A Georgetowner newspaper tradition for decades, the naming of Georgetowners of the Year include: a person who has devoted time and talent to keeping a lively band of senior citizens even more active with programs that range from recitals to lectures and field trips; a non-profit relocated to town that is making an impact in the world of music, science and social innovation; and an everyday service business that has stressed a personal touch and community involvement that leaves you feeling you’ve known them for years.
Wendy Erlanger: The Georgetown Senior Center
When co-founder Virginia Luce Allen died in 2009, the future of the Georgetown Senior Center seemed uncertain. This volunteer-run, non-profit provides lunches for older people three times a week (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at St. John’s Episcopal Church on O Street NW – along with special programs, whether it be a workshop on Facebook or an afternoon at Nationals Park. Through the year, special events include the Long and Foster picnic, an afternoon delight at Clyde’s of Georgetown, a Thanksgiving meal from 1789 and lunches at Paolo’s Restaurant and Martin’s Tavern.
While the center has quite a list of volunteers – Jill Altman, Cathy Applin, Jorge Bernardo, Barbara Downs, Claire-Lise Levin, Mary Meyer and Janice Rahimi, to name a few – we wish to single out Wendy Erlanger. She has organized the programs for years and helped to keep the center afloat after the passing of Allen. (Erlanger also volunteers at the Peabody Room at Georgetown Public Library, N Street Village and elsewhere.) Her devotion is complete, her winning positivity endearing and effective. For such accomplishments – above and beyond – Wendy Erlanger of the Georgetown Senior Center is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2014.
Sachiko Kuno and Ryuji Ueno: S&R Foundation
When Doctors Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno of Sucampo Pharmaceuticals in Bethesda made themselves known in Georgetown by purchasing Evermay Estate in 2011 and then Halcyon House in 2012, their S&R Foundation had already been encouraging young artists and scientists for 10 years. What the married couple did next was to usher in Overtures musical series at Evermay and a business incubator fellowship and entrepreneurship program at Halcyon House, known as the Halcyon Incubator.
Whether dealing with Georgetown University, the Kennedy Center or their neighbors on 28th Street or Prospect Street, S&R’s co-founders Kuno and Ueno are graceful, creative and thoughtful, as is the foundation’s chief operating officer Kate Goodall. In a short period of time, S&R has made a big splash in town with its unique dedication to the arts and the sciences for the betterment of all.
Besides its arts programs and other seminars, what S&R shows us is how innovation is alive and well in Georgetown. For such accomplishments – above and beyond – S&R Foundation is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2014.
Hamood Abutaa and the Ladson Brothers: Georgetown Shell and Georgetown Exxon
When a fire destroyed a service station in 2011, the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street looked half-ruined for more than a year. The owner of Georgetown Exxon, Hamood Abutaa, stepped up and put up a new gas station with service bays in 2013, inaugurating the Georgetown Shell. He also owns Capitol Hill Exxon and a gas station in Alexandria. Abutaa and his mechanics-in-chief, Bobby Ladson of Georgetown Shell and Jamie Ladson of Georgtown Exxon – yes, they are brothers – have made the town their own, quickly making friends and fixing all manner of cars. The businesses immediately embraced this community, signing up for the Georgetown Business Association, and sponsoring various town events. Meanwhile, Georgetown Exxon cannot renew its lease, as the land will become the site of another condo complex. That news is lamented by residents.
What these businesses reveal is that our local businesses can also be our friends – and when they keep the town’s cars running, especially so. For such accomplishments – above and beyond – Georgetown Shell and Georgetown Exxon are a Georgetowner of the Year for 2014.