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Giving twice

To mark her 50th birthday last fall, Molly Shock donated $50,000 to establish a scholarship fund for 26 kindergartners at Halstead Academy who brightened her life in the year after her husband died. Shock and her mother-in-law are volunteer reading tutors at the Baltimore County school.

Giving felt so good, Shock said, that she decided to keep going.

Now, Shock is teaming with the father of Alan Marvel, who, like her husband, graduated from Towson High School and died young. Marvel was an accountant who died in 1990 at age 38 of cancer. Stephen Shock, senior executive vice president at MBNA America, died in January 2002 at age 49 of cancer treatment complications.

Molly Shock contributed $30,000, and Martin Marvel contributed $10,000 to set up another scholarship fund. The interest on the money, about $1,000, will be awarded annually to a Towson High School senior planning a career in business.

"I've struck again," Shock said. "I'm really excited about it."

-- Sara Neufeld

City's new residents

Just when you thought Baltimore had enough vices, along comes sloth.

Actually, several sloths -- of the mammal variety. And Baltimore Zoo officials say that when the sloths get here, it will be a good thing.

A team of animal health professionals, including some from the Baltimore area, left for Costa Rica over the weekend to provide medical assistance to sloths at an animal rescue center there, and to give advice on how the slow-moving creatures should be cared for. Because many of the sloths in the rescue cannot be rehabilitated to be returned to the wild, some will be brought to the Baltimore Zoo.

Among the assistance team that went to Central America were folks from the zoo and the Falls Road Animal Hospital, a veterinarian-turned-astronaut, and a trainer for a company that provides animals for movies.

Depending on export and import permit procedures and quarantine requirements, the sloths -- which do most things, including eating and sleeping, hanging upside down -- will be introduced to Charm City by the summer, a zoo spokesman said. They will be on exhibit at the zoo, or travel to schools and community centers as part of the ensemble cast that makes up the zoo's Animal Embassy.

-- Bill Ordine

And for dessert ...

Mayor Martin O'Malley's administration has prided itself on being able to "stat" anything. The concept is this: The statistically driven performance measurement standards used by the CitiStat department can be used to improve accountability in any public agency.

The school system is doing SchoolStat to get a grip on its finances. There's also Vacant Housing Stat, DPWStat for the Department of Public Works and LeadStat for lead-poisoning programs.

Now comes Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson with an increased effort to reduce Baltimore's vermin population.

"Not to be cute about it, but we're calling it RatStat," Beilenson told the City Council during its luncheon last Monday. Many council members and staffers begged for Beilenson to hold his report until after they had eaten.

--Doug Donovan

Renowned humor

He may be one of America's most prominent black intellectuals, but when Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. spoke in Baltimore on Friday, he showed that he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

As the renowned scholar addressed an auditorium full of students at New All Saints Catholic Church, he recounted how his father worked two jobs for 37 years to put him and his brother, an oral surgeon, through college.

When Gates asked his father what he would like for his 90th birthday, the elder Gates -- who has a 77-year-old girlfriend -- replied: "All I want for my birthday is to bump Bob Dole from that Viagra commercial."

The crowd erupted in laughter.

Gates appeared at the church with Mayor Martin O'Malley to mark the opening of the city's third Martin Luther King Jr. After-School Program. The initiative is intended to bridge the "digital divide" by using computers and Encarta Africana, a multimedia encyclopedia of African and African-American history co-edited by Gates, to provide educational activities and Internet access to city youth.

-- Johnathon E. Briggs

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