Summer days on college campuses display about as much activity as a still-pond. Signs of movement and life are seemingly packed tightly into Avon boxes and stored in the roof rack of the last minivan driving from campus in May. The eerie ghost town feeling on many Universities in July and August is enough to send any employee or summer student running to their nearest travel agent. Yet if Eastwood has taught us anything, there is always one rogue who appears in the vacant town, set on carrying out his duties for better or worse.
This Free online directory focuses on professionals and civilians in search for community services and features more than 2,200 programs
In the heat of this past summer, it was the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) that stirred up the deserted College Park campus by unveiling the Maryland Community Services Locator website (www.mdcsl.org).
This free online directory focuses on professionals and civilians in search of community services, and features more than 2,200 listings for programs assisting in short-term housing, disability services, parole and probation, job readiness/adult education services, HIV/AIDS resources, public interest access sites, victim services and many more. Though originally released with a Baltimore City focus last fall, the recently expanded website also allows users to search organizational contact information, find directions to programs, and map resources by location.
A team of staff members are responsible for patrolling the website for accuracy and their efforts have paid off. The number of visits to the MDCSL homepage since its inception in October 2007 has risen steadily, with the heaviest traffic coming from March 2008 through July 2008. That wave of momentum fueled the number of searches on the website to a new high in August 2008, up 9,189 from 8,767.
“This shows people that are accessing the site are using the site,” says CESAR Faculty Research Assistant Amy Billing of the most recent statistics. “We have a core group of users.”
Billing and CESAR were able to spread the word of their program through the MSBA Leadership Academy’s “Beyond the Bars: A Symposium on Prisoner Reentry” held this past spring. Their presentation took place later in the afternoon of the day-long program, yet still managed to reach many in Maryland’s legal community.
According to Matthew Tidball, one of the ’08 Leadership Academy Fellows that stumbled upon the website while researching for their symposium, judges have begun accessing the sui generis website to provide those that visit their court room with the proper outlets before leaving it.
“Until this website was created,” wrote Tidball in an email, “there was no central database listing such services.”