Heard on the Hill – November 2017


Thanksgiving Drive for Capitol Hill Group Ministries
November is here, though the temperature may not play along with our collective autumnal fantasies of cozy sweaters and boots. Nevertheless we humans persevere and one of the ways we do is with our beloved holiday traditions. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and while part of its allure is the smell of pies and other goodies baking on a golden, crisp fall morning, the show must go on regardless.

But, while I spend most of the fall researching and playing with recipes to foist on my family, we have some neighbors for whom access to an abundance of food is not a guarantee. Each year the Capitol Hill Group Ministries (CHGM), a collective of communities of worship on the Hill, runs the Thanks-GIVING Basket Drive to ensure that these families also share in joy of the holiday.

A typical CHGM basket includes two cans of string beans, yams, cranberry sauce, two boxes of stuffing, mashed potatoes or a bag of rice, two cans of gravy, onions, three boxes of mac and cheese, a box of Bisquick or muffin mix, a box of cake mix and frosting, one $25 Giant, Harris Teeter or Safeway gift card to purchase meat of choice. These completed baskets will go to families in both Ward 6 and throughout the District.

If you are inspired and would like to donate an entire basket, contact Shelah Wilcox at 202-544-3150 or wilcox@chgm.net with the number of food baskets you would like to donate. If you are more of a check writer and less of a shopper your contribution would be much appreciated. You can go to their website at www.chgm.net, make a contribution and designate “Thanksgiving Basket Drive” or send a check made out to Capitol Hill Group Ministry and include “Thanksgiving Basket Drive” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to the CHGM main office at 415 2nd St. NE, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20002.

Additionally, Hill resident Megan Shapiro has long led a drive within the Moms on the Hill online community which benefits CHGM. Volunteers pledge to donate 10 cans of yams or thirty boxes of Jiffy muffin mix or what have you and then drop it off at designated location on the Hill. The weekend before Thanksgiving volunteers come and assemble the baskets which the CHGM volunteers distribute. If you are a member of the listserve, be on the lookout for the announcement soon.

A co-working space with a practical twist
If you have ever tried to accomplish a grown-up task with one or more small children in your care you know how difficult it can be. For those working at home, finding a way to balance family life and work life can be particularly challenging.

Local mom and self-employed event planner Tracey Leaman saw all these co-working spaces popping up all over town, and had the brilliant idea to combine the co-working idea with childcare. Lacking a space to host, she turned to her friend and neighbor Hatice Rosato who had recently opened the Mediterranean café and restaurant Sospeso on H Street NE. A mom and an entrepreneur herself, Rosato recognized the need and offered the use of her restaurant to launch the concept, calling it The Village at Sospeso.

From her event work Leaman was familiar with the local company Nannytainment, which hires out sitters and caregivers for events such as weddings and other parties (also a brilliant idea!) Under new ownership Nannytainment was looking to reach out to potential new clients, so the idea was embraced by all and date was picked. But would anyone come?

Leaman put information on her company’s website eventstoatdc.com and began posting about it on local listserves. Stopping by the morning of the very first Village, I saw moms on laptops scattered throughout the warm and inviting brick-walled space enjoying the coffee and treat that comes with the fee for childcare. The children were in the upstairs space with the expert caregivers who arrived prepared with toys and most impressive, a bubble blower.

The two have already received requests to host another Village on an upcoming DCPS day off and plans for possible evening or weekend events are in the works. They envision future date night or cocktail hour options because being parents to little kids is hard work. Even parents get to have a little fun once in a while.


Jen DeMayo has been a waitress, an actor, and a puppeteer. She is the mom to two boys who attend DC Public Schools (off the Hill). No matter what she may end up accomplishing in her life, she is sure that her obituary headline will say she was the founder of Moms on the Hill. Contact Jen at jendemayo@gmail.com.