Written by Carolina Buitrago, Program Director of Columbia Heights – Mount Pleasant Main Streets

I grew up in another country, in a community where I knew every single one of my neighbors. All the children would play and ride bicycles together, the adults would always greet each other, make plans, and help each other out with carpooling, babysitting, running errands, cooking, and so on. I remember always feeling a sense of community. 

When I moved to the US I couldn’t find that in any of the 4 cities, 4 states, and 9 neighborhoods that I lived in. It was so strange to me that neighbors wouldn’t make eye contact or say good morning if they saw me. If they did, they were not interested in continuing the conversation past a simple “hello.”

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in 3 countries: Cape Verde, Colombia, and Guatemala. During my three very different experiences, I always felt that sense of being part of a community again, of belonging.

I had given up on finding that in the US until I moved to DC. When I randomly ended up living in Mount Pleasant, I found that sense of community again. I remember my first weekend walking around, being greeted by neighbors, walking through the farmers market, and exploring all the unique small businesses along Mount Pleasant Street. 

I had been living in Mount Pleasant for about 8 months when things got even better for me and I landed a job at District Bridges. For the first time in my adult life, post-Peace Corps, I have a job that I actually enjoy. Their mission aligns perfectly with my values, and with what I envision community development work to be.

These times have been tough on all of us. We thank you for your continued support while we navigate this time together. The Mount Pleasant Main Street has been working to support business owners and make sure that they are informed about opportunities for access to capital like the Mayor’s Microgrant and the PPP program from the SBA. We are working hard to make sure that they are prepared to keep their doors open. Help us continue doing our work by chipping in $10, $100, $1,000 at districtbridges.org/donate.