"You do beautiful work." That was a compliment paid many times over to children who posed proudly beneath their creations during a reception held Feb. 4 at the University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL) to open the third annual President's Outreach Council Art Exhibit and Silent Auction.
The 50 colorful pieces of framed artwork are on display for public bidding through Feb. 25. Thirty were created by children at George Washington Elementary School, including the student who is pictured with his work. Twenty were created by students at Southwest Baltimore Charter School, a public middle school.
It was Jay A. Perman, MD, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), who first told the youngsters how beautiful he found their artwork. In welcoming remarks to a crowd of more than 80 people, he said the exhibit "speaks volumes to the importance we at UMB attach to our partnership with the community."
The staff of HS/HSL attaches great importance to the annual exhibit, said executive director M.J. Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, which has prominent display in the library's Weise Gallery through the final day of the silent auction Feb. 25 when bidding ends at 7 p.m. Buyers can pick up their purchases at the closing reception or arrange for pickup later.
The "beautiful work" theme was echoed in numerous ways as Baltimore City Public School System administrators and parents paid tribute to the UMB President's Outreach Council whose activities are supported by the auction, and to the school system art teachers who helped stage it.
George Washington Elementary Principal Amanda Rice, MA, told the gathering that the art project is "one of many things" the council does for the school, such as mentoring students on healthy living and succeeding in getting the youngsters excited about science.
The work of the President's Outreach Council "makes the school stronger," Rice said. That collaboration was endorsed by Linda Bates, who said the school community welcomes the "positives." She and her husband were among parents of the very youngest artists, who attend pre-kindergarten.
The oldest exhibitors are fifth-graders at the charter school, whose executive director, Erika Brockman, LCSW-C, spoke of the value of having the volunteers present on a regular basis.
The work of the Outreach Council is overseen by Brian Sturdivant, MSW, UMB community affairs director, who said the group of volunteers known as CLUB UMD consists of about a dozen or more regular attendees who provide mentoring and youth leadership to about 20 students at each school.
"Campus engagement with neighboring communities is just part of being a good neighbor. In my home community, I know and interact with my neighbors regularly and I believe that is what we as a campus should do as well," said Sturdivant.
Spring term begins next week, and volunteers are being recruited to participate every Monday, starting Feb. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m. at George Washington and every Wednesday, starting Feb. 16, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Southwest Baltimore Charter School. For information or to register, please visit http://www.oea.umaryland.edu/gov/community/outreach/mentoring.html.
The work of the council is facilitated by School of Social Work students Ron Reaves and Jamie Franke, who are interns in the Office of Government and Community Affairs along with School of Law student Jamar Brown. The School of Law also was represented at the reception by the musical group, Legally Sound. Their performance prompted a quip by Perman, who observed, "This room is full of talent."