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The Manna 2004 Annual Report - page 4 / 11





4 / 11

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having a positive impact in Shaw, so I’ll now “give the mike” to Dominic.

DOMINIC: Shaw is one of the hottest neighborhoods in DC. This could be good or it could be bad. To quote one of our most dedicated supporters, “We want to make Shaw better for the long time resi- dents and not different.” How do we make it better? We organized long time residents at Kelsey Gardens to protect their human right to housing. We hired local residents at MaggieMoo’s to build their skills and work ethic in entry-level positions. We organized the underemployed and unem- ployed to work with them on getting train- ing and living wage jobs at the new hotels that will be built in Shaw as a result of the $850 million convention center. This is the organizing dance we do to the “high price music” that is making Shaw feel like a com- munity under siege. We still like slow jazz in DC’s Black Broadway district. We want to make things “better and not different.”

JONI: Jim, I know you take a big interest in advocacy, and have done so throughout your career. Would you please discuss why this activity is so important for Manna and the success you have had during the past year?

JIM: Manna, Inc. and Manna CDC can only produce so many units of affordable housing, jobs and economic development and resources for this work. Manna’s advo- cacy efforts, linked with others, produces many more units, jobs, etc. Plus, it involves the community in building its own power regardless of whether Manna is there or not. We now have a Housing Production Trust Fund of over $50 million that is there as a result of ours, and others, advocacy. And we are now considered to be a legiti- mate political force to be reckoned with along with others in the city. Advocacy accomplished this.

JONI: I know you guys like to talk about your disappointments and challenges as well as your successes. So, go right ahead.

GEORGE: It’s not that we like to talk about them, it’s that we think it’s important to talk about them. We want our friends and supporters to understand everything

about our work. We don’t want to just issue puff pieces. That’s not what we’re about. Those supporting nonprofits must under- stand the failures ands shortcomings as well as the successes because everything we do doesn’t work, no matter how hard we try. You can check out our list of accomplish- ments and disappointments at the back of the annual report.

DOMINIC: My mother taught me to always try to tell the truth. She is my first popular educator instructor. Life does not move forward without disappoint- ments. So we do have a few sad stories to share with you. First, we are extremely disappointed in Kohl’s rejection of our neighborhood. They want to see more “white people” at the Brentwood site before they invested at this location. So we said “bye-bye” to Kohl’s. Secondly, at one point during 2004 the Shaw Education for Ac- tion program’s active leadership decreased to 5 to 6 people. After working with and training over 75 residents in organizing and leadership development this is not a pretty number. Finally, the church owners of Lin- coln-Westmoreland I did not offer to sell the building directly to the tenants. We might have fallen down a bit, but we are off and running hard towards success again.

JIM: There are always great possibilities, learnings and newness that emerge in the midst of challenge and disappointment and what we think of as “loss” and struggle. It makes us better and what we do and our supporters like to hear us be honest with our failures and well as success.

GEORGE: I second Jim and Domi- nic on what they’ve said. Here are some additional challenges we face in the years ahead: recruiting experienced construction superintendents to manage our projects; finding pure acquisition/development/con- struction projects in DC as we have done throughout our history; getting our new apprenticeship training program up and running; hoping DHCD becomes more responsive and timely in its underwriting process.

JONI: I know volunteers play a limited role at Manna, but could you please talk

about their importance to Manna.

JIM: There’s no question we value the work of volunteers. However, I think our philosophy is different from many other nonprofits. We like to use volunteers where there’s a particular need, a real need of ours, rather than just put them anywhere. In addition, we want them to have a meaningful experience. And, based on the feedback we receive, they do have meaning- ful experiences. Because we are a mission that operates in a very businesslike manner, and building is a business, we use con- tractors and tradesmen to do most of our construction work. However, volunteers are important to us and help us save money during demolition and landscaping, and sometimes in other areas.

GEORGE: I’d like to include both pro bono attorneys and interns in this discus- sion because they contribute mightily to our work.

While the cost of our pro bono legal ser- vices received can be quantified, the value of it cannot. The work done, year in and year out, by Morgan, Lewis and by Arnold & Porter, and now, beginning this past year, by Vinson & Elkins—thank you, Bill Lawler--is simply invaluable. Their respon- siveness to us and treatment of us has been superb. For Manna, they have worked on such issues our legal structure, charitable status, unrelated business income, advocacy limits, apprenticeship program require- ments, and utility service charges.

Regarding interns, Rozanne Look, who’s the head of Manna’s Project Development department, and a lawyer, is the main person at Manna who uses interns, both legal interns and non-legal ones. And she uses them very effectively. In fact, from her department interns, we probably get the equivalent in work output that a full time staff person would generate during a year.

DOMINIC: Manna CDC gets support from talented volunteers and interns. Dan Ehrenberg, Jasmine, Ebony, and others make our team stronger. They allow us to use our six full-time staff members in a very effective way. We also enjoyed working

“It takes a significant amount of money . . . to make up the difference in what people we serve can pay and what it actually costs to do our work as successfully as we do.

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