The New Samaritan Baptist Church in Northeast joined dozens of city agencies and businesses yesterday in providing residents with food, clothing and such services as health screening and job placement.
“It’s a family affair … focused on bringing families together,” said Bishop Michael V. Kelsey of New Samaritan, who is chairman of Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ Interfaith Council. “Our goal is to encourage a renewed level of joy, particularly among the socially and economically disadvantaged in our city.”
Organizers expect about 5,000 people to attend the two-day Joy in the City event at the D.C. Armory, created to help others get a fresh start in the new year.
The faith-based event will close tonight with a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Claranette Bradford, 54, was among the hundreds of residents who attended the event yesterday.
“I came mainly to get some food for my kids and myself,” said Miss Bradford, a single mother of eight who lives in a Northeast apartment. “I’m all by myself. It’s just me and my babies.”
Children played basketball and other games yesterday while adults sought help at sponsor booths.
Janelle Thomas, 21, came with her 6-year-old daughter to find a job. She made contacts with D.C. Employment Services officials and said the event was helpful in starting her search.
“It’s a good thing,” said Miss Thomas, who is studying early childhood education at the University of the District of Columbia. “It promotes positive action, and there’s a lot of helpful information you can carry out of here that will help you in the long run.”
Fun Travel, a bus transport company co-sponsoring the event, brought more than 500 residents from such low-income communities as Potomac Gardens in Southeast. Transportation was also provided for homeless persons and those living in shelters.
Mr. Williams attended the event and emphasized the role of faith, particularly in the city’s black communities. He also said city agencies working with New Samaritan was appropriate for the event.
“Our country was founded upon the separation of church and state, and I think that’s good,” Mr. Williams said. “But there was always an understanding that faith has a special role.”
The New Year’s Eve event will feature live music, a message by Bishop Kelsey and his wife and prizes. It begins at 9 p.m. and will last until 1 a.m.