Jojo of Martha’s Table demonstrates cooking healthy vegetables with the kids of Langston Terrace Dwellings. (Photo by Maria Adebola)
Every year, the Langston Dwellings Resident’s Council hosts a health day dedicated towards giving back to the Langston Terrace Dwellings residents and friends in Ward 5. The purpose of the health day is to expose its residents, young and old, to available health-related resources, as well as equipping them with skills they will need to embark on a healthy lifestyle.
The Langston Terrace Council Health Day held on Aug. 29 featured an array of vendors and displays such as a healthy cooking demonstration sponsored by Martha’s Table, free dental screenings, flu and pneumonia shots provided by Rite Aid, free school supplies, a fitness demonstration, and more.
“This health day is to benefit our community,” said Esther Hardesty, president of Langston Dwellings Residents Council. “We have everything out here from health organizations to food industries.” Hardesty added that the purpose of the Langston Dwellings Residence Council is to try to revitalize the community, by bringing families and neighbors together as one and bringing programs, educational trainings, and other outside resources to foster positive growth within the residential property.
According to residents, Langston Terrace Dwellings is more than affordable housing, it is a property that contains a close-knit, family-oriented community where neighbors know each other by their first names.
Langston Terrace Dwellings was the first public housing development built in D.C. with construction beginning in 1935 and ending in 1938. The complex is named after John Mercer Langston, a well-known African American public figure, famously known for helping to establish Howard University School of Law, and for being the first Black man elected to Congress.
According to Hardesty, the property has more than 274 housing units featuring family style townhouses ranging from one to four bedrooms. These housing units are meant to be a stepping stone for families to rent at a low monthly rate, and save enough to buy a home of their own. Some families, according to Hardesty, might even pay zero rent, depending on their financial standing.
“This is a great community,” Hardesty said. “We are working to get our community clean of drugs, shootings, and anything else that is negative about our community.
Local celebrity chef James Robinson, owner of Kitchen Cray , contributed his culinary skills and resources to the health event. Robinson, also known as Chef JR gained public recognition after participating in Hell’s Kitchen on Fox.
Chef JR brought out volunteers to help in preparation of a meal featuring an array of both healthy and comfort foods including vegetables, fruits, hotdogs, chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, and more.
“Being on Hell’s Kitchen helped me out a lot because it put me on that platform where people now accept me,” he said. “But now, I am using that celebrity status by giving back to the community.”
Through his organization and mobile dining service called Kitchen Cray, Chef JR goes into local schools to do live cooking demonstrations to teach kids about healthy eating nutrition, and culinary arts.
Margaret Presson, vice president of Langston Dwellings Residents Council said that the organization prides itself on providing resources like job trainings, green cleaning, homebuyer workshops, and other forms of assistance. Presson has been a resident of the Langston Terrace Dwellings since 1967, and has raised four kids in the community.
Presson’s daughter Takeisha Presson, a dentist, played a role in the health day by offering her dental services, giving free dental screenings to residents and also assisting them with finding local dentists. “One of the things we are doing today is checking to see if they have insurance, and if they don’t have insurance I have avenues to help them get insurance,” Presson said.