By The Southwester Staff

The Bridge Team and Thelma D. Jones; Courtesy of Author

For the third time since the pandemic occurred, the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Team (FDMB) has partnered with the Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF) to give back or pay it forward. Their ongoing efforts remind the Breast Cancer Fund that the bridge’s progress has not just beenon the physical bridge but also in rebuilding bridges in the local community, especially with the seniors and immune compromised residents at River Park in Southwest. 

Started through a connection during the SWNA’s Forum in early 2020, in which the FDMB Management was a participant and Thelma D. Jones was a lead organizer, the two continue to bridge connections in the community and make a significant difference. 

In March, the FDMB team arrived with boxes full of PPEs, supplies, and canned food for the seniors and immune compromised residents at River Park. The thankful residents were overjoyed with the variety of necessary items that they could barely contain themselves: “Wow! Oh my! This is a lot of good stuff! Can I get one of everything? Thank you, Thank you! Those folks (FDMB) are so nice, bless them and you, too!” said one happy resident. These were just some of the comments, punctuated with smiling faces while selecting the desired items. 

Coupled with the two previous pay it forward events, the March event afforded nearly 70 seniors and immune compromised residents – a total of over 200 for the three events – a way to avoid the risk of venturing out to stores in what was still a risky environment. It also provided a cost savings to them as many, if not all our seniors, are on fixed incomes with limited resources and mobility restrictions. In addition, the event afforded an opportunity for the participants to enjoy a bit of fresh air, exercise, and socialization, as they often had limited opportunities to connect with others in a socially distanced environment. To see a video of the event, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxDvfivSQlw.

Equally important, the participants were able to receive literature on breast health appreciated seeing and receiving reminders on the FDMB’s progress, which they hope to venture across soon. While TDJBCF Founder travels across the bridge frequently, only a limited number of the seniors and immune compromised residents have seen the bridge in its present state of completion. Through a commitment from the FDMB team, the participants will journey across the bridge and perhaps tour the Frederick Douglass home in Anacostia, as well, when the pandemic restrictions allow this type of activity.

The TDJBCF was pleased with the overall support from the River Park Management and FDMB team in coordinating and setting up the event in a festive and decorative fashion. A special thanks to Patrice Brooks for her overall efforts. Also, the TDJBCF was pleased to connect with the FDMB Project Management Team again. “It is gratifying to know that the FDMB Management cares enough to participate in activities of this nature during your busy schedule. I salute and applaud you and trust that you will pass on our sincerest thanks to those who donated and contributed to the event’s success,” said TDJBCF Founder Thelma D. Jones. 

The FDMB Management team surprised Jones with a beautiful Easter Basket filled with special personal and welcomed items. That surprise complemented the event’s success and enabled Jones and the dedicated volunteers to feel a sense of gratitude and accomplishment. Jones thanked the FDMB Management team again for their “continued bridge building efforts, including bridging gaps to help a vulnerable population in our community during an unprecedented era.”

Furthermore, the FDMB Management team shared with Jones information about an upcoming outreach effort at Martha’s Table and invited her to read The Book of Yawns by Carolyn Blasinsky for the students (ages birth to 4-year-old) at Martha’s Table, who will also receive copies of the book. A few weeks later, the team filmed Jones in the River Park lobby as she animatedly read the book for the students. (A video of Jones reading can be seen  here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C08jNTgvPI.) In appreciation of their partnership effort, the FDMB team featured Founder Jones in the Spring 2021 edition of their Progress Magazine, In Their Words: Thelma D. Jones, which Jones has been passing out freely at River Park and throughout the community. A link to the  article can be found here: https://www.newfrederickdouglassbridge.com/newsletters.

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