When all is said and done, the real citadel of strength in any community is in the hearts, minds and desires of those who dwell there.
Georgetown’s strength is evident in the many charitable and philanthropy projects. Programs at different Georgetown ministries help the homeless. The Volta Park, Rose Park and Georgetown Waterfront Park projects have revitalized our community’s green spaces. The annual House Tour and Garden Tour benefit various groups in need. Lastly, there is the Georgetown Senior Center, which this newspaper has supported for over three decades.
The Senior Center, founded by Virginia Luce Allen in 1982, is run today by a dedicated board of directors and volunteers. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, which provides lunches for older people three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at St. John’s Episcopal Church at Potomac and O Streets, N.W. The lunches are prepared by volunteers, most of whom are Georgetown residents. Prior to each lunch is a light exercise program for the seniors led by Ayanna Smith. After each lunch, the seniors are treated to a special program. Recent programs have included a performance by the Calico Cloggers, a talk by local astronaut Scott Altman and a talk by a National Gallery of Art curator preparing for a special exhibit. Wendy Erlanger has been arranging these special programs for close to ten years now and is doing an amazing job. Upcoming programs include a talk by international news and documentary producer Steve Sapienza, a performance by multi-instrumentalist Jesse Palidofsky and two sessions on communicating with grandchildren on Facebook.
Throughout the year, there are special luncheons like the Long and Foster picnic, an afternoon delight at Clyde’s of Georgetown, and special luncheons at Paolo’s Restaurant and Billy Martin’s Tavern.
Prior to Christmas and Easter there are special luncheons prepared by the 1789 Restaurant. On the third Wednesday of each month, the seniors have lunch and programs with the seniors group at St. Paul’s Methodist.
Many of the volunteers who prepare the meals are Georgetown moms, headed up by longtime volunteer Mary Meyer, who schedules the cooks. Jorge Bernardo drives the van, picking up the seniors and delivering them back home after the luncheons. Every month, the seniors go on a field trip, which are proposed by staff and selected by the seniors. Recent Field Trips have included the National Geographic Museum’s Titanic exhibit, a trip to the National Arboretum’s bonsai collection, a Washington Nationals game and a visit to St. Alban’s to hear an “Arts at Midday” performance.
For over 30 years, Virginia Luce Allen was the voice and advocate for the Georgetown Senior Center. Today, a board of directors carries on Virginia’s vision and meet every two to three months. The board’s officers include Allison Silberberg, Janice Rahimi, Lila Sullivan and Wendy Erlanger.
Charitable contributions to the Georgetown Senior Center are always welcome, and periodic fundraisers are essential to the continuance of the Center. One recent Benefit, a cocktail reception at F. Scott’s in May 2012, was well attended and raised approximately $17,000. The reception was given by Ginger and John Laytham and Sally Davidson of The Clyde’s Group.