This article was originally run in April 2017. For updates on the Dream Center visit https://dcdreamcenter.com/
DC DREAM CENTER SET TO OPEN IN APRIL
“One person at a time, the DC Dream Center inspires youth and adults to dare to dream, equipping them to reach their God-given potential.”
The D.C. Dream Center is a community center that offers tutoring, mentoring, personal development, after-school programs, legal assistance, and more; taking a holistic approach to the needs of the community, one person at a time.
The history is rich and the culture is deep in Anacostia. Unlike much of the rest of D.C. where the lifestyle is highly transient, Southeast DC sees little change over time. That type of consistency is what makes the Southeast White House (SEWH) such an important part of the community. Purchased by Feb 6, 1996 by Sammie Morrison and Scott Dimock, the SEWH has been available as a home that builds community for over twenty years.
"It was the dreams of people who have now passed that started this place," reflects Ernest Clover, the Director of the SEWH and of the up and coming DC Dream Center, set to open April of this year.
The SEWH is literally a big white house that sits beyond the river, on Pennsylvania Avenue, in SE DC. The old abandoned apartment building on an adjacent lot that is becoming the Dream Center was acquired by the SEWH in the early 2000s. The long-term dream was to construct something that would better be able to house the many programs already running out of the SEWH.
I asked Ernest how the dream center was ‘dreamed up.’ The answer was that it wasn’t really dreamed up, it was doggedly pursued over the course of a decade or more by multiple people.
"The Dream Center wasn't dreamed up by any one person. It was the dreams and prayers of many different people in many different places with one common thread; a passion for this particular community and a commitment to loving the people in it. That baton has been passed over time, which leaves us where we are today.”
I asked Ernest how the SEWH got around the communication piece in bringing people together from different backgrounds. He said:
“We have over twenty years of relationship in this community, and it's just getting deeper and stronger. It's the relationship that has overcome the obstacles in the culture and race differences that are at a high right now. Racial and cultural differences are nothing new to us but we have learned to trust one another with the hard questions and still maintain the friendships in the face of them."
The SEWH hosts everything from prayer breakfasts and reconciliation lunches to Moms Night Out and legal aid clinics. Once the Dream Center opens it will be a hub for existing programs currently running out of the SEWH (like the long-standing mentoring program) as well as for new programming like dance classes, continuing education, recovery programs, and more.
I also spoke with Dana Peterson, who has had a long relationship with the SEWH and has recently stepped up as Deputy Director of the DC Dream Center. “It's all about relationships," she explained.
"We believe that relationships will supersede all stereotypes and assumptions. It's much harder to make a blanket assumption about somebody that you know personally. It's relationships that cause people to change and that's what we do here; offer relationship without expectation."
The SEWH will continue to host breakfasts and lunches for the community, while much of the programming will move into the Dream Center come April/May.
Brooke M. Birkey, Education, Client Services, & Communications