Brickies Recognize Community Support After Capper Fire

Allen Tests Structural Integrity of Stage

321
Allen tested the structural integrity of the stage by bringing up the recipients of the Civic Pride Award, some of the community members who acted in response to the Arthur Capper Senior Apartment fire.

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.

Winners included Business winner Clean Decisions, Public Service Award winner Larry Handerhan of DHS, Community Organization winners Mt. Vernon Triangle CID and Neighbor Award winner Ms. Frances Slaughter. A full report on those winners can be read here.

Allen dedicated the Civic Pride Award to those who spearheaded the community response to support the seniors displaced by the September 19th fire at the Arthur Capper Senior Apartments, 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.

“There’s no doubt the fast action and bravery of neighbors, Marines, and our first responders saved lives in this fire,” said Allen. “I am grateful to all of these honorees for their selfless service in responding to neighbors in need, whether running into a burning building to rescue residents, helping raise and coordinate donations, or providing meals, support, and friendship.

“I stand in awe of the resilience of the Arthur Capper residents, whose courage in the face of tragedy reminds us all to be thankful each day for what we have, and I am very proud of the Ward 6 community’s generosity of spirit in responding to this tragic fire.”

Four U.S. Marines represented Marine Barracks Washington at the 2018 Brickies. The acceptance speech by Captain Wilbur Trey Gregory was two sentences.

U.S. Marines

Four Marines from the Marine Barracks Washington accepted the award on behalf of the Barracks, just down the street from the Capper complex. “When the smoke started coming from the building, our neighbors, the Marines, they didn’t walk –they ran. And they ran towards the fire and into the building,” Allen said. “They helped make sure that we didn’t lose anybody that day.”

“I know that not only the residents of Arthur Capper, but every single person in Ward 6, every single person in DC is grateful for the actions that were taken by our neighbors, the marines.”

Captain Wilbur Trey Gregory accepted the award, saying “On behalf of the barracks we are honored to accept this award. We did it all for the community.”

ANC 6D07 Commissioner Meredith Fascett waits in the wings during the awards ceremony.

ANC Commissioner Meredith Fascett

Commissioner Meredith Fascett (ANC 6D07) stepped up as point person after the fire, co-ordinating the overwhelming offers of community support, including volunteer efforts and fundraising for the seniors. She partnered with the Capitol Hill Community Foundation (CHCF), together raising more than $330,000, all of which goes directly to the seniors. In accepting the award, Fascett thanked the community for their support, saying that we live in an extraordinary community with unbelievable generosity.

“I have been awed by the grace and courage of the seniors in this incredible time,” she said. “It has been extraordinary and they are an inspiration.”

Georgina Wallace accepts the award. Usually a volunteer at the Brickies, she said she initially thought she’d been sent the wrong email.

Georgina Wallace, Books and Bling

Southwest Librarian Georgina Wallace created Books and Bling, so far distributing 16 boxes of books and over 600 pieces of jewelry to the seniors. Wallace, who usually volunteers at the Brickies, said she initially thought she’d received the wrong email when she was notified that she had won.

“I never thought one of these would be mine,” she said, before thanking the library Friends group and ANC 6D. “These are incredible people,” she said of the seniors, “and it is an honor to work with them.”

Robert Dorsey accepts the Brickie on behalf of AARP DC State Chapter, located only blocks from the Capper Residences.

AARP DC State Chapter

Allen said Lewis David of AARP DC called the day after the fire to ask how they could help. Allen said that he appreciated that AARP knew what Capper seniors would need “from start to finish.”

Robert Dorsey accepted the award on behalf of AARP. He said that the DC chapter offices are located at 100 M St. SE in Ward 6, just blocks from the Capper Apartments, “So, this was immediate and near and dear to our hearts.”

Together with others, AARP planned a Thanksgiving event for the Capper Seniors.

“We just wanted to plan something for our wonderful neighbors to connect in fellowship for the holidays,” he said, vowing AARP support as the seniors recover and rebuild.

Capitol Riverfront BID President Michael Steven watches the awards ceremony prior to accepting the Brickie for Civic Pride on behalf of Capitol Riverfront BID.

Capitol Riverfront BID

Capitol Riverfront BID both raised funds for and made a donation to the seniors, making efforts to keep the neighborhood together through the fire, working with developers and helping to place residents back in the neighborhood. In accepting the award, BID President Michael Stevens said that it was extraordinary to see all of the partners that stepped in to help in a time of crisis.

“This will be an ongoing process and we’re here to be your partners from now on,” he said.

In his acceptance speech SW BID Executive Director pointed all gratitude towards the Men in Blue and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Andre Witt (in fuchsia).

SW BID

The SW BID “jumped into action as soon as possible after the fire,” said Allen, setting aside $25,000 to help. They purchased items residents needed immediately, such as toiletries and medicine, and delivered them to the residents in BID trucks.

Executive Director Steve Moore accepted the award, recalling the moment he realized that people had lost everything from identification to what they were going to eat for dinner. “It’s a particularly grounding minute or two where you realize that this is a very desperate situation for a lot of people,” he said, directing all applause to the Men in Blue assembled beside the stage.

Helen Douglas speaks as Armanda Taylor holds the Brickie awarded to the Capper Seniors themselves for their resilience in the face of tragedy.

Capper Seniors

“It takes a lot of courage and strength to carry on in the face of so much tragedy,” Allen said in introducing Helen Douglas and Armanda Taylor to accept the award on behalf of the Capper seniors.  “The inner strength that we see on display from our neighbors everyday is just incredible, and I wish I had a brick[ie] for each and every one of them.”

Douglas said that the seniors were a reflection of the greater community. “I don’t think there are enough words to express how much we feel about the support we’ve received,” she said, mentioning Allen’s office, the government agencies, and all of the neighbors “who have not forgotten us and in fact still seek us out.”

Taylor said that there was a positive side to the tragedy. “This has been a tragic affair, but in the end, it became a beautiful affair,” she said. “I met so many wonderful people. Tonight, I’m saying to myself: all these people really care –they really, really care.”

“It renews your faith in mankind.”