[from July 2001 issue]


Something very nice happened this month in Adams Morgan, something which suggests that the promise of our city succeeding in turning itself around may get fulfilled after all, thanks to the commitment of thousands of good people who work hard making their small businesses or community organizations grow and their neighborhoods prosper.

Quietly, without much fanfare--in fact, in his own self-effacing manner--Adams Morgan businessman Stephen Greenleigh set out to honor the legacy of one of Adams Morgan and the city's really great citizens, George Frain, by establishing the George Frain Distinguished Social Entrepreneurship Award to be conferred upon individuals considered to have bettered the community through their commitment to devoting their business or professional pursuits in a fashion that also serve the good of the community.

Certainly, that was what motivated George Frain for the more than 25 years until he passed away about three years ago. George devoted enormous energy to Adams Morgan--and city-wide--betterment, mostly in his capacity as secretary of the business association, but also through his energetic advocacy of fair play for independent business owners and ordinary residents, particularly those new to this country or not otherwise "plugged-in" to the local power structure. He was, we are happy to admit, "aided and abetted" in his efforts by his extensive writings in this newspaper all those years as Senior Columnist.

So, there we were, in the delightful upstairs room of the I Matti restaurant with a wonderful mix of neighborhood folk--a virtual "United Nations" for which Adams Morgan is justifiably envied not just around this city but by visitors from all over. They were there not only to meet and participate in an event with visiting Brazilian artist and spiritualist Maria Gertrudes, who was making a special appearance, but to help honor those who were being recognized for their contributions.

Each was presented with a handsome Certificate of Appreciation which stated that it was being conferred "In recognition of . . . sustained exceptional contributions to the Spirit and Vitality of the Adams Morgan community." And who were these individuals that had been singled out for what will become an annual honor? There were five honorees comprising a diverse group:

  • Mahama Bawa, owner of Kobos, Inc., a lovely boutique on 18th Street that specializes in clothing, jewelry, and artifacts from the West African Republic of Ghana. Not only is he a warm host in his shop and welcoming to his neighbors and customers, but he has made himself available beyond his neighborhood through his service as a leader in our city's Moslem community.

  • Hector Rodriquez, founder and executive director of Las Americas, headquartered in Adams Morgan and devoted to making the neighborhood the center of Hispanic culture in the Washington area. In so doing, he has also contributed significantly to building bridges among the several cultures represented in Adams Morgan and the city, thus enhancing understanding and tolerance.

  • Pat Patrick, long-time resident and community activist and entrepreneur who has devoted much of his life to neighborhood improvement. We first knew him in the 1980s when he took over managing the Adams Morgan Day festival and which he turned into a major force for promoting all that is so wonderful about the neighborhood. He followed that stint with service as president of the business association for several years, and to this day continues to be a force for community betterment.

  • Jim Graham, known to everyone through his dynamic service in his first term as Ward 1 Councilmember, with his priorities constantly focused on things that matter to the average resident and small business person, but also with a deep commitment and action plans to help those who need an assist from a government that is not always compassionate; he has been their advocate. This is not surprising, given his former, many years of service as director of the acclaimed Whitman-Walker Clinic, known world-wide for its far-reaching AIDS/HIV work.

  • Yours truly--and that still startles this editor and publisher! Here we thought we were doing nothing more than putting out a modest community newspaper, but have now learned that what we do has been of great benefit to the community overall by providing the means for spreading news not usually reported elsewhere and also for providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and issues of concern. We are grateful that we have been so singled out, but were it not for the quality of the community and the nature of its people that we serve, whatever we have been able to accomplish would never have borne fruit. So the honor has been accepted by us on behalf of our 100,000 readers.