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Susan Notes: People are stepping foward to help a remarkable young teenager and his daughter.

March 24, 2005

The Washington Post's Manny Fernandez set a host of things into motion with his compelling article on March 7, 2005, about a wonderful young man (18 year-old James Hall), and his young daughter, Ja’Mya.

James is a senior at Ballou High School. He is working valiantly, hard and long to raise Ja’Mya on his own, to work toward graduation and to prepare himself for college.

Many were touched deeply by the article's description of young Mr. Hall's love, dedication and sense of responsibility. (In Washington, DC, a group of people have been organized to see what they can do to help out and, under Yolanda Hunter, have achieved some great successes. They will hold A Love for James and Ja’Mya Hall reception on Saturday afternoon at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel.)

And a remarkable effort has already been put into motion in Bethesda, Maryland. There, attorney and talk show host Julian Tepper (The Tepper Show [Talk Back to the News] , AM570 WTNT, Saturdays 8 to 10 PM), after contacting Mr. Fernandez, had several conversations with Mr. Hall about Ja’Mya's and needs and desires, and his own.

Mr. Tepper then contacted Dr. Alan Goodwin (principal at Whitman High School in Bethesda), and suggested that Whitman parents "adopt" this fine young family and do what they can to help Mr. Hall achieve his dreams for his daughter's upbringing and his own education. Dr. Goodwin was eager to help, and enabled Mr. Tepper's message to be given broad posting over the Whitman PTSA listserv. Following that, the parents, touched greatly by the Fernandez article and the chance to do some tangible good, began to respond.

Already, Whitman parents have contributed to a fund for the Hall family and more is expected. James told Mr. Tepper that his primary immediate need is a laptop computer, so he asked the parents for a contribution of one no longer needed by one of their children. That was not good enough for one parent (Ms. Helen Simon). She is purchasing a new laptop for James. Tepper believes that the generosity of Whitman parents will result in a lot more, including clothing, books, furniture and money for living expenses.

On Sunday, Mr. Tepper will pick up James and Ja’Mya at their home, and he and his family take them to the La Miche Restaurant in Bethesda, which has volunteered to have the Halls as their guests. On the way, they will stop over at the Tepper home, where James will be shown a desk and a dresser to be given to them.

Mr. Tepper and La Miche (one of the area's premier restaurants) will join in efforts to organize other restaurants in DC and Maryland to invite James and Ja’Mya as their guests, with the goal of their being able to have at least one meal out every week.

Mr. Tepper will also seek out assistance (goods and services) from other Bethesda sources. "This can be an ideal Bethesda-DC combined effort, one that brings smiles to the hearts of all involved," he said.

"As I told James," Mr. Tepper said, "he is a hero and a wonderful man. When he says "thanks" to me, I tell him that I thank him for what he is doing and for the opportunity that he has given to so many others to do some good. Sometimes a news item tells a story that goes way beyond its basic facts; this one is about life, love and perseverance. All participating Whitman parents will benefit from their pitching in, and in a way that is very difficult to describe. This story by Manny Fernandez has an ending that is many years off. I am so very grateful for the lovingly-written article that he gave to us all. Because of it, we grow as a community helping James and Ja’Mya to grow as individuals and a family."

(For more details, Mr. Tepper may be reached at jutepper@erols.com; 301-229-0300 (his law office); and 301-320-3366 (his home).)

— Press Release
Washington Post


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