Sunday, May 1 marked a special milestone for the residents of the Leesburg Mobile Home Park (LMHP). It was the first community-wide picnic organized by the development’s new owner, David Gregory, and local nonprofit INMED USA. “We have a lot to celebrate,” said Jennifer Lassiter Smith, the US Programs Director for INMED Partnerships for Children, the parent organization of INMED USA. “It is a community we have been serving for many years, but now there is a new feeling of optimism and hope.”
Over the past year, the LMHP community’s fate has been in limbo. Facing displacement under a potential property buy-out, residents pleaded with the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County for a solution to keep their neighborhood in place. When the deal fell through earlier this year, Joe Serafin of Serafin Real Estate worked with local philanthropist Gregory to preserve and protect the tight-knit community. Gregory bought the property outright. “So many of us want to keep the community stable and where it is,” said Serafin. “Together, we took the Town of Leesburg and the residents off of what could have been a collision course. Dave is going above and beyond to make sure the residents have a great place to live.”
As a partner of INMED USA, Gregory reached out to Smith to help him engage with residents on their hopes and dreams for their community’s future. “INMED already works with many families in the park, and we are honored to build the support network to help the community thrive moving forward,” said Smith. “As we learn more about their needs, INMED will bridge the gaps and work with the residents in programs that build a sustainable future for the families.” But first, they celebrated!
Participants in INMED USA’s entrepreneurship program served homemade pupusas, beans and rice from their startup catering company. Children who attend INMED’s after-school and teen programs dressed in colorful attire to entertain fellow residents with traditional dances and hip hop numbers, while proud parents and neighbors clapped and snapped photos on their cell phones. INMED staff and volunteers doled out frosty snow cones, popcorn, pizza, and cake and painted the upturned faces of children and adults alike. Music and laughter filled the air.
INMED community partners also set up tables to share information about helpful resources. BCT-Bank of Charles Town, for example, has been working with INMED USA to provide free financial literacy classes for low-income adults. “BCT is proud to continue our outreach to the LMHP community,” noted Alice Frazier, President and CEO. “Our solutions will allow them greater access to financial services, creating an environment of financial inclusion for all.”
By far, the most popular attractions were the games and activities led by Leesburg Diversity Commission and the Leesburg Police Department. “Our officers had a lot of fun with the kids, especially leading tours of the inside of a police car and taking pictures with the families,” said Sgt. Wael Abilmona. “Most importantly, we got to know the community and they got to know us. With the assistance of Officer Castro, who translated our message to everyone, we stressed the importance of developing a partnership with the police and the police having a positive partnership with the community.”
Building trust is a priority for the community moving forward, said Linda McCray, Chair of the Leesburg Diversity Commission, which serves as a liaison for the Leesburg Police Department and other local agencies. “Our mission is to help foster diversity and inclusion within the community at large. The event truly embodied the spirit of inclusiveness, community and what is possible. We loved it!” So did resident Cesar Frias.
“It was wonderful to celebrate together as neighbors and as a family with food, drinks, music, activities for the children and so much fun. We’ve never had an event like this before,” said Frias. “We really appreciated that the police were there to let us know that we can count on them. I’d like to thank Mr. Gregory for this act of kindness towards the residents of Leesburg Mobile Home Park, as well as INMED and everyone else who helped make this event happen.”
For more information about the programs and services of INMED USA, please visit https://inmedusa.org.
- INMED-LMHP picnic: Children enjoyed games, food and fun at the Leesburg Mobile Home Park community picnic organized by INMED USA.
- Wael Abilmona and his fellow officers tossed footballs with kids in the LMHP community at its recent picnic.
- Residents of the Leesburg Mobile Home Park celebrated the new ownership of the property, which will keep their community intact.
- Many countries, one community.
- Children in INMED USA’s after-school and teen programs entertained the crowd with traditional dancing at the LMHP community picnic.