Inauguration to Turn an 'Empty Nest' Into a Full House
Talk about change: One home in Cleveland Park will transform from "empty nest" to Obama colony in the days leading up to the inauguration.
Mary Warfield, 57, who’s lived alone in her four-story home since her three sons left for college, will welcome her sons home -- and host 12 middle school students from south central Los Angeles.
“I think it will be a blast,” said Warfield in an interview. “They get to be here for such an amazing event and then I get to see it as they’re experiencing it.” (Her sons are 19, 21 and 25.)
The students, from KIPP Academy of Opportunity, received free airfare from Los Angeles from Virgin America. Guidera launched a school-wide essay contest after the inauguration, choosing 12 from the 180 -- about half the student body -- who submitted entries.
But “there was nowhere to stay,” said Ian Guidera, school director and teacher at KIPP. (Virgin is also coordinating a campaign to help defray the group's other travel expenses, toward which it has pledged $3,000.)
That’s when Warfield, a medical acupuncturist, stepped in.
Warfield had considered leaving town and perhaps even renting her home, but invited the students to stay with her after Guidera, a family friend and Mt. Pleasant native, told her about the situation.
“I wouldn’t just let any kids come stay here," she said. "But I know they are amazingly well-behaved and what they’re doing is very educational.” While in D.C., the students will also be touring colleges, visiting local sites, blogging about the trip and writing essays for a school newsletter.
Warfield lives alone, but says she has enough sleeping bags, blow-up mattresses, blankets and pillows to go around. Her four bathrooms, she hopes, will suffice. (And Warfield insists there is room for more, which could be the case if her sons invite friends home.)
“I’m very thankful," says Erin Chapman, 11, a seventh-grader who plans to stay with Warfield. "I heard it’s a nice house… It doesn’t really matter where we stay, just that we get to go."
-- Brittany Levine, washingtonpost.com
Washington Post Editors
December 10, 2008; 1:46 PM ET
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