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Lending Hands

BY Kristen Schott | November 6, 2018 | Feature Features National

DC isn't simply our nation's capital. It's a place where the spirit of giving back is written into our souls, and charity is a way of life. Here are the figures who help make up the heart of the District and keep it beating every day.
Brooks and Erin Orpik; shot on location at 672 flats, Ballston

Brooks and Erin Orpik change the game for kids.

It’s safe to say Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik and wife Erin have spirit. Sure, for the Stanley Cup Championship team, but also for giving back in a meaningful way. And as parents to two daughters, the couple, who split their time between Arlington and Cohasset, Mass., are dedicated to kids. “We’ve always been involved with a variety of charities, but... our perspective definitely changed when we had our two girls,” says Brooks. Not surprisingly, he was the team’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy this year for his donation of equipment to the Tucker Road Youth Hockey Program after its rink was destroyed by a fire and he and Erin’s efforts with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. They’ve coordinated the Wish Upon a Par event (set for Jan. 13 at Ashburn Topgolf) since it began three years ago. “That’s my wife’s doing,” says Brooks. “When we were in Pittsburgh [he was on the team], she started Pens and Pins. It was a bowling event with the Penguins, and then she had the idea to turn it into the golf event.” Numerous Capitals players are involved; this year’s event raised nearly $35,000 for the charity’s efforts to grant young ones with chronic diseases their dreams, no matter how big. “Obviously, it’s special for the kids,” says Brooks, “but seeing the reaction from the parents is one of the most rewarding things.”

Mona Hamdy gives on a global scale.

This is a woman with vision. Yes, Mona Hamdy has a global perspective to creating change. The idea stems from her Egyptian roots, says Hamdy, who grew up in Cairo and lives between DC and Boston (she’s a teaching fellow in applied ethics at Harvard), and is the co-founder of charitable and tech-minded projects and firms from here to California to Saudi Arabia. “No life is more sacred than the next. We are each integral parts of the human ecosystem,” she says. “Most big problems stem from disconnects in the system when we forget this simple fact.” Today, she has three focuses, all with a far-reaching approach and tie to the District. Take arts and culture. “DC is global, multicultural and diverse,” she says. “It’s exciting to have this moment where it takes its natural place as not just a political capital, but a cultural one as well.” Her DC-based projects with SemSem’s Abeer Al Otaiba elevate local creativity and fuel understanding among the U.S., Africa and the Arab world. She’s teamed with Howard University President Wayne Frederick and Akon to “incentivize education reform from inside the system.” Then there’s technology. She’s working with Microsoft Research and Glen Weyl on modeling radically extended market exchange for future social growth. She and HamdyFont partner Maria Trabocchi are also collaborating with Richard Branson on a blockchain platform to find a 21st-century solution to ocean cleanup. And her vision? “Hope is the lifeblood of our species. It makes us excited about making Mars in the image of Earth. Wouldn’t it be great if we made sure Earth looked like Earth before we left?”

Photography Courtesy Of: