On the first Thursday of every month neighbors across Ward 5 come together under the motto of “Meet Your Neighbors – Support Local – Share a Few Laughs – Why Not?” We caught up with Jennifer Parker, the organizer of the Ward 5 Happy Hour to get the scoop on the event’s origins and happenings. It all started when Jennifer, a Brookland resident, began to miss the neighborhood camaraderie of her hometown, Austin, TX. She thought, “if I feel this way, other’s might too. So, I decided to start the happy hour as a way to bring the neighbors together.” The first event drew 22 people and was held at San Antonio’s. Now, at least 35-40 regularly turn out and she has expanded beyond Brookland to support as many Ward 5 venues as possible.
Like many of us, Jennifer’s favorite thing about Brookland and the extended community is the people. She pointed out proudly that the happy hour has attracted “young Catholic University students, new neighbors just moving in, young families, established neighbors who have been here for generations and went to the movies when Brookland CVS was a theater and everyone in between.” Politicians like CM Kenyan McDuffie and ANC members show up periodically as well. She adds that the most rewarding part has been meeting “so many amazing people, from all walks of life, who we established very tight friendships with”.
For the September happy hour Jennifer is teaming up with the Menkiti Group and Art Enables for an evening of art and mingling for a great cause. Art Enables is an entrepreneurial art studio for self-taught artists with developmental disabilities. The Menkiti Group is graciously providing wine and light refreshments. The event will be at their offices; 2600 12th Street NE on September 6, 2012, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
An exciting side effect of these gatherings is the networks it has created between neighbors that expand beyond the monthly gatherings. Neighbors that previously didn’t know one another are forming smaller groups that socialize independently and are creating an even greater sense of community for themselves. Several neighbors that considered leaving the area have actually stayed because of the friendships they were able to finally establish via the happy hour. It’s no wonder then, that the community has also given back to Jennifer, surprising her in June with a birthday party and the “Social Butterfly of Ward 5” award. She says “it was very touching…(the award) is displayed on my fireplace mantel today.” Great job building bridges Jennifer!