Who Are the Heroes of this Story?
By Jamila Larson, Executive Director
Recent news stories in The Washington Post and The D.C. Line as well as my blog post last month have shed light on the barriers Playtime is encountering in trying to follow the children as D.C. General prepares to close. The preteens want to be served and the volunteers want to serve them — we just need space to make it happen. Who will emerge as the hero, or heroes, in this story where corporate greed meets city bureaucratic indifference?
We have been overwhelmed by the generous response from 106 new supporters donating nearly $20,000 in just the first week after the Post story ran! Thank you for your messages of support and encouragement and for your financial support that gives us the flexibility to move forward with our program plans. While our budget cannot sustain a senseless $50,000 room rental charge by Axar Management for an otherwise empty room in a hotel the city has completely booked, we are committed to finding a creative solution to the impasse.
Your contributions give Playtime the confidence to move forward and hire staff to start a new Preteen Program at the hotels to reach as many youth as possible. We are pursuing several space options that are a 10-minute walk from the hotel along busy New York Avenue. While far from ideal, we have asked the city to consider providing shuttle bus transportation.
One unforeseen hero that has emerged so far is the Metropolitan Police Department 5th District station. The Commander recognized the “huge void” we are addressing in the children’s lives and his gratitude for the work we are doing. He went on to offer us space free of charge inside his station down the street. Another is the Nike store in the neighborhood, which called expressing interest in volunteer opportunities, and then the dozens more readers who are interested in signing up for our next volunteer training (stay tuned for the date).
Children need to play more than once a week, so our fight will continue.
You are the heroes who are going to make this happen as we gear up to launch our twice weekly preteen program in September! Stay tuned, spread the word (#LetThemPlay) and know how much your support means to us. Together we can create a city where nothing comes before meeting the needs of children who deserve our support!