Diane Griffin, profiled in this column a few weeks ago, has been on the receiving end of all kinds of help from people throughout the Baltimore area. She's the East Baltimore woman with two teen-age children, abandoned by her husband a few months ago and threatened with eviction from her rented rowhouse. She wanted a job. She got one.
Diane reports that she will soon start work as an intake worker with the Baltimore County Department of Social Services. It's a full-time job.
She took buses to 15 job interviews over the last two weeks and, Diane says, more than half were firm offers. She liked the DSS job best. "Because," she says, "it will help me help people who have been in my situation and who need to know what services are available to them while they're going through a tough time. I'm very happy. It's a very positive way to start the new year."
Diane received cards, letters and phone calls. More than 80 people called this columnist to either offer a job, advice or some money. One woman donated $500 to Diane's church, which, in turn, gave it to Diane so she could pay December's rent.
Several other checks arrived in the mail and, though Diane had some trouble cashing them -- she did not have a bank account or a driver's license or credit cards for identification -- she says she used the money to catch up on bills. One man brought a Christmas tree and decorations to brighten the Griffin house.
"I'm spending a lot of time writing thank-you notes," Diane says. "I never expected this kind of reaction, but it sure makes you feel good about people."
She's thinking about taking a part-time job as well as the full-time position. Louis Klaitman, president of Lookinglass Inc., a Baltimore-based supplier of party goods, offered Diane a job "doing a little bit of everything." The job involves taking telephone orders, packing goods for shipment, and general clerical work. And the hours are flexible.
Wait! There's more! One of the many phone calls Diane received was from a Taco Bell on Orleans Street, offering her 16-year-old son, Kevin Griffin, a job. Good to go!
Glory to Goucher
Spin, the hipper-than-hip magazine on the arts and music, listed Madison Smartt Bell, writer-in-residence at Goucher College and author of "Save Me, Joe Louis," among its favorite writers for 1993. And here's a kick: Darcey Steinke, a Goucher grad, former student of Bell's and author of "Suicide Blonde," also made the list. They were asked for their favorite readings of the year just ended. Bell listed "Me and Kev," a first novel by Simon Black and called it "one of the weirdest and most wonderful books to turn up this year." Steinke listed Michael Parker's "Hello Down There," centered on a love affair between "an aristocratic morphine addict and a wispy teen-ager from the wrong part of town."
Best friends, indeed
Some time during the evening of Dec. 21, Joe Olszewski collapsed from a stroke in the basement of his Perry Hall home. Mr. Olszewski, a 69-year-old widower who lives alone, lay there for almost four full days before anyone found him. The thing people familiar with this story are quick to point out -- or, at least, speculate on -- is the part Mr. Olszewski's dog might have played in keeping the man alive. The dog, a 13-year-old mixed-breed named Ben, stayed with his master the whole time. Officer Ronald Eastridge, of the Baltimore County Police Department, entered the Olszewski home about noon Christmas Eve, after concerned neighbors called police. Eastridge, Officer Ralph Volk and Lt. Wayne Lauman found Mr. Olszewski unconscious on the basement floor. "And the little dog was right beside him, wedged between the man and the bottom step," Officer Eastridge said. "It took some doing to pry the dog away from the man. It was cold in that basement. Maybe the dog kept him warm." Or perhaps, says Mr. Olszewski's brother, Anthony, the dog helped keep his master at least semi-conscious. Anyway, Joe Olszewski is in Franklin Square Hospital Center now. He's in stable condition, already undergoing physical therapy. "He must have really loved that dog," Officer Eastridge said. "I'll tell you one thing, that dog certainly must have loved him."
Polyglut down under
Tell me this isn't a small world. Two 1990 graduates of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute have wound up in Melbourne, Australia, as contestants in the 14th Annual World Debate Championships. Luke Clippinger, a student at Earlham College in Indiana, took a semester at Aberdeen, Scotland, got raves over there as a debater and tried out for a team to go to "the Worlds" down under. He got the nod. Meanwhile, Raj Prabakar, a Poly classmate of Clippinger's attending the Massaschusetts Institute of Technology, got the nod from his school. Both Poly boys are in Melbourne this very week. We'll let you know what happens.
For a nostalgic documentary, Maryland Public Television is seeking home movies of gone-but-not-forgotten landmarks -- Carlin's Park; Nates and Leon's Deli; the Royal Theater; the Howard Street department stores; old breweries, hotels and restaurants; the Ocean City boardwalk; anything you might have on 8 mm in a shoe box in the attic. If you want to share your footage, call (800) 223-3678, Ext. 4161 or 4229.