- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL) has big plans for a new state-of-the-art headquarters, but before it splits from its current digs, the organization whooped it up and raised some cash Thursday night at the Marriott Wardman Park.
Co-emcees at the 31st annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Gala were sassy actress and former "227" star Jackee Harry and actor-director Robert Townsend (who branched out into song at one point), accompanied by the swingin' sounds of the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra.
"This is a fabulous city and I got some fabulous clothes," commented Miss Harry, who earlier had squeezed in a little shopping in Georgetown.
The big news of the night was the kickoff of GWUL's campaign to raise $10 million for a brand-new facility.
The nonprofit organization, a local affiliate of the National Urban League, provides social services for blacks and other minorities in the D.C. area from its headquarters at 3501 14th St. NW.
The League is slated to move into the old Hines Funeral Home building at 14th and Harvard streets NW next year as part of the city's Columbia Heights revitalization project.
"It's time to get out of there," said GWUL president Maudine R. Cooper of the organization's current facility. "We're bursting at the seams," added Jerry Moore, who chairs its board.
"This is an important way to raise money for the League, which is about building community, building partnerships, making things happen for families," said D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, seated at a head table with, among others, Dorothy Height, president emeritus of the National Council of Negro Women.
Actor-comedian Michael Colyar, dressed sharply in a chrome-shiny suit and a fedora, brought a touch of questionable hilarity to the evening when he lightheartedly touched on his former addiction to crack cocaine.
In more serious moments, several area business executives, including Jair Lynch, a silver-medal-winning gymnast at the 1996 Olympics, were recognized for their partnerships with the League.
Safeway, Anheuser-Busch and the Thursday Network introduced this year's recipients of college scholarships the three award annually to local high school students in conjunction with the Urban League.
"They've maintained over the years a very strong commitment to the community," said D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey. "Having a gala like this is very important for us to be able to recognize all the people that contribute to our community."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who represents much of Montgomery County, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton also made brief appearances.
Scott Galupo

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