Circle Works: Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 | The BWGC

For anyone with an all-too-common aversion to middle schoolers, you would have been a convert to the joys of that population if you had volunteered for the most recent Circle Works service opportunity.

On May 3, a group of us met approximately 40 middle school students at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW), an all-girl public charter middle and high school in downtown Baltimore. We were able to be part of the service learning required of the students, in this case by making fleece blankets for women cancer patients at Mercy Hospital. Each Circle member worked in a small group of three to five students to craft the blankets. It was a boisterous crowd - we chatted, laughed, and congratulated ourselves for our crafty accomplishments. A little natural competition got thrown into the mix with the girls vying to see which small group could finish a blanket first or make the most blankets. The girls were delightful and we all had tremendous fun.

A BWGC grantee, BLSYW is a very impressive institution. It has a perfect record of college admissions for its high school seniors. The students excel in academics, sports, and the arts. The staff is engaged and engaging. Circle member Lynn Davidov, a Circle Works volunteer for most if not all of our service days, describes the school as "a nurturing, special environment."  She also noted that Circle Works is a vehicle for the Circle itself to be recognized in the community. We are able to make connections with our grantees in a deeper and more personal way than the grant process sometimes allows. Circle member Bunnie Bernstein echoes this sentiment, believing that the Circle serves its mission by giving both financially to the community and actively through Circle Works. 

In addition to the volunteers at BLSYW on May 3, two dozen more members volunteered in other ways: they donated to BLSYW's wish list of undergarments and personal products for its students; they made cookies and purchased other treats for goody bags for the girls; and they prepared snacks for the students and staff to have while making the blankets. For members who cannot attend the Circle Works experience on the scheduled day, these other activities have proven to be very popular.

With each volunteer experience, Circle Works learns more about the best way to engage our members and serve the community. We were able to arrange for two days of service during the 2016-2017 grant season, compared to one each the previous years. We don't know if that pace will continue as some of the factors are beyond our control. Stay tuned for updates from Sherry Billig and Georgia King, the next co-chairs of Circle Works. Thank you to all the members who have made Circle Works a success.