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Meet a Few SWBID Ambassadors and Their Favorite Southwest Spots

We caught up with some of the team and asked what their most treasured part of their BID route is and why. Don’t forget to visit these spots in the neighborhood!

Jerome “Oatmeal” McCrae – Federal Center SW

When we stopped by Oatmeal’s route, he eagerly awaited for us. Waving at the truck enthusiastically, Oatmeal always makes people instantly smile. So when he told us his favorite spot was by the Federal Center SW metro stop, that was no surprise.

People were out and about on this particular day because it was around 50 degrees and sunny, the sort of day that makes you feel Spring is close. With all the bustling around the newly re-opened Starbucks, Potbelly, Cafe 59, and others, Oatmeal told us, “Things are getting back to normal here. The most action is here.” He made sure to tell us that while Cafe 59 is delicious, he loves to add hot sauce to everything.

Charleen Smith – C St. and 4th St.

Charlene hadn’t seen us yet when we arrived, but before we even got out of the BID truck to meet her, someone yelled, “Hey Charlene!” and she responded, “Herry Terry! How are you doing?!” and then immediately started playing with a familiar dog that walked by. So when she said, “This is my happy place. It’s soothing to be outside and I get to see people I know,” we were not surprised at all.

Before Covid, Charlene knew all the federal employees who went into the storefronts up and down 4th Street. You can tell her genuine happiness in interacting with people she does know and doesn’t know as they all stop by to say hi. Idonia, a BID supervisor, called her out on how this is actually her favorite spot for her love for Happy Meals from the McDonald’s on the corner of 4th and C st. Charlene didn’t deny nor confirm this was the real reason.

Jerome Horne – L’Enfant Plaza

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how Jerome loves talking to the public and giving information. We hadn’t even reached him yet at L’Enfant Plaza, and he was talking to a tourist who looked confused and needed help—while he was also simultaneously speaking with one of the vendors. “I know everybody here. I love helping tourists too.” Acting as the Southwest tourist navigator, he even learned some ASL from a regular L’Enfant plaza commuter and used it to give a tourist couple directions to the Holocaust Museum. If Jerome isn’t around, people ask where he is. His tenderness in interacting and helping people was evident from the get-go.

Haji Mtambo – Hancock Park

The little park across L’Enfant plaza is often overlooked, tucked between the VRE and office buildings. When we asked Jerome what his favorite part of the route was, he said, “Look around. what’s the first thing you notice about this spot?’ To which we replied, “it’s very green.” And it is. “Exactly!” Haji exclaimed. It’s a great park with lush greenery that is a small reprieve from the brutalist architecture all around. “It’s a central spot in DC and a green place people love to hang out in. I like interacting with everyone. It’s great when the weather’s nice.” When the weather is nice, SWBID often does events in this spot like hosted lunches, partnerships with Wolf Trap, book bazaars, and more. “It’s a cool place for people to hang out. People like being here, and I like to share in their happiness.”

Michael Dawkins – Luci’s Park

We in the BID call Michael Dawkins by his last name, and he was ready and enthusiastic to show us around Luci’s Park when we arrived. “This park shows you who we are. The BID brought it back to life and it demonstrates the best of our abilities. The park shows you how we took a neglected space and made it beautiful. When I walk by it, I often think about what it was and what it is now. I’m so proud of it—people thank me for it.” To say this park exemplifies what our team is capable of doing would be an understatement. Originally just a grassy corner between streets, it wasn’t a useable space. Our team took to it and not only landscaped it but hardscaped it. It is now one of the most compelling areas in the neighborhood and where our team often tests different ideas for beautification. The pride Dawkins had in showing all the various improvements is immeasurable.

Ana Granados – Banneker Park

When we stopped to see Ana at Banneker Park, she was waving to someone. Banneker is often a place people want to visit on their way from the Spy Museum and L’Enfant plaza to the Wharf. Ana loves speaking with the folks coming to work at the Wharf and likes to talk with people just visiting. Ana shared how a woman who works at SPY comes over every day and compliments how nice the area is to Ana. “People always compliment this area, and it gives me a sense of pride. You can often catch people reading books, having picnics, and playing with ducks that make their way to the park.”

Mirna Monterroso Deleon – Arena Stage

Around the corner from Banneker, Mirna was waiting for us at Arena stage. Mirna worked at Arena Stage for many years and knows everything about the theatre—so when we asked why she loves it here, she told us, “Everyone’s very friendly. I love Arena Stage because it’s a cultural center where diverse people can come in and enjoy all kinds of things.” 

She went on to mention how everyone who lives nearby is delightful, and she loves the dogs of the neighborhood. We got distracted for a minute as we searched online for a particular dog in the neighboring apartments that’s Instagram famous. Mirna knows this Frenchie well and loves to play with it when she can. 

Mirna also noted how people in the community love the job we do around Arena Stage and over to 6th and M. “I feel happy when people say the appreciate what we do in the area.”

Pamela Hatton – Southwest Duckpond

Heading just up the street to one of our favorite spots at the Southwest Duck Pond, we met up with Pamela, who takes care of the area. She told us, “It’s a place of peace.” to which we all agreed. The Duck Pond is serene. “It’s quiet, and when it’s nice, it’s wonderful to see people relax,” she continued.

Pamela says she gets to embrace the community, and people love connecting with one another at the Southwest Duck Pond. It truly is the epitome of community. As a community favorite hot spot, the pond on a nice day is often a great place to relax. “It’s such a close-knit community; it motivates me to keep pushing and be a better me. The area is meditative and helps with my personal life. I can come here and just see the beauty in everything.”

Our SWBID ambassador team is made up of the very best our community has to offer with hard work, kindness, a little goofiness, and a sense of pride in the work they do. The routes we talked about reflect that sentiment from their approachable friendliness to ensuring our neighborhood stays beautiful. So when you see the team outside on these routes, don’t forget to stop by and say hello.