A boat ride on the new Spirit of Washington cruises leisurely along the Potomac River past Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, as well as the headquarters of both the U.S. Coast Guard and DC Water, and Blue Plains, the most advanced wastewater treatment facility in the world. All are located in Ward 8, a political district in the far southeast quadrant of D.C., that is too often identified by its crime and poverty; and where its residents lack access to health care, grocery stores, affordable housing and jobs.
Most guests on the Spirit ride unaware of the problems lurking beyond the District’s southeast riverfront, but last Saturday, community leaders and residents who know the community all too well took time out to celebrate the legacy of an organization that brings them together every month to address these issues, the Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC).
For more than 30 years, ACC has been the leading community-based non-profit consortium of organizations and individuals striving to improve the quality of life for residents throughout the southeast community mostly in Ward 8. ACC’s website boasts that since its inception in 1983, it has invited over 1,000 guest speakers to its monthly meetings that are always jam-packed by inquiring area residents and stakeholders.
Newly-elected ACC Board Chairman Lamont Mitchell has raised expectations of what ACC will bring following the election of new members to its 20-person board. But no one seemed more excited than Phillip Pannell, ACC’s executive director for more than a decade, who couldn’t be happier for the new energy he envisions for ACC.
“We’re stepping it up a taste,” Pannell said. “It’s a new boat, a new attitude, and hopefully more members for ACC.”
He boasted that ticket sales exceeded 450 this year raising more money ever from the annual event that serves as ACC’s biggest fundraiser.
Mitchell commended Pannell for his service and hopes to raise the level of support for the work Pannell leads.
“What we want to do is bring ACC up to the 21st century. We’re seeking young and not so young energy to take is up to the next level, and this boat ride is the start of something big,” Mitchell said.
ACC collaborates with several local organizations including the Woods Program, that cleans up parks, and it partners with organizations that work with at-risk youth.
“But we want to facilitate at conversations in the community, so the stakeholders know what’s going on and their voices can be heard,” Mitchell added.
A broad range of community organizations and politicians from Ward 8 were represented this year from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Ward 8 Council member Trayon White to The Royal Pocket, a go-go band that rocked the crowd all the way down the Potomac and back.