half of each session brought the entire group together to learn from the experiences of veteran Thread volunteers and leaders in the Johns Hopkins medical community. Veteran volunteers shared stories of how they’ve applied Thread’s Core Competencies to work through difficult situations, while Johns Hopkins physicians drew connections between the work volunteers were doing in Thread and their work in the medical field. During the second half of each workshop, volunteers participated in small group activities that included working through a “case scenario” about a student skipping math class. Volunteers then discussed their own student’s challenges and composed a plan of action that addressed the root cause.
The Series has been well-received by participants both years and will be implemented again next year. One volunteer stated “As an incoming HOF [Head of Family, a volunteer leader position], working with my small group to brainstorm ways we could address foreseeable problems was very useful.”