I’ve written a whole lot over the years about the old Carver Theater building in Anacostia. Control of the property was transferred years ago from the city to the Good Samaritan Foundation, a non-profit group founded by Redskin heroes Art Monk and Charles Mann.
The beloved former athletes acquired the public land after promising the locals in 1999 that they’d turn the building into a job training center for poor kids. And over the years they have raised millions of dollars with that same pledge.
They’ve even hosted at least three groundbreaking ceremonies for the press at the job training center site since 2001, and actually began building on the site a couple years ago.
But no such facility has ever opened.
Perhaps Monk and Mann’s group has been doing great deeds over the years at other sites around town while waiting for the Anacostia center to open; its website claims that “[m]ore than 65 students have participated in” its training program since 1997.
That’s not a lot of kids per year, for sure, given the publicity and bucks thrown the Good Samaritan Foundation’s way.
But, hey, that’s more kids than I’ve helped. So I can’t get worked up about that number.
But it’s the lack of a training center, after the Good Samaritan Foundation has held so many fundraising events specifically for the training center, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants specifically for the training center, and even boasted about seven-figure donations given to the group specifically for the training center, that continues to leave me awed.
I spoke with Lawrence Dark, executive director of the Good Samaritan Foundation, over the summer, just as Monk and Mann were holding their annual golf tournament to raise more money for the group. Dark told me at the time that the Anacostia training center would be open “in the next six to eight weeks.”
I’d been told similar stories about opening dates by the Good Samaritan Foundation over the years, and when I asked Dark about the etched-in-stone-ness of this latest deadline after oodles of missed deadlines, he added: “If it doesn’t rain.”
And, in fairness to the Good Samaritan Foundation, it’s raining as I write this.
And the center still ain’t open: I drove by the Carver Theater over the holidays, and saw the front still boarded up and the place looking nowhere near ready for occupancy.
The fundraising continues, however.
Monk had a $200 a head dinner in November, with advertisements saying proceeds would go to the Good Samaritan Foundation. During promotions for this event, however, Monk’s charity was also identified as “the Youth Power Center.“
And radio ads for Wal-Mart during Redskins game broadcasts this season said that the retail giant would donate a portion of sales of certain items to Monk and Mann’s charity, which again was identified as both the Good Samaritan Foundation and the Youth Power Center.
I called Dark up this week and told him I’d driven by the construction site, and asked him about the status of Monk and Mann’s training center. He said he was too busy for such a discussion.
“I’m trying to get a grant,” he said.