WC Smith’s Rhonda Mitchell and Lisa F. Smith honored as Washingtonians of the Year

Rhonda Mitchell, community services director for WC Smith’s Villages of Parklands property, and Lisa F. Smith, wife of WC Smith Chairman and CEO Chris Smith, have been named 2020 Washingtonians of the Year for their volunteer work by Washingtonian magazine.

Mitchell and Smith were honored for their efforts behind Building Bridges to a Better Life (BBBL), a joint project of WC Smith and Building Bridges Across the River (Building Bridges) that provides housing and wrap-around services to more than 70 previously homeless families who were displaced when the District closed the DC General Hospital and several motel shelters in 2018. Families received assistance with household furnishings and supplies, and have access to the programming and services offered by Building Bridges and its partners at THEARC.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mitchell and Smith have spearheaded an extensive weekly food distribution program at THEARC for people living east of the Anacostia River. Building Bridges coordinates the effort, which has included participation from World Central Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, THRIVE and the Capital Area Food Bank

Each week since March, Mitchell and Smith have managed a multi-faceted operation that provides critical food supplies to area residents who have been among the hardest hit by the COVID virus. Working with Building Bridges staff and other volunteers, they ensure that items are readily available and distributed in an orderly fashion, rain or shine. The week before Thanksgiving more than 500 cars showed up at THEARC for supplies. The program will continue throughout the winter.

As Washingtonian notes: “Much has become uncertain during the pandemic. But for the 72 previously homeless families who now have places to live thanks to Building Bridges to a Better Life, there’s one thing they can count on: Rhonda Mitchell and Lisa Smith.”

More about Mitchell and Smith, and the other honorees, can be found here.