Theodore Roosevelt Island: A Hidden Washington D.C. Gem

Set near the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, across the channel from Georgetown and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is 88.5 acres of pure nature. A favorite of area resident Alex Perdikis, Theodore Roosevelt Island is a tribute to the avid conservationist and 26th president of the United States. The only way to reach the island is across the footbridge from Arlington, Virginia. Cars and bicycles are prohibited. Miles of hiking trails take visitors through swampy bottomlands and wooded uplands away from the noise of the city.

From Native Americans to Dynamite

The Nacotchtank Indians made a temporary home of the island in 1668. They called it Anacostine. After the Nacotchtank left, the island was acquired and inhabited by several families, including the Masons. John Mason built a mansion and the family planted gardens. The Masons were forced to leave when the only water became stagnate. It has been uninhabited since then, except for a short time during the Civil War when Union troops were stationed on it. Fire destroyed the mansion, and its foundation is all that remains today.

In 1898, without the knowledge of or permission from local authorities, Columbian University, now known as George Washington University, chemist, Charles Edward Munroe, tested explosives on the island. District of Columbia police were notified by frightened citizens when the dynamite and other explosives were discovered. Washington Gas Light Company purchased the island in 1913 and allowed the vegetation to take over. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cleared the island in 1935. The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Association bought the island from Washington Gas in 1931 and set to work on creating the monument.

From 1960 On

Funds to build a memorial were slow in coming. The memorial was not funded, in fact, until 1960. The memorial was dedicated in 1967 and includes a 17-foot statue of Roosevelt, four stone monoliths and two fountains. Theodore Roosevelt Island has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966.

The Potomac River surrounds the island and the vegetation and geological features are diverse. Spring wildflowers are abundant and a wide variety of birds call the island home at various times throughout the year.

The Fountains No Longer Flow

Sadly, Alex Perdikis’s last visit to the island was a disappointing one. The fountains no longer flow. The canal water is stagnant. The Roosevelt quotes on the monoliths are unreadable. Years of neglect have taken a toll. The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for maintaining the park but because the island is only accessible by foot, it is not easy to maintain. Another problem is that the island is less well-known and not visited as much as other monuments in the area. In other words, it’s easy to forget.

According to an August 2015 statement from the NPS, there is a plan in place to address the issues at Theodore Roosevelt Island. Work on the moats is set to begin shortly and long-term goals include addressing the island’s condition and access.

Charitable Giving this Holiday Season: A Business Professional’s Guide

The holiday season is here and many business professionals turn their thoughts to charitable giving. Alex Perdikis, general manager and partner at Koons Automotive, knows all too well the benefits and rewards of giving back. Famous tech company founders, including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, have spent millions on various causes around the world. It may sound strange, but the benefits businesses enjoy by donating time and money to improve the lives of others goes beyond monetary gain.

The Rewards of Charitable Giving

If the tax breaks are the first things that come to mind when you think about the business benefits of charitable giving, think again. It’s true that there are tax breaks for some contributions if all of the rules, regulations and stipulations are followed to the letter. Ask Alex Perdikis, however, and you’ll discover that tax benefits are way down on the list of positives. Here are the top reasons that charitable giving is great for business:

  • Employee Pride: Keeping your staff motivated and engaged goes beyond job duties. Giving employees a sense of pride in the organization for which they work creates feelings of loyalty and well-being. When employees feel good about their organization, they are dedicated to its success. Turnover and absentee rates fall and work production increases.
  • Employee Morale: When employees see that their company moves beyond its corporate world into a role that feeds the hungry or houses the homeless, morale rises. People feel good about their work and show it with increased productivity, less sick time and a commitment to the company’s success.
  • Team Building: There is nothing quite as inspiring as a group working together toward a common goal. When company founders and top-level executives work alongside the rest of the staff, a feeling of camaraderie develops that’s not possible within the structures of the workday. The feel-good atmosphere spills over into the corporate culture to build stronger teams that work well together.

How to Give

As the holiday season approaches, there are many opportunities to give back to the community. Collecting food donations for the local food bank, participating in a Secret Santa program and collecting coats for the homeless are all great ways for companies to help those in need. But to truly build a culture of giving, charitable giving has to happen year-round.

Supporting a charitable organization or initiative throughout the year keeps the momentum going. Choosing the right cause is important. Is there a cause to support relevant to your organization? Has someone inside the company fought breast cancer? Working with a cancer research organization might be the answer. Does your company make pet-related products? Consider an employee volunteer Saturday once a month to clean kennels at the local animal shelter. Is there an educational need that is not being addressed in your company’s field? Tech company giant Intel supports nonprofit organizations that focus on teaching and supporting the software developers of tomorrow. The opportunities as well as the benefits are limitless.