Last Saturday, August 25 - With no less than a dozen of its members arriving to sort, plant, and paint, Dupont Circle Rotary took part in "Beautification Day 2012" at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School.
Started in 2005, the now-annual event was designed to "spruce up" D.C. public school buildings right before Fall classes begin. With an estimated 4000 volunteer beautifiers registered this year, our service committee chairs Dee Hale and Mohamed Abdouh Kabir weren't going to let our club fall short.
Phoebe Hearst, a pre-K through fifth grade Ward 3 school, opened in 1932 and is named after philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst. The school has built up a reputation for offering excellent education in a multi-cultural academic environment. Hearst Elementary has a significant number of "out-of-boundary" seats, and a student body made up of many children from lower income families who would not have access to the kinds of programs Hearst offers.
Many of the volunteers Saturday were parents of Hearst students. We received many thanks for our efforts, and remarks about the paint and dirt stains on our clothes having to do with hard work ethic. Probably we are just marginal painters and gardeners.
Despite any lack of professional acumen among us for the tasks assigned, the results could not be argued with. Four and a half hours of a little sweat, determination, and latex off-white paint later, we had spruced up Phoebe Hearst. It wasn't a transformation, but a modest improvement in and around the school.
"It was a great opportunity to meet teachers and families from the DC community, and to spend time in fellowship with other club members," remarked Dupont Rotary's president, Kristin Post. After a photo session with the DCPS Beautification day leaders, we broke out to a local cafe frequented in years past by club members. Over sandwiches and Turkish-inspired (according to Mohammed) pizzas, we talked about appreciation, road trips, and hoped the rest of the schools in the city had fared as well or better.