SAMs Welcomed by Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

By Rachel Rose Hartman

The DowntownDC BID’s Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance employees (SAMs) last week held their employee of the month meeting at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church (MVPUMC) located at 900 Massachusetts Avenue NW, where they received a warm greeting and heard words of appreciation from Rev. Donna Claycomb Sokol.  
Claycomb Sokol told the SAMs and BID staff in attendance in MVPUMC’s Fellowship Hall that she continues to hear accolades from the community about the SAMs’ work as the eyes, ears and caretakers of DowntownDC.
The reverend compared her church’s role in the community to that of the SAMs in “making sure folks feel at home in Washington, D.C.” In that way “we’re in a similar role,” she said. 
Claycomb Sokol noted that MVPUMC has a long history in Washington, D.C. that spans more than a century. The church was founded in D.C. in 1850 and built a sanctuary along the block of 900 Massachusetts Avenue in 1917. Several times throughout its history, the congregation was close to closing. But the church found “new life” and possibilities, Claycomb Sokol said. 
The pastor invited all of those in attendance to take part in their 11am Sunday worship services. Claycomb Sokol says MVPUMC’s congregation is representative of the diverse Downtown community and all are welcome. The church supports the community in many ways and also operates a “shower ministry” three days a week for homeless individuals, providing food, undergarments, toiletries and a hot shower.
The pastor closed her address last week by reiterating her appreciation for the SAMs. “We’re really happy to have you.”
SAMs heard from the BID’s Program and Experience Planner Ebony P. Walton about the upcoming return of Workout Wednesdays in Franklin Park, which is a free weekly workout from Crunch Fitness beginning June 18 every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. through Sept. 10. Walton encouraged SAMs to help spread the word and thanked the SAMs who will be assisting each week to make the event a reality.
SAM Supervisors Teresa Savoy and Michael Creed filled SAMs in on plans for their annual picnic at Hains Point where Workout Wednesday sponsor Crunch Fitness will lead a workout, food will be served and soccer and volleyball will be underway, all part of this year’s “beach” theme.
Ronald E. Jones, maintenance services manager, expressed gratitude for the SAMs who are “bridging that gap” between maintenance and hospitality staff, supporting one another and opening lines of communication. He reiterated that the SAMs’ new uniforms have given everyone a boost “like we’re brand new.” There’s a “new professional level we’ve reached,” Jones said. 
Operations Director Everett Scruggs reemphasized Jones’ sentiments and expressed appreciation for the SAMs, the work they do and what they represent for the BID, the community and Washington, D.C. as a whole.
Scruggs commended one new Maintenance SAM member who witnessed a recent incident and quickly reacted to assist those in need and help notify law enforcement.
Scruggs noted that the SAMs must continue to be flexible as Downtown continues to grow and more and more people visit the Downtown community to “work, live and play” each day. “We will change and continue to change,” Scruggs said. “People are coming here like never before.” 
At last month’s meeting, Scruggs recognized eight SAMs and one supervisor for reaching their 5-year employee milestones this year. At this month’s meeting, Scruggs recognized three additional employees for reaching their 5-year mark.
Award certificates were also presented to 10 and 15-year employees. A total of six employees were recognized for 10 years of service and five employees were recognized for 15 years of service. 
As is customary each month, one Safety/Hospitality SAM and one Maintenance SAM were recognized as employees of the month. May’s winners were Safety/Hospitality SAM Roy E. Johnson and Maintenance SAM Nelson Giron-Mendoza
Roy E. Johnson has been employed as a Safety/Hospitality SAM for five years and is a past SAM-of-the Month winner. Johnson traveled to Washington, D.C. five years ago from West Palm Beach, Florida. He visited a SAM employment fair at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center “and the rest is history,” Johnson said. He counts being on his feet all day as a perk of the job. “I’m a walker,” Johnson said. He added that he enjoys interacting with people and watching the evolution of Downtown. He said he’s known among colleagues for being “serious but funny.” Johnson said he’s looking forward to his upcoming birthday and a three-day break. He enjoys watching television, especially classic shows and movies on the Me-Network, and watching and playing basketball. Johnson is also an avid chess player.
Nelson Giron-Mendoza of the Maintenance team is also a five-year employee and a previous SAM-of-the-Month winner. He said he “loves” to do his job, keeping the streets clean and talking to people he meets. “I like to help people, the tourists who come here, give directions.” He said being recognized for a job well done is rewarding. “I feel so happy,” he said.  Giron-Mendoza said coworkers know that when there’s a job to do, he’s “fast.” In his free time, he enjoys working out and lifting weights, attending church and playing soccer with his kids. Giron-Mendoza has been in the Washington area for 18 years and is a D.C. resident. He has three children, ages 13, 9 and five.