Arthur Cribbs, Howard University News Service
Ward 8 hosted their Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) Meeting at BridgePoint Hospital Capitol Hill on February 28 to introduce residents to the ‘Right Care Right Now’ initiative. Deputy Fire Chief Charles Mack gave an update on the program, which allows nurses to connect 911 callers experiencing non-life-threatening injuries with basic medical services instead of an intensive care unit. “This program is intended to limit the number of people going to the emergency room,” said Mack.
Community members met Mack’s updates with an array of questions. Ward 8D commissioner and treasurer Absalom Jordan expressed some skepticism of the initiative, noting that he sees several unused ambulances around the city. “I see a bunch of paramedics parked on New Jersey Avenue. Is it going to be the same deal here?”
Some Ward 8 residents made their displeasure with this initiative known, criticizing the medical services in the area. Others praised the medical staff, offering their personal testimonials in favor of the Right Care Right Now initiative.
By the end of Mack’s report, both Mack and the citizens came to the agreement that more public dialogue about ‘Right Care Right Now’ would be useful for members of the community.
Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation (CHCTDC) executive director Monica Ray also served as a guest speaker, discussing the issues of abandoned buildings in the neighborhood. Ray made the point that several buildings in Ward 8 are left unused for decades, placing most of the accountability on the city government. “We want to ask this commission to send a message to the mayor to do better and not let assets sit forever,” said Ray.
While some members of the community questioned the particulars of a message to the mayor’s office, noting that a specific plan for handling abandoned building was necessary, several people agreed with Ray’s initiative.
Several residents pointed to the need for abandoned buildings to be converted into schools. With a lack of high-performing schools in the ward, Commissioner Ellen Armstead made the point that several students in Ward 8 get up at 5 a.m. to commute to schools outside their area. She also added that Southeast, Washington, D.C., must invest in performing arts schools, which are nonexistent in Ward 8. Commissioner Jordan said, “We have a problem with equity. We need resources to make our schools comparable to those in Wards 2 and 3.”
Part of the meeting was also set aside to recognize and honor resident Marc Williams. Commissioner Olivia Henderson mentioned his constant work with children in the community, using resources out of his pocket. Such work with youth includes leading a team to clean up the neighborhood and services with the recreation center. After the meeting, Williams shared his reason for working with children.“I grew up in this neighborhood and my peers were doing X, Y, and Z. The recreation center saved my life by moving me away from the streets. I want to do the same for the youth today.”
The ANC meeting also featured a sharing of community concerns and news. Several residents expressed their concerns as pedestrians, with drivers ignoring HAWK Beacon lights. As a response to several complaints of pedestrians nearly getting hit, the commissioners are planning to have several people walk back and forth near the busy intersection of Alabama Ave. and Stanton Rd.