‘They help you’: DC launches new centers to support families in Wards 7, 8

D.C. opened 10 new Families First Success Centers on Wednesday in Wards 7 and 8 in some of the city’s lowest income areas to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic and meet their goals.

The focus of the centers is to connect families to prevention services, including assistance with employment and education, food security, child care and health care, including mental health.

Ward 8 resident Ra’chelle Dennis explained how important the centers have been to her during a news conference outside the Anacostia Family Success Center.

“When my son started here a year ago, I was going through a serious hardship,” Dennis said. “Unfortunately, I found myself in a very bad domestic violence situation where I became a mom by myself with my son.”

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“Martha’s Table, when I came to the resource center, I spoke with them, I told them what my needs were. I look at Martha’s Table staff like big sisters,” she said.

Dennis added that she was able to get help with doctors, dentists, clothing for her son, his education and cash assistance. Now, she volunteers.

“These resources do help,” Dennis said. “I want people to understand … this center can really help. If you want the help, come and get the help. They help you.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser emphasized how important the centers can be for the community.

“Families will go to people that they trust for help for any number of things, whether it’s nutrition support, whether it’s help with other family issues, whether the children need help at school, whether there are employment issues, all of those things can be best delivered from trusted community partners in the community,” Bowser said.

D.C. Child and Family Services Agency Director Brenda Donald said the COVID-19 pandemic has “altered our city and so many of our lives.”

“But we launched this Families First D.C. effort before the pandemic. And due to the dedication of our grantee partners, we are so proud that the planning work continued uninterrupted,” Donald said. The centers had a roughly $4 million investment.

The launch was lauded by Martha’s Table President and CEO Kim Ford.

“I want to thank Mayor Bowser, and I want to thank Director Donald and CFSA for providing the funding needed to organize and establish 10 Family Success Centers,” Ford said.

“In our partner hallway, the entire hallway upstairs, we’re going to be able to bring in health screenings, important health screenings and financial literacy coaching for families in this neighborhood.”

“So, we’re very, very excited about what we’re going to be able to do and incorporate some of what we do here at Martha’s Table, because you’re going to be able to do all that via the Family Success Center, and you’ll be able to leave with a bag of groceries, healthy groceries,” Ford said.

Here’s where the centers are located:

Ward 7

  • Benning Terrace/Benning Park: East River Family Strengthening Collaborative
  • Clay Terrace: Sasha Bruce
  • Mayfair/Paradise: North Capital Collaborative (Project Uplift)
  • Stoddart Terrace/37th St.: Life Deeds
  • Benning Rd. & Minnesota Ave.: East River Family Strengthening Collaborative

Ward 8

  • Woodland Terrace: Smart from the Start
  • Anacostia: Martha’s Table
  • Congress Heights: Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative
  • Washington Highlands: A Wider Circle
  • Bellevue: Community of Hope

A map of the centers is below (click to enlarge).

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 45 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the total to 15,697.

There was also one additional death. To date, 632 D.C. residents have lost their lives.

Track the District’s data online.

Below are maps of cases by ward and neighborhood.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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