At Georgetown Ministry Center, we talk about community a lot. There’s the community and camaraderie in the center, and there’s our relationship with the Georgetown community, which varies from love and support to frustration and resentment. We do our best to strengthen our community by bridging gaps of understanding and communication, whether we are attending Block by Block meet and greets or inviting members of the community into our center to meet our awesome guests.
At this week’s house meeting, Officer Atkins from the Metropolitan Police Department came in to meet and speak with our guests. It was our most well-attended house meeting to date; even those who usually don’t participate in our weekly house meetings came into the room to hear what Officer Atkins had to say.
In addition to encouraging our guests to introduce themselves to his fellow officers, Officer Atkins had his captive audience discuss panhandling laws and define “agressive panhandling” to each other. He also pushed our guests not to leave their bags unattended, as it uses a lot of time and resources when authorities have to examine suspicious bags. Some of our guests had no idea that the FBI, canine unit, and bomb squad all respond to calls in which their bag might be the focus.
Above all of his talking points, Officer Atkins stressed that we, whether we have a house or not, are all part of the same community, and that this community is only as strong and cohesive as we choose to make it. He urged everyone report suspicious activity, understand where others are coming from, and to reach out to those in need.