As the sun set on downtown Baltimore on April 10, buildings on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) came alive with color to honor the dedicated health care workers, first responders, and other essential employees who are risking their lives every day in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
UMB buildings are awash in red light, while UMMC Downtown and Midtown campuses are bathed in blue. The initiative, called “Lights of Hope for Our Front-Line Heroes,” was inspired by a nationwide call to recognize the tireless work of all those working on the front lines, from health care workers, to first responders, to grocery store clerks.
In Charlotte, N.C., buildings glowed green, and in New York, the Empire State Building radiated in red light. Many cities have chosen to go blue, and UMB will be adding blue lights in the coming weeks as well.
At dusk, crimson lights can be seen glowing from the Health Sciences and Human Services Library on Lombard and Greene streets; Health Sciences Research Facility (HSRF) I and HSRF II on Baltimore and Penn streets; HSRF III and Pharmacy Hall on Pine Street; and from the University’s most iconic building, Davidge Hall, on Lombard Street.
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Michael Ahlfeldt, the supervisor of UMB’s electrical shop, and a skeleton crew of three electricians spent a week installing 300 red LED bulbs around UMB’s campus. “We wanted to go red in support of the doctors, the nurses, lab techs, and our scientists on campus,” he said. “We want to show some kind of appreciation to let them know that we're thinking of them while they're working long hours.”
The long hours the electricians usually put in to illuminate UMB were considerably condensed for this project. In normal times, it takes a crew of eight electricians two to three weeks to light up campus buildings in color. The most recent time was when the Ravens were a top seed in the NFL playoffs in January and Davidge Hall glowed with purple pride.
The “Lights of Hope” project was completed in just one week in an effort to keep spirits raised as essential workers put in long hours to help sustain a healthy community.
“We normally do this to support the Orioles or the Ravens in their championship battles,” said Melissa A. Morland, MS, RBP, CBSP, acting director of facilities operations and maintenance, “but right now our home team is our front-line health care workers fighting to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”