On Wednesday night, Ward 6 DC Councilmember Charles Allen (D) hosted the 12th Annual Ward 6 Brickie Awards and community celebration at the former Busboys & Poets site in Mt. Vernon Triangle at 5th and K Streets NW. The awards are an annual celebration of the people, places, and organizations that make the Ward 6 community great. Established 11 years ago as the ‘Livable Walkable Awards’ by then-Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, the awards are presented as engraved bricks. The event was nicknamed ‘The Brickies’ by Hill Rag Editor Andrew Lightman.
“This is a big night out for Ward 6 each year – neighbors enjoying food, music, and having fun together as we hand out bricks to recognize some of the important contributions from neighbors, organizations, and businesses,” said Councilmember Allen. “Every year, I feel lucky to recognize some great folks and this year is no exception.”
Clean Decisions | 2018 Business Award
“Let me tell you how awesome one organization, Clean Decisions is,” Allen said as he introduced CEO Will Avila, “a business that is owned by returning citizens and employs only returning citizens.”
Clean Decisions is a Ward 6 business offering high quality janitorial services, trash clean-up and yard maintenance. Opened in 2014, Clean Decisions exists to provide opportunities for returning citizens within the greater Washington DC area to unleash their full potential, break negative intergenerational cycles in their families, build a path to the middle-class, and have an opportunity to give back. Each team member that joins Clean Decisions is paid a living wage and partnered with a mentor.
In partnership with Changing Perceptions, also founded by Clean Decisions CEO Will Avila, returning citizens are assisted with job training, counseling, housing, and other supportive services. Clean Decisions has successfully provided full- and part-time employment to over 30 people, and not a single person has re-offended, Allen said.
“I’ve gotten to know Will and his team over the last couple of years, and they are the model running successful businesses,” said Allen as he introduced Avila, “they are the model of what you want to see in a community and neighborhood, and they are constantly figuring out how to give and give and give again.”
CEO Will Avila accepted the award with his son, Dylan, in his arms. “Just to put it in perspective, we’ve been digging holes since 7 a.m.,” he said, “trying to work and do something to change our lives.”
Avila said it was an honor to accept the award, thanking the Clean Decisions team. He said it had been a hard road since 2014. “I just got to acknowledge that if it wasn’t for men and women like you who give us a chance and an opportunity to do something positive with our lives, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Frances Slaughter | 2018 Neighbor Award
“I don’t think that our next honoree needs that much of an introduction,” said Allen when introducing Frances Slaughter, “because based on the more than 150 nominations that I received, I’m guessing that everybody in this room already knows Ms. Frances Slaughter.”
Born and raised in DC, Frances Slaughter’s roots in Ward 6 run deep. Now Director and teacher at the Capitol Hill Cooperative Nursery School, Ms. Frances has raised two generations of Capitol Hill preschoolers during her more than 30 years working in early child education, touching the lives of hundreds of Ward 6 families and children.
“Her impact goes far, far beyond one classroom,” said Allen, adding that she is famous for her hugs. Allen said that Ms. Frances must have a photographic memory, since she never forgets a face. “Once you’ve been Ms. Frances’ student, you’ll always be one of her “sugars,” he said.
Slaughter said she had learned about the award the previous day. “I was in class with her sugars,” she said of the moment she learned she was a winner. “It took everything in my being to stay calm, but I was very teary,” she said, “I am honored and I am so happy and pleased.” She remembered her parents in her speech.
She said that her mother walked Ward 6 to register people to vote and worked the polls at Stuart Hobson Middle School for many years. Her father was a founder of the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association. “It’s because of them and my family, that I know we are a village,” she said. “I’m just grateful and happy.”
The Mt. Vernon Triangle CID | 2018 Community Organization Award
The Mt. Vernon Triangle CID is tasked with improving and maintaining the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood as a community improvement district. Under the leadership of Director Kenyattah Robinson, the CID has vigorously worked to meet residents’ needs – including taking on the work to create badly needed park space and green space in the dense, downtown neighborhood. The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District is a private, nonprofit organization established to enhance the overall quality of life for residents, office workers, visitors, business owners, and property owners in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood in Downtown DC. Mount Vernon Triangle is considered to be one of Washington DC’s best mixed-use communities, a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of it all – both geographically and culturally. The neighborhood is a clean and welcoming place that mirrors the District’s unique mix of restaurants, historic and modern buildings, longtime and new residents, diverse cultures, and urban experiences. The CID’s year-round schedule of events and gatherings brings the neighborhood together and builds a warm and welcoming sense of community.
Allen noted that while there were many bids in DC, this was the only CID. “I appreciate that Kenyattah always makes the point of always saying clean and safe, because we have well-kept spaces that help with public safety.”
He added that the Mt. Vernon Triangle CID was making a point of planning for public space in the area, especially in ensuring the creation of new parks such as the upcoming Cobb park.
Robinson said the shape of the award was apt. “The brick is the foundation for the neighborhood. It represents clean and safe communities, and without that nothing else matters,” said Robinson in accepting the award, crediting the men in green with doing the work on the ground. “We ask ourselves everyday, ‘what kind of community do we want this to be?’”
Robinson said the CID wants to help nurture a community where everyone feels comfortable living, working and coming for entertainment. “In this space as well as a few other spaces in this complex, you’ll soon hear some announcements about some exciting stuff happening,” he said. “The best is yet to come.”
Larry Handerhan | 2018 Public Service Award
Larry Handerhan serves as Chief of Staff for the D.C. Department of Human Services (DHS), an agency responsible for administering public benefits, ending homelessness, and overseeing other supportive services. He is the key person from DHS working alongside Councilmember Allen’s office to serve the residents of the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments in the aftermath of the devastating fire that displaced 160 residents, often acting as a problem-solver who worked long hours to make sure residents immediate needs were met and quickly reacted to resident feedback or concerns. In his role at DHS, Larry manages external affairs and supports the day-to-day management of the Department.
Allen said that Handerhan was on the scene the day and night of the Sept. 19th fire at Arthur Capper Senior Housing, calling Handerhan a hands-on team player with a ‘whatever it takes approach’ to getting the job done. “I saw him building cots, hanging blinds, talking with scared neighbors to reassure them. He basically did everything that was needed and anything that was asked of him,” said Allen.
“He is going to tell you that he’s just doing his job. He’s going to tell you that he’s just a member of a team, and everybody’s doing all the good work,” said Allen. “And that’s why he’s getting this award, because that’s the approach he takes to getting it done.”
Handerhan said in accepting, he was representing the case managers and others who were doing incredible work. He said was only comfortable accepting the award as a representative of the all the community work that was happening.
“The stars of the show are here,” said Handerhan to the audience, “it’s the Capper seniors who are the most resilient people that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.”
Arthur Capper Senior Apartments Fire – Community Response | 2018 Civic Pride Award
Allen recognized some of the people and organizations that stepped up to support the seniors displaced by the September 19th fire at the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments Fire, testing the structural integrity of the stage by bringing up the recipients of the Civic Pride Award. These people worked with the seniors the day of the fire and have assisted them since with their recovery, and include:
- Arthur Capper Senior Apartments Residents
- Meredith Fascett
- AARP DC State Chapter
- Southwest Business Improvement District
- Capitol Riverfront Business District
- Marine Barracks Washington
You can read a report on the recipients of that award here.