Most Southwest residents and visitors recognize the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) by the “men and women in blue” you see around the neighborhood. They make up the team that sweeps the curbs, removes trash, plants new trees, adds new neighborhood planters, and works daily to keep our community clean and safe.
While clean and safe is a common motto for BIDs, the SWBID team does so much more than that for our neighborhood. A BID is simply a tool used to help stakeholders collectively plan, fund, and implement projects and supplementary services in their community. It is up to each BID and their stakeholders to determine what that means for their community.
The SWBID team works on projects that bring excitement, activity, and pride to Southwest DC. They work with neighbors to host events like MarketSW, the Duck Drop, Sunday Suppers, Light Up SW, and Pocket Change. At their offices on 4th St. SW, they also convene stakeholders and energize community groups on a range of topics including transportation, hospitality, building management, and the arts.
And those men and women in blue are the SWBID’s neighborhood ambassadors. “The ambassadors are the face of the SWBID, and we couldn’t have asked for a better group” says Steve Moore, executive director of the SWBID. “They take tremendous pride in making SW a great place to live.”
Over the next year, The Southwester will introduce you to the ambassadors. This month the focus is on Terence Matthews, the first person to be hired by the SWBID. Matthews grew up in this very neighborhood so he brings a special love of Southwest to his job.
Meet Terence Matthews of The SWBID
Terence Matthews has worked for the SWBID from day one and he’s very proud of that status. He grew up in Southwest DC, where he attended school at Bowen Elementary (combined later to become Amidon-Bowen), Syphax, and Jefferson.
Matthews worked for the DC Housing Authority for a number of years and then started his own landscaping business. The SWBID staff say Matthews is a very talented landscaper. He was so impressive in his work that today he leads the landscaping team for the SWBID.
Matthews is a popular team member and is known as the company historian. He has many Southwest stories to tell. But his work doesn’t end with the SWBID. He volunteers in the community at the SW Unity Forum. He says he was proud to walk with the SWBID team at the Women’s March and loves to interact with “residential folks.”
Today, Matthews lives in public housing in Southeast DC, where he gets up at 4 a.m. to get to the job he loves in SW. He told me that along his route he meets locals and visitors—he’s like a tour guide—providing directions and giving historical information about the neighborhood. He says the SWBID has made a big difference here—it’s cleaner, safer, has better lighting, and is welcoming.
Moore says, “This profile of Terence is a proud moment for us at the SWBID. He has a talent for gardens, plants, and making public spaces more beautiful. Terence and his 20 fellow ambassadors clean streets, power wash sidewalks, take care of the homeless in SW. They are the work crew for the farmer’s markets and the many other events we produce here in SW.”
SWBID COO Andre Witt says, “Terence was hired because of his successful landscaping capabilities. He is a big part of what makes the SWBID great!”
Fun Facts About Terence Matthews:
Favorite movies: Action
Favorite music: Loves it all—he is a great dancer and keeps the party going!
Favorite song: “Drop the Bomb”
Favorite sports team: All Washington DC teams
Favorite SW spot: Greenleaf Recreation Center
Best thing about his job: Opportunity for advancement
Proudest moment: Being the first employee to wear the SWBID Uniform
Personal goal: Owning his own landscaping business again.
By: Donna Purchase