Photo caption: The Friends of Southwest board (L to R): Farley Fisher, Coralie Farlee, Rodney Ross, Cecilie Jones, C.W. Hargrave, Jean Sammon, and Joyce Bouvier.

Photo courtesy of Perry Klein.

At the Friends of Southwest DC (FOS) annual meeting on March 29 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, the residents in attendance got a reminder of what their donations mean to Southwest DC, and also how they can help FOS continue to make a difference.

President Coralie Farlee announced that every dollar donated by July 4 will be worth three dollars, thanks to an anonymous donor who will double match the donation, up to $10,000 (see the ad in this issue of The Southwester).

President Farlee emphasized that FOS is a neighborhood organization, funded primarily by neighborhood residents, for local organizations that support Southwest youth, seniors, and others; and that the volunteer FOS board keeps administrative expenses low: More than 95% of donations went to grants in 2015.

At each annual meeting, the organizations who received FOS grants have the opportunity to describe how the grants make a difference in the lives of people in Southwest. This year, we heard many moving stories.

Julia Malecki and Anita Maynard of Arena Stage related how local youth discovered their creativity, social skills, and confidence through their involvement with the arts at Camp Arena Stage. They also talked about how they enjoyed seeing the students from Jefferson Academy grow and flourish over the years during their participation in Arena’s Voices of Now program. They expressed their gratitude to FOS for making this possible by grants to both programs. (The Voices of Now festival at Arena Stage, taking place May 18-21, is open to the public.)

Emma Ward of EmmaUS gave some examples of what students learn on trips to the National Archives in DC and the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Yes, they learn a lot about important people and documents that helped establish the United States, but they also learn geography while navigating interstate highways, and financial literacy as they budget their spending money. Some of them have never been out of DC before, so this is an exciting opportunity for them. FOS has given grants for these trips for several years.

Monica Evans, co-leader of the Southwest Girl Scout troop, described what it was like for the girls to experience life on the Underground Railroad at a FOS-funded overnight trip to the Chesapeake Children’s Museum, where they even met Harriet Tubman!

Paul Taylor organizes the SW Comm-Unity Forum “Summer in Lansburgh Park” every year. Hundreds of current and former SW residents enjoy this event. Kids can ride the carnival rides (funded by FOS) while adults can join in various activities, including learning about SW history and services provided by SW nonprofits.

Vyllora Evans and Audrey Hinton of the SWNA Scholarship Committee brought videos of Kiana and Tiffany Livingston, the two students whose college scholarships were funded by FOS. It was a nice surprise to hear from the students themselves, even though they were away at college. They described how their first semester experience helped shape their plans for the future.

Perry Klein talked about the computer centers that the SWNA Technology Task Force was able to set up at Syphax Gardens, Greenleaf Gardens, and James Creek with grants from FOS. Students use the computers at James Creek to do their homework, and all members of the community can use the computers at Syphax and Greenleaf for job searches, education, and other needs.

Thelma Jones was able to attend the National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocate Leadership Summit because of an FOS grant. She was passionate about how important this coalition is to finding a cure, and for helping Thelma educate and advocate to reduce the disproportionately high mortality rates in the African-American community, especially in Ward 6.

Donors and other residents at the meeting had the opportunity to share ideas with the representatives of the grantee organizations and the FOS board.

Current board members are Coralie Farlee, president; Rodney Ross, vice president; C.W. Hargrave, treasurer; Jean Sammon, secretary; Joyce Bouvier ; Cecilie Jones; and Farley Fisher.

By: Jean Sammon

Friends of Southwest DC Secretary

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