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Volunteer Spotlight: Rodica Johnson

September 11, 2018
For Rodica Johnson, what started out as a volunteer tribute to her late husband, Lincoln, became dedicated volunteer service and leadership for GBMC's Volunteer Auxiliary.

In 2003 – two years after her husband passed away – Rodica returned to GBMC, the place that had cared for her husband during his extended stay.

"He was here for seven weeks from the time he was admitted to the time he passed away," Rodica said. "I decided I wanted to volunteer that number of hours – seven weeks times 24, so 1,176 hours. But instead, I ended up being here 15 years.

"A little bit longer than originally anticipated," she added with a smile.

Eight thousand hours of volunteer service is a tribute to her commitment, but Rodica took her role a step further in 2009 when she became president of GBMC's Volunteer Auxiliary. She felt a distinct pride in leading a group that gives so meaningfully to GBMC. During her tenure, the Auxiliary gave a generous $500,000 gift to name the waiting area in the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute as part of the facility's renovation.

In addition to facilitating gifts through the Auxiliary, Rodica faithfully makes an annual gift to GBMC to honor Lincoln or support a project of interest. She has also established a charitable gift annuity to further the work of GBMC, and received a charitable income tax deduction and a lifetime of income. In her ultimate commitment to GBMC, Rodica joined the Elizabeth Duncan Yaggy Society by making a bequest to GBMC to establish the Rodica I. Johnson Fund for Oncology Patient Care and Support Services. Although she was hesitant for the endowed fund to include her name, she hopes her story inspires others to consider making a meaningful gift to GBMC.

The Philanthropy Department in particular is grateful for Rodica, and not just because of her generous commitments. Since 2011, she has served as a volunteer for the office. Coming in once a week to help stuff envelopes for mailings, do research or database administration, tasks slightly akin to what she did while working for Maryland Public Television from 1973 to 1985.

"Of course when I worked for Maryland Public TV, there were no computers in offices so research was not really happening that much," Rodica said. "But we had membership drives which still exist and I worked on those – not on-camera, but off-camera – all for the purpose of fundraising."

Maryland Public Television was Rodica's first job out of college. She attended Goucher College in 1968. Originally from Princeton, NJ, Rodica came to Baltimore because the idea of attending an all-women's college was appealing to her.

"I wanted to really focus on education," Rodica said. "I thought I would be more focused on learning if I went to an all-women's college."

Goucher might be what drew Rodica to Baltimore, but Lincoln was the reason she stayed. A professor of art history at Goucher, the couple married in 1974 and were married for 26 years. Now, so many years later, Baltimore is home. And so is GBMC.

"I like the place. I like the people. I like being able to be useful, of service," Rodica said. "That's why I keep coming back. A friend of mine's grandmother once said, 'it keeps you off the street.'"

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