By: Eyasu Delesa
About 14 years ago, the idea to put a child development center in Ward 8 was planted. On March 15. 2016 that idea reached its first tangible outcome as many gathered together to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ward 8 Bright Beginnings Child Development Center.
For Billie McSeveney, Board President of the Bright Beginnings Ward 8 Center, the groundbreaking was made possible through the hard and loving work of many people.
“I feel gratitude for all the many people who made this possible. I don’t know how many people worked on this tirelessly for over a decade,” McSeveney said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to help all these children, not just give them a good start in life, but to help their parents, help whole families get started on a way to a better life.”
The staff of Bright Beginnings expects the new center to allow them to expand their services to 100 more families. They expect to be serving about three-fourths of the homeless children in D.C. (primarily infants and toddlers) after the Ward 8 center goes up. The center will serve Wards 7 and 8. Dr. Betty Jo Gaines, Executive Director, says the groundbreaking was a sigh of relief. “Happiness, a sigh of love, and just happy that this day has finally come, it’s been a journey of love,” Dr. Gaines said describing how she felt at the groundbreaking.
The event featured guest speakers such as Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, and Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden, both whom spoke about how much the center will assist families in the district, primarily Ward 8. Following remarks from the guests and executive members of Bright Beginnings, everyone made their way to the ceremonial shoveling. With hard hats on their heads and shovels in hands, donors and Bright Beginning staffers dug into the ground where they anticipate the center will stand by Fall 2017.
Bright Beginnings raised nearly $6.4 million to substantiate the Ward 8 Center being a realistic venture. The architects and engineers at the groundbreaking event stressed it will take a team effort to make this happen. John Frankhouser III, a Structural Engineer on the job, said the entire process is a system of checks and balances. “There are two steps; the first phase is done, the drawings, now the contractor builds it and we need to help them interpret our drawings and make sure they do it right,” Frankhouser III said. “They actually make sure we’ve designed it right because their expertise is building, we design and we work together, and marry our talents together”.
In addition to being a resource to over 100 additional families in the District, the Ward 8 Center will also provide additional jobs and be a catalyst for economic development in the area. Pamela Jones, who has worked with Bright Beginnings since 2008, says the new center will be a strong addition to the community. “I think this will be a significant asset in the community, people throw around the word “asset” lightly, but it will be a strong asset in the community. The building will be a nice asset in the neighborhood, especially since Ballou (High School) has been redeveloped, it’s just enlightening,” Jones said.
Through years of hard work and dedication, Bright Beginnings has achieved part of its goal; breaking ground on the future site the Ward 8 Center. Everyone involved is hopeful that within a year their final goal of a completed center will come to fruition.
The mission of Bright Beginnings is to give every child in D.C., brighter beginnings. With the development of the Ward 8 center they will be one step closer to achieving that mission.