From Joey Gavrilovich. Follow him on Twitter @joeygDC, email him at joey[AT]borderstan.com
The imminent closure and relocation of Central Union Mission to make way for 50 condo units and retail spaces at 1350 R Street NW would seem to present a potent symbol of displacement brought about by urban renewal.
But, even as construction of sleek condos and new business spaces continues at a dizzying pace up and down 14th Street NW, at least two human service fixtures in the neighborhood have seen recent investment in significant structural renewals that have helped revitalize core services, sending a strong indication to the broader community that they are here to stay.
Just since the start of 2013, both Martha’s Table, a provider of education, nutrition, clothing, and family support to people living in poverty, and N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in the District, have received exhaustive and much-needed renovations to a space that is the very heart of any service provider: their kitchens.
Partnerships Drove Renovations
For each organization, the renovations came about primarily as a result of private partnerships with businesses which saw a strong opportunity for community investment. N Street Village’s ongoing funding partnership with lifestyle media company Scripps Networks Interactive led to their kitchen improvements in January.
Celebrity interior designer Alison Victoria, host of DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers, came to N Street Village and worked with a local contractor to design and install an efficient and functional kitchen for residents of the organization’s night shelter, starting and completing the project in less than one week.
At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Martha’s Table’s new kitchen space held on February 12, Edward Allera, a co-managing shareholder of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, cited the revitalization of the area around 14th and U Streets as a reason behind his firm’s desire to invest in the project. The firm partnered with Martha’s Table to secure $30,000 in donations for the kitchen renovation, and provided a matching grant for the same amount, which proved to be crucial to the project’s success.
“We hope that the momentum created by our matching grant continues and that donations continue to roll in,” said Allera, acknowledging that the kitchen project spearheads Martha’s Table’s ongoing expansion and growth planned for the next several years. The organization recently hired Patty Stonesifer, formerly the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as its new president. Ms. Stonesifer begins her work with Martha’s Table on April 1.
“As we move forward,” said Allera, of his firm’s partnership with Martha’s Table, “this grant is just part of our ongoing commitment.”