Lifting up Tobytown's abandoned
Regarding the Nov. 14 Metro article "Poverty amid plenty in Potomac":
I volunteered alongside a worker in the Volunteers in Service to America program in the mid-'60s in Tobytown near Potomac, so I read with interest reporter Annie Gowen's account of the plight of those who live there today. Long before the 1980s version of Friends of Tobytown, I established the 1960s version with Sister Mary Alberic, a member of the Sisters of Mercy. One of our first efforts was to provide a lending library, especially for the children, in the midst of the tar paper shacks. We then organized 13 local churches into what we called Potomac Fish, providing free emergency transportation and food, and we rented space and ran a clothing closet in Potomac Village where gently used clothes sold for less than a quarter.
Children from Tobytown attended Travilah Elementary along with my four children, and school parents worked especially hard to enhance the school experience. Sister Mary Alberic was eventually transferred, I went back to teaching and others took our place. Residents of Tobytown and other "poverty pockets," as we called them in the '60s, needed and still need more than a few volunteers can provide. Eugene Robinson, in his book "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America," suggests a "domestic Marshall Plan" for "the Abandoned," people like the men, woman and children of Tobytown. They can't reach for the American dream because the bottom rungs of the ladder are missing.
Judith Church Tydings, Ijamsville
| November 17, 2010; 6:49 PM ET
Categories: Montgomery County, development, economy, education, housing, schools
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