There is momentum building in Baltimore. And people like Judith Kuzmak are abuzz. The founder of the Baltimore Do-Gooders – Judith Kuzmak – is part of an amazing group of individuals working in Baltimore to think outside the box to foster alliances and networks to help make Baltimore a better place to live, work and play.
As noted on its website, Baltimore Do-Gooders are individuals who care about Baltimore and will do what they can to make Baltimore more together. Whether it is raising their children the best they can, going to one fundraiser a year, donating a can of food to a shelter or volunteering, people who get involved with the Baltimore Do-Gooders are making a conscious decision to create positive change in Baltimore. “…as a collective [The Baltimore Do-Gooders] encourages and supports each other in their effort to do the best we can whether it’s being a better parent, putting on a fundraiser, being involved in school outreaches, or self acceptance,” said Kuzmak.
A portal of good works, the Baltimore Do-Gooder’s success depends largely on the contribution of others. It provides a structured venue for people to give back to Baltimore, to share advice on practical ways to help (including helping yourself), and to network for fundraisers and resources for local projects that help to enhance and/or enrich the lives of Baltimoreans. Many of those involved with the organization work in non-profits, run local businesses and perform throughout the arts community.
Source: Judith Kuzmak
When asked what prompted her to launch the Baltimore Do-Gooders Kuzmak replied, “Two things prompted me to launch Baltimore Do-Gooders: a personal change and an opportunity. There was a deep internal personal change that occurred when my mom started doing foster care over five years ago. I helped care for nearly fifty precious youth from our city. Holding a precious infant going through the pains of drug withdrawal changed me at the core. Everything is not OK in the world, in all our cities, in all our neighborhoods, in all our families, in all our parents, in all our children. No moms did drugs while pregnant where I grew up in my privileged safe suburban Baltimore area where neighbors helped raise each other’s children; there was a strong community. Was what I had rare? I wondered what needs were not being met in those mothers for them to need to retreat from life (do drugs)? Why are infants being born addicted common? Was our system failing them? Was there a loss of hope? I don’t know where those babies are other than most likely in Baltimore. I have to do something and I will do what I can. My heart for change surpasses this group and I would say this is consistent with the members. The group may be a vehicle used for change, but it is not change. People need to step up for change.”
Celebrating its one year anniversary, the Baltimore Do-Gooders is building off of the spirit of Kuzmak’s classmates who completed an interdisciplinary HIV/AIDS class at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. During the class, the speakers shared that they wanted more interdisciplinary activities, events to bring the students together from different schools (Law, Dental, Pharmacy, Nursing, Public Health, and Social Work) to network and take action in Baltimore.
Source: Judith Kuzmak
“Baltimore Do-Gooders has helped me through a really hard time. I started the group in January 2009, and I found out in mid-February of that same year that my Mom had a rare form of breast cancer. She went through chemo, a mastectomy, chemo again, radiation, and radiation again. During this period, I was trying to help my Dad with my younger siblings (6 and 11 at the time). I had the help of three other older siblings and a huge team. We did have over thirty people helping with food, babysitting, and mom-sitting near the end. With ALL of this help, it was exhausting and overwhelming. My little siblings are great, but the stress of the situation…my mom’s life at stake was exhausting. One way I gain energy is from volunteering, but I didn’t have the time for it. This group was my outlet. My ability to help in the community while being at home was a blessing. I did what I could. When my Mom passed last October, I shared with the Baltimore Do-Gooders Facebook Group. Over thirty people – most of whom have had experiences with death from a teenager to an elderly person and all races, sizes, shapes – responded with loving words. This is what I would love to see happen more: people being able to be open, honest, and vulnerable, while others help those individuals heal, grow, and not feel so isolated; a supportive community, ” said Kuzmak.
The Baltimore Do-Gooder’s Facebook group is probably the easiest way to get involved and stay connected. The group encourages support from the young and the old and provides updates regarding local fundraisers, one-time volunteer opportunities, and free talks.
For more info: Visit www.baltimoredogooders.com or email [email protected] for more details.