Every weekday, buses pick up 60 elderly people, including some in wheel-chairs, and deliver them to day care centers that cater to their special needs.
Elois Jones spent five years as a volunteer worker planning and raising money for the geriatric day care program, which is sponsored by the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.
As a result of her work in establishing the program, Jones was one of five black women who were given special service awards by Howard University's Community Action Program last week. Jones' award was for the field of health.
The other awards went to Matilda Ethel May Jett Brown, founder and executive director of Creative Youth Studio, for family life; Lois Pierre-Noel, former chairman of the Howard University art department, for the arts; Faustina Brown, assistant to the assistant superintendent of instruction, Region 5, D.C. public schools, for education, and Thelma Rutherford, full time volunteer, D.C. chapter, Gray Panthers, for community service.
Thirty other black women who were nominated by their own community service organizations received citations.
The awards and citations were presented at Howard's third annual symposium saluting black women.
According to Denise Goins, program manager for the Community Action Program, the first awards were given out in 1975 because "black women provide a great proportion of the social services in Washington. Often they work as volunteers or if they are employed, they go far beyond the call of duty to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of this area.
"The purpose of the salute is to recognize the honor in a special way those black women who have given unselfishly of their time, energies and resources to enrich and nurture a strong, viable community," she said.
The symposium was also designed to "provide an atmosphere for the exchange of information about ourselves," Goins said.
The day-long gathering also featured addresses about the black woman as an agent for social change and the role of black women in urban family life.
Rev. Dorey Roundtree commended the women who received awards but admonished them not to get so "carried away that you neglect that boy, that girl and that man to whom you have made a commitment. You can work out yonder and fail to work at home."
Dr. Alyce Gullattee, a psychiatrist and director of the Institute for Drug Abuse and Addiction at Howard, said that, "A great deal has been written in recent years about the historical role of the American black woman - as an object of exploration by white men, as an often stabilizing influence in the white family, as the cohesive force in the black family or the reigning matriarch who exercised control over the destiny of the black family.
"She was, it turns out, a woman of extraordinary courage, of exceptional wisdom, possessed of a remarkable sense of survival. She would endure and see that her own would endure. Today, the black woman must still be all these things. She must be every bit as versatile, but more flexible in that she will assume a natural role of parenting and mate support," Gullattee said.
"She must be strong enough to see her children die if that is the price of freedom. The female must acquire the artfulness of femininity and use it to advantage for the survival of our own people," the psychiatrist concluded.