Jean Sammon of Friends of Southwest, kneeling in blue sweater, at Amidon-Bowen Elementary. Courtesy of the Author
By Regina Harrison, Friends of Southwest DC Board member
Jean Sammon first read about Friends of Southwest (FOS) DC right here in The Southwester, and since the 2000’s, she has been a donor and supporter of the organization’s work, increasing her engagement following her retirement.
I interviewed Jean Sammon to talk about – and celebrate – the 25 years of locally-based service that Friends of Southwest DC has provided to neighbors, students, and senior residents. The interview has been edited for clarity.
RH: How did you first get involved with Friends of Southwest DC, and how did that involvement grow over time?
JS: I found a local organization which allowed me to be a donor and see the results of my donation here in the neighborhood. I got to know Coralie Farley, who was holding a foreign policy discussion group at her home. Coralie and her neighbors founded River Park Friends in 1998, responding to their desire to pitch in and give back to their community in Southwest. A name change occurred in 2010 to Friends of Southwest DC and by that time the donor base had expanded. When I retired, Coralie again asked if I would join the Board and I agreed. At my first Board meeting in 2014, the members asked me to be Vice President. I declined that offer! But I found another way to help as they were looking for someone to take over responsibility for the Friends of Southwest DC website. The volunteer who had created the website was not able to keep it up to date.
RH: What has the experience of running the website been like?
JS: I had to learn how to update the website and I also focused on adding stories about the programs that FOS grants funded. Jay Shorter of DC STORM and Emma Ward of EmmaUS were helpful. They always sent reports of their grants with pictures. Emma would also include comments from each of the participants. If you go to the website friendsofswdc.org, in the category “Grantees’ Stories,” you can look at the smiles on these grantee faces and read their comments.
RH: What other aspects of the work of Friends of Southwest DC have you been involved with?
JS: The grantees of Amidon-Bowen PTA invited us to the school to receive thanks directly from the students who were using the iPads that FOS had funded. I also visited Camp Arena Stage, where I could see firsthand the arts projects. Arena was happy that FOS funded scholarships for some of the participants. In my eight years on the Board, I also served as Secretary for four years, Treasurer for two years, and one year I worked on implementing a donor database system. So, I was able to improve my secretarial, financial, and computer skills through the years. And I am grateful now for the new Board members who took over the tasks I used to do.
Donations to Friends of Southwest DC are accepted at FriendsofSWDC.org and also via mail at Friends of Southwest DC, P.O. Box 44434, Washington, D.C. 20026.