By Peter Eicher, Vice President, Friends of Southwest DC

The Friends of Southwest board of directors at the annual meeting. From left: Gladys Hall, Noreen Lyne, Peter Eicher (vice president), Coralie Farlee (president), Jean Sammon (secretary), C.W. Hargrave (treasurer), and Gabriele Strauch. Missing: Joyce Bouvier; Photo by Perry Klein

On March 27, the Friends of Southwest DC annual meeting provided a valuable reminder of how an array of community groups are working to make Southwest a better place. Participants gathered at Westminster Church to hear how grants from Friends of Southwest supported a range of projects and activities to benefit our neighborhood.

Friends of Southwest DC is the oldest organization in our quadrant devoted exclusively to awarding grants to community groups involved in educational, charitable or community development activities. Over the past two decades, it has made small grants to dozens of local groups, most of which have limited fundraising capacity of their own. Friends of Southwest DC derives almost all its revenue from individual donors in our community.

The annual meeting was chaired by Coralie Farlee, the organization’s president. She introduced three members of the Board of Directors who began their work in 2018: Gladys Hall, Noreen Lyne and Gabriele Struach. There is currently one vacancy on the board; community members interested in joining and willing to donate a few hours a month of their time are encouraged to contact any board member for further information. Farlee announced that a generous, anonymous   donor has pledged to match up to $10,000 in contributions received by July 4.

Representatives of community organizations that received grants from Friends of Southwest DC in 2018 made short presentations on how their grants were used. Among them:

  • Christopher Drayton of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity recounted his organization’s successful Community Day at Lansburgh Park and how a grant from Friends of Southwest funded distribution of school supplies as part of the day’s activities.
  • Two representatives of Arena Stage thanked Friends of Southwest DC for providing a grant that supported Jefferson Middle School Academy students’ participation in the theater’s Voices of Now program, and a separate grant that enabled two Southwest students to attend Camp Arena Stage. One camper’s performance was described as “a triumph,” while another performed as lead singer in a rock band.
  • DC STORM (Students Taught Organization and Respect through Mentoring) used its grant to take 15 Jefferson students who can seldom leave the city on an educational/historical/cultural trip to Hampton Roads and Norfolk, Virginia.
  • The EmmaUS Learning Center described how two small grants were used for field trips for SW children to Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center and the National Archives, and, separately, to the Turkey Hill Experience to learn about dairy culture and how ice cream is made. Some of the participants had never been so far from home.
  • Vyllorya Evans of SWNA’s Education Task Force expressed appreciation for four college scholarships funded by Friends of Southwest DC, and played video clips from two of the recipients. Perry Klein described another grant in support of SWNA’s “Computers for Kids” program.
  • The Waterfront Village catalogued its activities in support of senior citizens, which were made possible in part through a grant from Friends of Southwest DC, its third grant in as many years.

Throughout these presentations and in subsequent comments, grantees and neighbors underscored how much can be accomplished for our community through cooperation among neighborhood groups. Attendee Bonnie Harris commented that these were “wonderful initiatives” highlighting what great work can be accomplished through small donations. Jay Shorter of DC STORM concluded that “what you do for this community is unreal.”

For more information on the work of Friends of Southwest DC, including the latest annual report and details on how to contribute or apply for a grant, visit the organization’s website, For a hard copy of the annual report, contact Joyce Bouvier at 202-488-4419.

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