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Roundtable founder honored for advocacy in southern Prince George's

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Published on: Friday, June 21, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Angela Holmes doesn’t just throw out the phrase “networking to know your neighbor” as a tagline. She uses it as her call to action for the citizens of Prince George’s County.

For her hard work and effort, the Camp Springs resident received four awards June 12 at the Clarion Hotel in Oxon Hill. Holmes was awarded plaques and certificates from Prince George’s County Police Department District 4, Prince George’s County Civic Federation and Community Coffee Roundtable. The honors marked Holmes’ tireless community advocacy, attendees said.

The community facilitator of the District 4 Community Coffee Roundtable never strayed from her message.

“We’ve got people from Eagle Harbor, Accokeek, Indian Head, District 5 police area, and District 3,” Holmes said. “Everyone’s coming from everywhere, because we give so much knowledge about crime prevention, what’s going on with veterans and politics. We just have a vast array of information spots that we hit.”

The roundtable began in 2011 as an idea from Holmes, and the meetings draw from the higher ranks of political offices, including Councilman Obie Patterson, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and County Executive Rushern Baker. Ranking District 4 police officers are also a constant presence at the roundtable.

But some people come from unlikely parts of the state.

Ruthie Lucas lives in Waldorf, but she previously lived in Oxon Hill. Lucas regularly attends the bi-weekly Community Coffee Roundtable meetings. Her daughter and other family members still live in the Fort Washington area. Lucas said attending the meetings is the only way she can keep them informed on community issues.

“I try to give them the latest information about what’s going on … like with Obie (Patterson) and Tanger Outlets,” Lucas said. “All the people that come where they may not have ordinarily have got this information … they come out to get hands-on information to see what they can do to make it a better community.”

In Prince George’s County, alerting the public to important issues — such as anti-crime initiatives, construction and development, education, and politics — often happens after the deals are done, some residents said. Consequently, the public input that should happen in the early stages of a project becomes more of a benign postscript. Holmes wants the Community Coffee Roundtable to be a watchdog for anyone looking to exploit Prince George’s County.

“They (developers) can’t just come here. They have to go through processes,” Holmes said. “We show up to meetings and say we don’t want it.”

Holmes motivates the roundtable attendees to keep track of developers that come into southern Prince George’s County to build projects that may have a negative impact on the community. Now Holmes is looking to put pressure on churches to engage with the roundtable and get clergy actively involved in the community.

“The churches come into the community and that’s great, but they’ve got to have some kind of involvement with the community,” Holmes said. “It’s almost like having a business owner, who comes and puts a business here, then drives back to Virginia. They’ve got to be involved.”

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