IN THE UNWRITTEN job description of "First Lady" there is no requirement that the holder of this title learn, care or do much about the community to which she is assigned. Advance hearsay about this town isn't all that helpful, either, as Rosalynn Carter recalled the other day during an emotional reminiscence about the Washington she grew to love -- and work with for the last four years. But the misperception of this city as little more than a command post for the federal establishment faded swiftly; in remarks that appear elsewhere on this page, For the Record, Mrs. Carter tells how she discovered a "wonderful home town" with its own local life.
What her remarks did not reveal, and what Mrs. Carter chose to downplay throughout her "term" as First Lady, was the extent of her support for community activities and projects all over the city. That is why the District Council met in special session the other day, and it is why the people who live here may remember her with special fondness. With Mayor Barry at her side in the packed council chambers, Mrs. Carter was treated to a recitation of her numerous efforts on behalf of local causes, in a tribute proposed by council member Polly Shackelton.
PR 3-628, hereafter warmly referred to as the "Rosanlynn Carter Appreciation Resolution," cites Mrs. Carter's "commitment . . . to build a more caring society" and "her affection for the District of Columbia and our citizens." Her contributions as far-ranging as they were quiet and vigorous, included work with the Green Door, a rehabilitation program for the mentally ill; with D.C. General Hospital, where she helped start a nursing education project for geriatric patients; her visits to homes for the elderly; and White House invitations to hundreds of older citizens.
Mrs. Carter also persuaded national industry leaders to contribute to the Community Foundation of Greater Washington, through which help is channeled to the Washington Child Development Council, the D.C. Coalition for Youth and various Hispanic activities. Add to this her work with Friendship House, the Capital Children's Museum, Jubilee Housing, the Oyster School Bilingual Education Program, the National Symphony Orchestra and other cultural organizations. And there was her active participation as a parent of a child in the D.C. public schools whose family supported and used the city's public libraries.
No wonder the resolution carried unanimously. As Mayor Barry said to Mrs. Carter, "You did more volunteer work than some of our own citizens."