Dear Thursday Network
By Alexis Ditaway
Dear Thursday Network,
When I first moved to the D.C. area in June of 2018 I was uncertain, nervous and simply afraid. As a recent graduate moving to a city where I knew no one, I was convinced that I would only be here for a spell. “Just three months here, and you’re going back home. Three months. That’s it.” I would tell myself this often as a way to medicate that fact that I was missing something. While I was feeling the success and gains in my career that so many people come to the area for, I wasn’t connected to anything. I had friends and acquaintances, but there was nothing that made D.C. “home” for me.
I suppressed this feeling for nearly a year, going through the motions of living in a community without investing myself in it. I switched jobs, moved to a different neighborhood and gained a handful more friends thinking that this is what would make my experience worthwhile. And for a while, it did. I felt as if I had more reasons to stay here than I came in with. That had to have meant something, right?
A month later while attending a conference, I was having a general conversation with someone who mentioned Thursday Network. She seemed so excited about how involved she was, the new events they were doing and the people she had met during her time there. As I heard her speak I grew excited, yet nervous. How could I, a transplant in a huge city where I barely knew anyone, just jump into this prestigious organization and actually belong?
The first event of yours that I attended was an Open House at Hook Hall. I was admittedly nervous and fearful that I wouldn’t be able to relate or connect to anyone, or that I would be too overwhelmed to even sign up. But from the moment I walked in I found that all my worries were taken away. Everyone was making an effort to get to know other people, share experiences with one another and just make newcomers comfortable. Seeing seasoned members as well as the executive board make welcoming introductions and actually show interest in me gave me what I needed to let my guard down. It was at that moment that I knew that I had found something that was unique and powerful, but could still make room for someone like me.
Nearly a full year later I can stand firm and say that you, Thursday Network, has truly altered my views on how I can impact, empower and belong in the Washington, D.C. community. From attending large events like the MLK Day of Service and seeing how you bring people from all walks of life together for service to intimate events like open forums where members can learn from and confide in one another, you have yet to fail me in giving me resources I need to be informed and involved. Even socials where members can get to know each other like Black Love Matters and the Member’s Appreciation event have led me to develop close friendships beyond general body meetings. As time goes on it has become clear the more that I give to you, you have never failed to give back to me.
As you continue to grow in membership and impact I hope that those like me who may be new to the area, looking for ways to serve the community or simply trying to be more involved are not afraid to take the same leap that I did. Your history of personal and professional growth for your members as well as impact and empowerment for the community is prestigious and well-respected, but what makes you different is that you make room for anybody who is willing to join your mission. It is the inclusiveness to advancing the movement that allows so many of us regardless of gender, age and background to feel respected, valued and welcomed — even a young girl from Memphis like me.
Thursday Network, I thank you for giving me what I needed to feel connected and empowered in this new environment. Thank you for providing me with a group of likeminded young professionals and a space where I can be who I am while simultaneously becoming the best person that I can be. I hope that anyone who is reading this and considering joining takes that same step that I did, because what is on the other side is an organization that will invest in them just as much as they invest in it. This open letter is only a drop in the bucket for my appreciation and I hope to find even more to love about you as we continue to grow, impact and develop each other, together.
Yours In the Movement and In Gratitude,
Alexis G. Ditaway