• NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATES

Erica's Civic Story: Education & Volunteerism During COVID-19

Updated: Aug 18

Interviewed by Octavais Kahawia

Edited by Emma Sullivan

Bass Circle | Washington, DC


Erica Blake is an Early Childhood Educator and resident of Bass Circle Apartments in Washington, DC. Upon DC's closure due to COVID-19, Erica, like many at home, began looking for ways to give back to her community in its greatest time of need. She reached out to Bass Circle Community Coordinator Caprice Casson because, as she saw it, there was still much that she could do to help despite not having a class to teach or children to engage.


When asked what prompted her to reach out to property management and the community center, Erica stated, “I decided to volunteer because it allows me the opportunity to give back to my community and to develop new skills.”


Erica quickly volunteered to engage with the youth who will attend “virtual summer camp” to maintain educational stimulation and achievement. She created and compiled positive affirmation videos, motivational pieces, and fitness videos. She has also volunteered to complete a “Safe Hands” food handler certification so that she can take part in Bass Circle’s food distribution effort. These are just a few examples of how Erica is uplifting her neighbors, community and city.


In this time of uncertainty, residents like Erica Blake remind us that we can get through this pandemic together. Erica’s leadership and passion speak volumes, as do her own words: “I have been an Early Childhood Educator for 18 years. My passion in education is to prepare young minds for the future by providing them with the best educational experience I can. Volunteering will allow me the opportunity to...help other people through teamwork and help make my community a better place. It brings me a significant amount of joy and happiness to be an active advocate for my community.”


While the pandemic has changed the structure of Erica’s job, she soldiers on. She keeps up connections in her personal life as well: “During this challenging time it’s important to keep in contact with your loved ones. I stay connected with my family through daily communication. We openly talk about what is going on and what we think our new future will look like. We've developed a daily routine for eating, sleeping, learning, working, and socializing. We share family decision-making, such as choosing movies, games, cooking meals, and activities for everyone to enjoy.”


The actions that people take in times of crisis show a lot about who they are. Erica’s thoughts led her immediately to supporting and educating the youth in her community. Anyone can see the merit of her actions. Erica Blake exemplifies what a true community leader looks like; her work provides a model for how neighborhoods can organize and come together now and long after this pandemic has passed.


 

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