9.16.2016 – Centro SOL launched the Hispanic Heritage Month with two celebrations: on September 13 at the undergraduate campus at Johns Hopkins University, a documentary screening that shared the stories of undocumented Latino students who demonstrate that perseverance, hard work, and dreams can never be defeated. And on September 16 with the Liver Rounds at the School of Medicine, an opportunity for students and faculty to meet out of a classroom setting. During the Liver Rounds, it is our pleasure to award two outstanding members of the Hopkins family who dedicate their time to support our mission and serve the most vulnerable. This year, the community service award was received by Joseph O’Hagan, staff member from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Elisabetta Hobbins, student at Johns Hopkins University. Joe and Elisabetta, have put their knowledge, their hearts and souls to work with children in our programs.
Joe has been working with Embajadores de Salud, and sometimes with Testimonios, doing child supervision since May 2015. He not only “helps”, but he works with the children on creating bonds as a community, and a collaboration environment. Children learn how to better interact with each other, and be more generous with their peers and the adults. Some children have behavioral issues, but with Joe, they are kids again. He also interacts with the parents, supporting them in anything they need.
Elisabetta has been working with Testimonios since September 2015. She eventually became the volunteer in charge from SALUD (an undergraduate students group at JHU), to provide child supervision, and homework support. She has not only supported the program, but also has become a life-changer. She has identified what children need, and has helped them to succeed in their dreams to get educated.
My name is Joe O’Hagan. I’m one of ten children from a loving Irish-American family and I’ve also been blessed with three wonderful children of my own. I work at Johns Hopkins University and I am also pursuing my master’s degree at JHU (Film & Media). I am a proud descendant of immigrants. I honor my ancestors by welcoming good people from faraway places to the USA and helping with health and opportunity.
The best part of every week is Saturday mornings at Embajadores de Salud when niños allow me the opportunity to learn life lessons from them. They are the teachers and I am the student. We have so much fun! Their hearts and souls are a blessing in this world and I feel so fortunate to be involved in their lives. My life is also enriched by the deep friendships I’ve made through Centro SOL.
My name is Elisabetta Hobbins and I am a senior pre-med and Public Health major at Johns Hopkins. I have been involved in Latino outreach programs in Baltimore throughout my undergraduate career, but working with Centro Sol has been the most fulfilling of all. We started Testimonios Tutoring Project out of Centro Sol’s need for child supervision and now volunteers from our JHU Salud Club fill that need every week. Tutoring, mentoring, and playing games with every age from tots to teens on Tuesday nights is the highlight of my week. It’s always great to get out of the campus bubble and spend time with the kids. If we didn’t learn a lot from each other that day, at the very least we spent most of it laughing, playing our dismembered Candy Land with Monopoly game pieces. On a serious note, some of these youth have been through a lot and their resilience is truly inspirational. They have even helped me get through stressful weeks because for those two hours we spend together, my sole focus is trying to teach a five-year-old how to play Cadoodle or helping a third grader with her math homework. I have gotten to know many of the children and their parents in the past year and I look forward to continuing to strengthen those bonds this coming year. Thank you to Mónica Guerrero, Dr. Page, Dr. Cook, moderators, and other volunteers for making Testimonios possible.
The 2016 Centro SOL Community Service Award was sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Latino Alliance.