Hundreds of city officials, youth advocates, faith leaders and residents packed the streets of D.C. last week to celebrate the expansion of a long-running nonprofit.
The D.C. Dream Center (DCDC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of its new space at 2826 Q Street SE on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Located at 28th Place and Q Street SE, the nonprofit formerly known as the Southeast White House continued its decades-long legacy of facilitating personal and community development.
The four-story, 10,000-square-foot facility, which sits just blocks away from the Southeast White House building, will house the organization’s programs.
Opened in 1996 by Sammie Morrison and Scott Dimock, the former residential home at 2909 Pennsylvanian Avenue SE provided meals and mentorship to families in the area.
For more than 20 years, the nonprofit has grown and provided additional services, which the Dream Center will support.
“This Dream Center isn’t about any one of us, it’s about all of us and all of those who came before us who gave us this moment in time,” said DCDC Director Ernest Clover.
Within the new community center a number of partner organizations are set to provide a range of services including an after school program that includes mentoring and tutoring, a summer camp, legal aid, meals and community service projects. The building has a dance studio, computer lab, basketball court, meeting spaces and offices that seek to bring new opportunities to the community.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser, who attended the ceremony, lauded the organization for fostering the growth of the city’s youth.
“When I came to the street, I asked my team, ‘Why is the street closed?’” Bowser said to the group that crowded the street. “Then I saw why the street was closed, because the community said, ‘This is where we plant our and this is where love children.’
“Sometimes when we watch [television], we tendency to think of our boys and girls in certain ways,” Bowser said. “But I see a lot of boys and girls all over this city and … they’re bursting with enthusiasm and opportunity, that needs to be nourished, and they’re craving adults to pay close attention to them and praise them and correct them and provide them structure and discipline.”
DCDC said its goal is simple: to provide a safe space that inspires the next generation to be leaders who dare to dream and reach their full potential.
“In Charlottesville and Boston, people are standing up for hate and lies,” said National Community Church Executive Pastor Joel Schmidgall, referencing recent controversial rallies. “But today, we stand here in Washington, D.C., in the name of love and hope.”
The National Community Church has been a partner of DCDC for more than two decades.
Business owners, churches and community members donated more than $5 million toward the new building, which sat as an abandoned apartment building for decades.
“It’s awesome to see the fruition of the D.C. Dream Center,” said Kellie Didigu, who has run the East of the River Career Exposure Camp for the past six years.
The camp which partners with professional organizations to help expose youth to various career paths, mainly in STEM, and helps prepare youth for their futures operates within the D.C. Dream Center.
“We are so happy to be a part of it,” Didigu said.