By Natalie Gross
Lena King stared into a handheld mirror, watching carefully as cosmetologist Crystal Corbie used a soft brush to blend the colors along her cheek.
It was King’s first time wearing makeup, and she wasn’t sure whether she would like it. She just knew she wanted to look beautiful because she was going to her first high school prom.
King is a 17-year-old senior at Eastern Senior High School. She has braces, likes to read books and frequently weaves movie references into casual conversation. She has a remarkable knack for reading facial expressions and remembering people’s names.
If you ask her about school, she gushes about her teachers and says, “I’m learning to be a responsible adult.”
King was one of about 80 students and young adults with special needs who attended a prom hosted by Waterfront Church DC at Nationals Park on Friday, Feb. 12. The Navy Yard congregation received a grant from the Tim Tebow Foundation to throw the Night to Shine bash, one of more than 200 proms for people with special needs happening simultaneously around the world.
Volunteers came from as far as Texas for the event, which included limousine rides and a red carpet entrance with paparazzi for guests and their caregivers. Later in the evening, all guests – many from D.C. Public Schools and the local chapter of Young Life, a non-denominational Christian group for teens and adolescents – were crowned kings and queens of the prom.
As students danced the “Macarena,” formed conga lines and got “low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low,” to Flo-Rida’s popular hit, many parents, teachers and volunteers joined in. Others stood by taking in the scene – the meaning of songs like “Firework” and “What Makes You Beautiful” not lost on them.
Ricki Perry stood near the dance floor, beaming as she watched King and four of her other students move with the music. Perry leads a class of nine students with autism at Eastern, teaching them life skills in addition to academics.
“I’m always really emotional when I see this,” Perry said. Students with autism thrive on routines, she said, but these students had embraced a situation with no predictability. Some had even navigated an unfamiliar Metro route to get there.
Zillah Wesley, a social worker at Dunbar High School, was thankful for Night to Shine’s focus on people with special needs. Though hesitant at first, two seniors she works with, Angel Blake and Brandon Johnson, decided to attend.
“I think that it’s extremely important for all children to feel like they’re important and that they come to events like this. They get to dress up, get to get in the limousine, they get wonderful food,” she said. “I feel it’s really helped their self esteem a lot.”
King, too, got a boost of self-confidence Friday. With all eyes on her back in the hair and makeup room, she flashed a big smile. “I look nice!”
With that, she declared herself a “makeup person” and changed into her navy blue dress, eager to show off her new look on the red carpet – and to her crush.
To her, it was all like something out of a Julia Roberts film.
Up to 100 special needs students and young adults from around the District are set to attend a special prom celebration at Nationals Park this weekend.
The prom will take place this Friday from 6-9 p.m. at Nationals Park. It will be the first Night to Shine event in the District and the fifth annual event for the Tebow Foundation, a Christian foundation started by football player Tim Tebow in 2010.
The attendees will arrive at Nationals Park in limos and enter through a red carpet lined with “friendly paparazzi” and supporters. Inside, the students will have a chance to dance and celebrate. At the end of the night, every attendee will be crowned a prom king or queen.
The prom will also feature a room for caretakers – parents, guardians and teachers that care for children with special needs every day.
“It’s not just a chance to take care of and celebrate those kids, but also a chance to celebrate their caretakers,” Waterfront Church’s Lead Pastor Zack Randles said. “A few local businesses donated gift bags for the caretakers to celebrate the hard work they put in for these children.”
Randles said that support for the event from within and outside of his congregation has been overwhelming. He said the church is expecting between 75 and 100 students to attend the prom and over 150 people have volunteered to help out, including about 75% of the members of Waterfront Church.
The church, located at 140 L St. SE, partnered with D.C. Public Schools to let special needs students learn about the prom and also connected with a local chapter of Young Life, a non-denominational Christian group for teens and adolescents. Randles said that he hopes the partnerships are the beginning of a long-term effort to reach out to and help special needs students.
“As far as our church goes, I think this is going to be a yearly thing for us,” Randles said. “There is so much excitement swirling around this.”
The Tebow Foundation partners with churches to hold Night to Shine prom events in part because it hopes to build lasting relationships between churches, special needs students and their caretakers. Randles said he hopes not only to throw a prom every year, but also to work with special needs organizations in the area throughout the year.
“It’s a neat thing that the Tebow Foundation chose churches specifically, because they wanted to connect people with special needs to organizations where they could get help regularly,” he said. “Our church aims to be one that is consistently involved.”
Man Who Landed Gyrocopter at Capitol Wants to Run For Congress — Douglas Hughes, a man charged with landing a gyrocopter on the U.S. Capitol grounds is considering running for congress in his home state of Florida. [DCist]
Condos Coming to Former Capitol Hill Church — The former Way of the Cross Church of Christ church at 9th and D streets NE is being converted into condos. [PoPville]
Playtime Project for Children at D.C. General Needs Donations to Reach 2016 Goal — The Playtime Project, a group that works with children at D.C. General homeless shelter is collecting donations to buy school supplies and toys for children at the shelter. [Hill Rag]
After a long wait, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Capitol Hill, also known as Mormons on the Hill, are looking forward to welcoming you to their new home at 522 7th Street SE.
Join the congregation on Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for some holiday cheer and a chance to see the new meeting house, conveniently located one block south of the Eastern Market Metro station. There will be tours of the building (including a scavenger hunt for children), holiday crafts, apple cider, holiday treats,and caroling.
Everyone is welcome to stop by the open house and see the results of four long years of construction. The meeting house was constructed in consultation with neighbors, The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.,and others to ensure it was consistent with the surrounding rowhomes, some of which date back to the time of Abraham Lincoln.
One of the new features of the building is a basketball court, which many members have been waiting to use with baited breath. The meeting house also includes a chapel, kitchen and classrooms, where youth group activities and Sunday school lessons are held. Mormons on the Hill anticipate using their new meeting house to serve the community.
The meeting house is special in more ways than one, as it is the first time Mormons on the Hill have had a formal chapel to meet in. Previously, the lot on which the new meeting house is located was occupied by an old Safeway building, which was used by Mormons on the Hill as a church from 1993-2011. The congregation moved into their new home two weeks ago, with a dedication ceremony on Nov. 22.
The Capitol Hill Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has more than 300 members, as diverse as the Hill community itself. The congregation looks forward to serving with Capitol Hill in their new home and will be hosting community-wide service events in the future (stay tuned). As part of the Open House, the church is hosting a food drive to support the Capital Area Food Bank, providing an opportunity for visitors to drop off dried foods and canned goods at their new meeting house.
Come check out the new meeting house and say “hello” to members of the congregation – many of whom are probably your neighbors.
For more information, visit Facebook.com/MormonsontheHill and follow #mormonsonthehill!
The preceding post was sponsored by Mormons on the Hill
Many of Summer’s Simple Assaults Won’t Lead to Arrests, Hill East ANC Commissioner Says — ANC 6B commissioner Denise Krepp penned an op-ed, saying too many assaults in the District go unprosecuted. [The Hill]
Capitol Hill Eatery to Serve Limited-Edition Rachel Ray-Inspired Burger — Good Stuff Eatery at 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE will serve a burger with double peppers and onion to commemorate celebrity chef Rachel Ray’s 10th anniversary of food publishing. [Roll Call]
Capitol Hill Church to Receive New Spires — Christ Church at 620 G St. SE will replace the deteriorating spires on its roof, restoring the church to the way it looked in 1891. [Capitol Hill Corner]
Korean Artist Holds First U.S. Show in Southwest — South Korean artist Kim Jung Gi will hold his first stateside exhibition at Blind Whino at 700 Delaware Ave. SW. The exhibit will open on Oct. 3 and include a site-specific mural. [Southwester]
Two churches on Capitol Hill will hold mass tomorrow morning before a trip to see Pope Francis in a parade near the White House.
St. Peter’s (313 2nd St. SE) and St. Joseph’s (313 2nd St. NE) will join six other District-area churches in holding mass at 6 a.m., followed by a group pilgrimage to see Francis outside the White House.
Monsignor Paul Langsfeld, the pastor at St. Joseph’s, said in an email today that the churches all expect high turnout for their pre-parade masses and walks from their churches to the White House. Online registration for the two masses has reached capacity.
The parade may be the only chance for most Capitol Hill Catholics to see Francis Wednesday, with only a few tickets distributed to each church for the pope’s mass at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. According to a letter that Langsfeld sent to St. Joseph’s parishioners in August, the church was only given 15 tickets to the mass by the Washington Archdiocese.
This week, members of Catholic churches across the District pledged to “Walk With Francis” through prayer, community service and evangelization efforts.
Hill Life Savers — U.S. Capitol Police on June 1 revived a man they discovered wasn’t breathing. The man, who was near the Library of Congress, appeared to have overdosed on heroin. [Roll Call]
Metro Safety — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and other D.C.-area members of Congress called on Metro to quickly fix a safety problem concerning power cables for train tracks. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating whether the track-based cable flaw played a role in the electrical meltdown that left one person dead near the L’Enfant Plaza station earlier this year. [Washington Post]
NoMa Buses — The Council of Governments is considering using NoMa to stage commuter buses in the afternoon. [WTOP]
Southwest Ground Breaking — St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church officially has broken ground on its new sanctuary in Southwest. [Hill Rag]
Pillar Church of DC is a new church located in the Hill East community, and every Sunday afternoon we gather to worship and share fellowship together.
Very simply, we are a group of ordinary people who have been transformed by an extraordinary gospel. We genuinely care for one another and aim to live in Biblical unity for the purpose of bringing glory to God. Our neighborhood is growing and if you don’t already know your neighbors, Pillar Church is a great place to get connected.
We invite you to join us Sunday’s at 4:30 p.m. at 1636 E. Capitol St. NE, next to Eastern High School.
We are celebrating Easter this upcoming Sunday, April 5 at 4:30 p.m. Please join us with your friends, neighbors and family. All are welcome! You can walk, ride or drive a short distance from your home to where we meet. If you drive, please take advantage of our parking lot, which is across the street from our church.
If you have questions about our church, prayer needs or would like to talk to a pastor, you can contact us at 202-510-2461 or send us an email at [email protected]. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @pillar_dc.
First responders arrived at the church about 9 a.m. Thursday, said Oscar Mendez, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire Department. An outdoor air conditioning unit caught fire and was extinguished within 10 minutes.
No injuries were reported.
Representatives of Greater People Union Baptist Church, which is located on that block, were not immediately available.