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Column: Full of Bread Pudding Memories

Mary* has lived all her life in Alexandria; as a child on Madison and West Streets and when she married, she simply “moved around the corner” to Payne Street. As the eldest sibling of eight, Mary fondly remembers family gatherings at home, especially when those gatherings included indulging in her mother’s homemade bread pudding.

Growing up during times of segregation, Mary’s neighborhood was divided into Rose Manor and White Rose Manor. But even during those years, Mary and her family were “free.” They could safely walk around town, even to the corner store for ice cream, provided they were inside their homes before the street lights came on each night. And while Mary had to ride in the back of the bus for too many years to remember, she vowed she would not allow her children to do the same … Mary saved enough money to buy a car to drive her children to and fro.

To earn some money, Mary first worked as a key punch operator in the government but left that job to stay home and help her mother raise her younger siblings. Later, Mary worked at the Alexandria Hospital for 35 years before retiring in 1992. Nowadays, Mary spends her time volunteering for local nonprofits, when she is not spending time with family.

Mary loves having any of her five children, 16 grandchildren, seven great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild at her home to visit. Helping maintain her house is volunteer-based Rebuilding Together Alexandria (which also repaired the home she and her husband shared 20 years ago), providing home repair services free of charge that keep Mary warm, safe, and able to have family over for bread pudding.

Rebuilding Together Alexandria is an award winning, non-profit organization dedicated to repairing and revitalizing homes at no charge for homeowners in need, including elderly, disabled, military veterans, and families. To date, in-kind donations of labor and materials have resulted in $6.3 million worth of value on more than 1,600 projects. If you would like to apply, volunteer or donate, visit www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org or call 703-836-1021.

*It is Rebuilding Together Alexandria’s policy to not disclose full names.