Catherine Green probably never realized the impression she was having on Marie Givens, but she helped create a community activist.
That was when Marie Givens was in elementary school and Green, a Baltimore guidance counselor, enrolled Givens in a youth program that exposed her to the arts and sciences through field trips and other activities.
Today, Marie Givens Redd, 40, is director of marketing for Liberty Medical Center, the 282-bed, acute-care hospital in West Baltimore. There, she says, her job is to sell the hospital "to the community, to physicians and -- in house -- to employees."
But, more pertinent to Green's influence is that Givens helped create two city youth programs that focus on career and personal development.
"I had a tremendous amount of help when I was growing up," says Redd, who also credits her mother, Hazel Givens, a teacher.
"I've had mentors to walk me through things. I can punch up people on the phone and say, 'I need help with something,' and I get help," she continues. "All of the time and energy that has been put into my development, I feel I should return in the form of community service."
One way Redd returns the favor is through the Incentive Connection, a program she created under the auspices of the Baltimore Marketing Association, a professional organization of black accounting, marketing and computer executives.
The Incentive Connection, which began five years ago, has culled more than 350 students with "C" averages from three city high schoolsand paired them with mentors. The mentors, who work in professions that the students are interested in pursuing, are recruited by Redd.
At first a program for black males, it has recently been expanded to include females as well as whites and Asians.
Redd says she has found that average high school students are very often "the leaders of tomorrow" but are simply "late bloomers." The information they get from their mentors is sometimes their first exposure to an occupation other than that of their parents.
"We try to just open their minds up to the fact that if there is anything they want to do, there are all kinds of ways of doing that," Redd says.
The program also assists the students by helping through college admissions, identifying scholarships or choosing apprenticeship programs.
1% A second effort by Redd is an off
shoot of the Baltimore Urban League's Summer Youth Work Education Program, which offers summer work-study for city high school students.
The Self Awareness Forum began four years ago and takes close to 1,000 young women from the summer work program and counsels them on good communication habits, health and grooming, and identifying career goals. About 1,000 women have been assisted so far, Redd said.
While much of the program focuses on career development, there also are intensive sessions that deal with personal development and cover such issues as dating and relationships.
"Some of the girls have to be told that it's all right to say 'no,' " Redd explains.
The program's career forums are more than perfunctory career days. Last year, the forum was held at Coppin State College and allowed each youth to meet one on one for 20 minutes with professionals in communications, engineering, elected government, computers and military service.
Redd, who joined the Liberty Medical Center staff two months ago, was formerly director of public relations for the Urban League. The transition was from one service-oriented job to another, but Givens said she feels "blessed to be able to do the kind of work I love."
Still, work is hectic. Many days start at 7 a.m. and run late into the evening, she said. Sixty-hour work weeks are not unusual. And those are the hours she clocks before she heads off to meetings outside the office.
While she says that allocating her time between her job, the community and home is difficult -- she is the wife of Samuel Redd, owner of Redd Funeral Home -- she never gets discouraged.
Paraphrasing Scripture, she says, "To whom much is given, much is required."