Over the last several years, we've been watching a marvelously fundamental block-club program in Northeast Washington grow into an extensive network of grass-roots self-help organizations with members of all ages from every corner of the city. It's called the ""Helping Hand" project, which began in and around the Shaed Elementary School, Lincoln Road and Douglas Street NE. Five years ago, Ann J. Wooten, a teacher at Shaed, became concerned about the safety of her students on their way to and from school; some of them were being bullied. Working with neighborhood block clubs, Mrs. Wooten organized the D.C. Citizens Forum, Inc., and recruited people to place "helping Hand" posters in their windows, indicating that they stood ready to assist any child in trouble.
Soon people began thinking of other projects to undertake with neighborhood children: beautification noise reduction, good conduct in the streets and on the buses, welcoming of new residents and, at various gatherings, standing up to tell other children all about these activities. The programs and projects have been run on modest budgets, with financial help from neighborhood businesses. Today, the programs have spread to many other schools and neighborhoods, with the endorsement and support of the D.C. Congress of parents and Teachers and numerous community groups. It's a most invigorating spirit-and as the Citizens Forum enters its sixth year of working to improve the quality of life around town, we once again wish all its members every success.