By Guy Aldridge
Ward 6’s annual Brickies award ceremony returned to an in-person format at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital on December 7 after two years of virtual ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the internet age, some workplaces and organizations are wondering if a “return to normal” is necessary or even desired. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and his staff responded last month by making sure the event was big and joyous.
Local businesses donated food and drinks and neighbors caught up with each other for more than an hour before the awards were presented. Satellite rooms with TVs were set up to provide enough capacity for all visitors to have enough elbow room in the standing-room only ceremony.
Award recipients were introduced by a video submitted by community members, brought to the podium to give a short speech, and given a ceremonial brick inscribed with each person or entity’s name and award. The five categories for 2022 were Neighbor Award, Community Organization Award, Business Award, Public Service Award, and Civic Pride Award.
Southwest was represented well at the 2022 Brickies. First on the agenda, the Friends of Southwest DC won the Community Organization Award for its grants to local organizations, which it is able to give thanks to grassroots fundraising efforts. In 2022, the organization awarded over $50,000 in grants to 16 local nonprofits, college scholarships, food pantries, and more.
Friends of Southwest board member Peter Eicher accepted the award on behalf of the organization. He reminded the room that the grants are made possible in large part due to small donations by residents, and that any group looking for extra funding should apply for one.
Three award winners came from other corners of Ward 6. Jerome Jeffries, the “Mayor of 10th Street,” won the Neighbor Award for a variety of good deeds, such as helping neighbors roll back their trash cans, keeping packages safe, cleaning up leaves, and more.
The popular H Street NE watering hole The Queen Vic won the Business Award for not only its central place in the Northeast community, but its outreach and organizing during the pandemic. The Civic Pride Award was given to the Save Mott’s Market group, which organized to buy the building that housed a corner store on 12th Street SE when it closed after more than 100 years in business. Now the grassroots ownership group is working to renovate and reopen the store.
The Brickies concluded with Southwest’s own Nathaniel “Coach Skip” Green from the King-Greenleaf Recreation Center winning the Public Service Award. If the ceremony were a symphony, here it reached its crescendo. Many of Green’s family, friends, and players came to cheer for him and make sure the Hill Center was wall-to-wall.
Coach Skip was nominated due to his dedication to the community and the “deeply impactful, individual relationships with young people,” often in the face of “difficult” or “traumatic things,” Allen said. Green was tasked four years ago to get football started in Southwest with 25 players, he told the audience, and now there are over 600 kids participating in a variety of sports at King-Greenleaf.
After the ceremony concluded, Coach Skip reminded The Southwester that he isn’t the only one in his orbit dedicated to community service. In May and June 2021, his son, Nate Green, co-organized Southwest Sports on a Truck, a COVID-19-safe series of sporting events.
With the Brickies going strong after 16 years, readers may make note of exceptional public service in the coming months to make nominations for the 2023 awards.