Photo by Elizabeth Dranitzke

Martha Huizenga

Martha Huizenga was awarded a Community Achievement Award in 2012, acknowledging her years of service as an officer and Board member of CHAMPS, the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, and the Capitol Hill Group Ministry. 

Most of the conversation in this interview focuses on the tasks she has performed for community organizations, including founding and running the popular annual Community Foundation Literary Feast dinners, co-chairing the Group Ministry annual golf tournament, and operating McKenna's Wagon to distibute food to the homeless population for Martha's Table in Northwest Washington.

Read Transcript
Interview Date
January 31, 2012
Stephanie Deutsch
David MacKinnon
Elizabeth Lewis

Full Directory


DEUTSCH: It is January 31, 2012, and I am here with Martha Huizenga. Martha, why don’t you start by telling me where you grew up?

HUIZENGA: I grew up in Dolton, Illinois. It’s on the south side of Chicago. And I lived there until I was 24.

DEUTSCH: What kind of neighborhood was it?
HUIZENGA: Suburban. It’s about a mile out of the city limits. So it’s probably less suburban than some,

but it’s suburban still.
DEUTSCH: And you went to public school?

HUIZENGA: I went to public school. I went to Roosevelt Elementary, from K[indergarten] through eighth, which was a few blocks away. So we walked to school. And then I went to Thornton Township High School, which is in Harvey, Illinois.

DEUTSCH: And what did you do in high school?

HUIZENGA: What did I do? I was in the band.

DEUTSCH: What did you play?

HUIZENGA: Clarinet. It was the marching band, and then there was a symphony band when it wasn’t marching season. And I was also on the swim team and the gymnastics team.

DEUTSCH: Oh! That kept you pretty busy.
HUIZENGA: It did. They’re kind of right in a row actually. Swimming is in the fall and then gymnastics

is in the winter.
DEUTSCH: And I guess marching band is all the time?HUIZENGA: Yeah, pretty much.
DEUTSCH: And what did your parents do?

HUIZENGA: My dad worked at RR Donnelley. It’s called RR Donnelley and Sons. And it’s in Chicago. It’s a printing company. He worked there all of his life and my mom worked, and still does work, at Sears.

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DEUTSCH: You should send her my book [You Need a Schoolhouse: Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and the Building of Schools for the Segregated South].

HUIZENGA: Yes I should.

DEUTSCH: What does she do at Sears?

HUIZENGA: She works in the back—returns, does a lot of computer work. I tell her she’s never going to get rid of her job because no one else can do it when she’s on vacation. They always get bad reports.

DEUTSCH: And do you have brothers and sisters?
HUIZENGA: I have one brother, Eric, and he lives in Chicago now. He has three children, two from his

first marriage and one from his current marriage.

DEUTSCH: So you are an aunt?

HUIZENGA: I’m an aunt, yes.

DEUTSCH: And so where did you go to school?

HUIZENGA: I went to Cornell College for undergrad. It’s in Iowa—Mt. Vernon, Iowa. And then I went to Roosevelt University, which is in Chicago, for my graduate degree. I have a Master’s in accounting.

DEUTSCH: Tell me about Roosevelt College.

HUIZENGA: Roosevelt University?

DEUTSCH: Roosevelt University.

HUIZENGA: It’s a very diverse school; a lot of international students. There’s a downtown campus and there’s a suburban campus on the north side.

DEUTSCH: So you went to Roosevelt University for accounting?

HUIZENGA: Roosevelt University for accounting. I spent probably two and a half years there, I guess.

DEUTSCH: Living in downtown Chicago or living at home?

HUIZENGA: I lived at home until later in my degree. And I worked three part-time jobs while I was going to school.

DEUTSCH: Oh! What were the jobs?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: Well actually, I guess, two part-time and one full-time. I worked for the Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor. It was sort of like an internship, but I worked there full time. And then I worked at Paul Harris, which was a women’s clothing store. I don’t think it’s around anymore. And I worked at Bennigan’s [restaurant]. In the mornings, I would go in and do the books, close out the cash registers from the night before. It was a nightmare job, actually.

DEUTSCH: And did you have a goal in mind when you were doing that?
HUIZENGA: I was going to be a CPA [Certified Public Accountant]. But I took the CPA [exam] twice

and it wasn’t my thing.


HUIZENGA: I passed law. I should have been a lawyer, I guess. So then towards the end of my degree, I got a job with MCI [Microwave Communications, Inc., later part of Verizon]. I met a friend from college at the gym and she said they were hiring. And they hired 19 people in like a two-week period. So I was one of them.

DEUTSCH: To do what?

HUIZENGA: I was what they called auditor. But we audited bills that we got from the other telephone companies. So Bell Atlantic would send us a bill for the long distance charges that their customers were incurring with us and we would have to pay those. [Pause] So we make sure that they were paying the right amount of money, basically for MCI.

DEUTSCH: And what came next after that?

HUIZENGA: Then I moved with MCI to Washington. I worked in Tyson’s Corner.

DEUTSCH: That must have been exciting.

HUIZENGA: Yes it was. And it was in the days when they packed your apartment and they actually moved all your stuff.

DEUTSCH: And paid for it?

HUIZENGA: And paid for it. And they paid for me to come out here and look for an apartment. So this is one company that really had money. And I moved to Alexandria. I guess I was 26. Moved here, worked in Tyson’s Corner, took the Metro and the bus out there, didn’t have a car. And I worked in the systems group that supported the group I was in before, basically gathering requirements. We built systems for

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them to use. I worked in MCI a total of seven years, probably five here and two in Chicago. And then I moved on.

DEUTSCH: And how did you like being in Washington? I mean that was a big change.

HUIZENGA: It was big change. At first it was difficult. You know, I was used to taking the bus everywhere in Chicago. It’s much easier to take the bus everywhere, and it’s much less expensive. That’s what I had and I was used to it, so I did it here. I found it a little bit difficult. Everyone drove everywhere, and Tyson’s Corner is kind of far out.

But I liked it. I did like it, yeah. You know it’s a different kind of city. Washington is still a city but it’s smaller. I didn’t find the theater to be as good as it was in Chicago. We had a lot of smaller theaters in Chicago. We do have some of those here but [I really had] to be here for a while before I realized that.

And it takes a while to get acclimated here. It’s very transient. So I felt like I didn’t really have a lot of close friends until I’d lived here for about two and a half years, which is when I met Matt [her husband, Matt Wade], so then I had a few close friends. Actually the two closest friends I had moved away at that time, so good thing I met Matt, because otherwise ...

DEUTSCH: Right, and did you meet Matt at work?

HUIZENGA: No, through a mutual friend, one of them who moved away. She introduced us at a group outing. We met at a bar and he worked at Bell Atlantic and I worked at MCI. So we were in the same industry.

DEUTSCH: And did things click right away?
HUIZENGA: Yeah, I guess so. Slow moving, but yeah. We only dated for a year and a half before we

got married, so I guess it must have clicked right away, huh? [Laughs]
DEUTSCH: Yeah, I would say. So you got married. And did you move to the Hill at that point?HUIZENGA: When we got married we moved to the Hill, yep.
DEUTSCH: And what brought you to the Hill?

HUIZENGA: We wanted to live in an urban setting. Matt lived in Beltsville, Maryland, and I lived in Alexandria, Virginia, so we were on opposite sides of the city. We looked in Alexandria. We thought about Bethesda. We looked in Northwest DC. And I said we should look on Capitol Hill. And Matt said, “Southeast?”

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And so one day I dragged him to Eastern Market, and we looked in the windows of the real estate agents and went by some of the houses. And he decided that he could probably live here. It wasn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be. It was 1997, so where we live on Kentucky was kind of on the edge of where you would want to live on the Hill at that time. We moved here in February. Actually, February 1st will be 15 years in our house. And we got married in April.

DEUTSCH: Got married back in Chicago?
HUIZENGA: Yep, back in Chicago. Actually my mother goes to church in Indiana, just over the border,

so we got married in Indiana.

The interesting story about our wedding is that, two days before the ceremony, we were supposed to go get our license in Indiana. I had the form that they asked me to fill out to show that I had a rubella shot— that’s their thing. And so I called to get directions, and the woman said, “You have your birth certificates, right?” And I said, “No, we have our driver’s licenses and this form you asked me to fill out.” She said, “Oh, you need your birth certificate.” And I said, “But I called in January, February and March, and you said I needed my driver’s license.” And she said, “No, we changed the rule in April.” And I said, “Well, isn’t there some sort of grandfather clause or something, because I called three times?” And she said, “Well, you called early, too early.” I said, “I’m getting married. Of course I called too early, I’m planning!”

DEUTSCH: I’m planning. It’s called planning.

HUIZENGA: And so she said, “No, there [is] no way.” And Matt was on a plane and there was no way he could get his birth certificate because I knew he didn’t have it in his back pocket. Mine was easy because I was born there.

So we got married. We had already planned a dinner after the wedding because we had an afternoon wedding where family was going to come, so we could spend more time with them. And so the priest came. That dinner happened to be in Illinois. So the priest came and he did a little ceremony again so that he could sign it and say that we actually got married in Illinois.

DEUTSCH: So you actually had gotten married twice?
HUIZENGA: We got married twice on the same day. So Matt and I have been married twice now.

DEUTSCH: Well, that’s good.

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HUIZENGA: That’s why it sticks.

DEUTSCH: So, when did you start your company [DC Access, a local Internet Service Provider]?

HUIZENGA: Matt started in 1999 and I joined him in 2004. So between MCI and 2004, I worked for a small systems company call Kenan [Kenan Systems Corporation], which was in L’Enfant Promenade, a building down there ...

DEUTSCH: When you say a small systems company, what does that mean?

HUIZENGA: They created billing systems for telecom companies. So they are a software company. And I was hired to create a specific billing system that companies would use, like MCI, to do the very auditing that I did when I was an auditor at MCI. That lasted about six months. They didn’t have what it took to do it. I created the requirements. I worked with another person. And they didn’t have a project manager to move it on, and so I left because I was basically then in this special projects zone where I knew that they didn’t know what to do with me. [Laughs] So I moved to a consulting company [TeleCon, LLC] which is a bunch of ex-MCIers. I was the eighth person that they hired, and through those years then we went from a consulting company to partnering with another software company and then eventually being bought by a software company. So I worked there from 1998 till 2004.

DEUTSCH: And meanwhile Matt has started.

HUIZENGA: Yep, Matt had started DC Access. Started more as a networking company so he would come to people’s offices and help you set up your computers and your printers and your LAN [Local Area Network]. But was also doing the dial-up internet at the time. And as the company changed, he was doing more dial-up, more dial-up, and in 2003 [he] started the wireless internet which is what we do primarily now.

DEUTSCH: And that was pretty cutting edge then, wasn’t it?

HUIZENGA: It was pretty cutting edge then, yeah. That was kind of the start of them. He had looked at things like DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] and it just wasn’t a moneymaker for somebody who’s not Verizon. And so that’s why he started wireless. Yep, that was pretty cutting edge then.

DEUTSCH: And what was it about him that made him so astute about that?

HUIZENGA: He has an electrical engineering and a computer science degree from Duke. So he knows all the stuff about electricity, but also knows all the computer stuff at the same time. And Matt likes to read non-fiction. So he can pick up a book about whatever non-fiction subject—you know, wireless

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

internet for instance—and read it and devour it and understand it. So he definitely just did some research and decided this was the way to go.

DEUTSCH: So did he start recruiting you pretty soon, or ...

HUIZENGA: He didn’t, no. You know it was a while before—I mean, with the network stuff, he made a lot more money, so he was able to do that. The wireless stuff was kind of on the side, if you will. But as the company grew, he decided he couldn’t do the networking stuff anymore. It was kind of two separate businesses. And it wasn’t until late 2003 that we thought he needed help and we were trying to figure out how to do that. So I started working four days a week, actually four ten-hour days. I was hoping for 32 hours, but didn’t negotiate that into it. I would take off on Fridays and I would work for DC Access and help him do what ever he needed to do. And then in January of 2004—and this was kind of our goal to see how it worked—I left my company which was called Vibrant [Solutions], to work for DC Access full time. And I will say that Vibrant was actually starting to lay people off, and you could see the writing on the wall is that [it] was going to go under, and it eventually did, so. Eventually I would have gotten laid off, so it was sort of ...

DEUTSCH: It was a good move.
HUIZENGA: It was a good move, yeah. And we knew we had enough money for both of us to have our

eggs in one basket for about a year, and if it didn’t take off, then we would do something different.DEUTSCH: But it did?
HUIZENGA: It did, yeah. It’s been seven years now, almost eight I guess.
DEUTSCH: So now you have many clients?

HUIZENGA: Now we have one employee and two contractors. We also use other contractors, marketing people, and that kind of thing to do other stuff. Yep, and we have many clients, just about 1,000 I guess.

DEUTSCH: Most of them on the Hill?
HUIZENGA: Most of them on the Hill, some in Northwest.DEUTSCH: So it’s been good?
HUIZENGA: It has been good, yeah.

DEUTSCH: And at what point in all this did you get started at CHAMPS [Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals]?

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HUIZENGA: Matt was involved in CHAMPS before I started with DC Access. And so when I came on, I took over the role of CHAMPS because I was doing more of the sales, marketing, business development kind of side operations. I took that over in 2005, so only a year later I was vice president [of CHAMPS]. I think I joined the board in 2004, though, right away.

DEUTSCH: Why do you think that was?

HUIZENGA: I’m a joiner [laughs]! I cannot say no, and I’m a joiner.

DEUTSCH: So you were a perfect choice?

HUIZENGA: Yes, I am my mother’s daughter.

DEUTSCH: And what were the main issues facing CHAMPS then?

HUIZENGA: I can’t really recall any, but it was definitely more about running your business than there were issues on the Hill, because the Hill wasn’t really changing that much at that point ...

DEUTSCH: You mean helping people ...

HUIZENGA: Helping people run their business, yeah. We had a lot of breakfast seminars about what to do in certain situations—accounting and different types of business solutions. It was more about that, and just gaining more members.

DEUTSCH: How many members does CHAMPS have now?
HUIZENGA: I think like 250 or 300. There certainly are a lot more businesses on the Hill, but not

everybody is a member.
DEUTSCH: What percentage of the businesses on the Hill would you say are members?

HUIZENGA: Good question. I would say maybe 25 percent. I bet if you counted all businesses— [including] home businesses, you know, like ours—there’s probably about a thousand businesses on the greater Capitol Hill. And I would think we only have 250 or 300 members.

DEUTSCH: So that was basically a good experience?
HUIZENGA: It was, yeah.
DEUTSCH: And then you proceeded very smoothly from vice president to president?HUIZENGA: Vice president to president, yep. Board member, vice president, president.

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DEUTSCH: And so being president meant you were ex-officio on the Capitol Hill Community Foundation?

HUIZENGA: Yes, and vice president too.DEUTSCH: Oh, when you’re vice president ...

HUIZENGA: Yep, you’re both—but both of those people are ex-officio on the Community Foundation Board.

DEUTSCH: And so then after a few years of that you were invited to join that board.
HUIZENGA: Yep, after my presidency was up, I was invited to join that board and I decided to stay

because I enjoyed it.

DEUTSCH: And I know quite a bit about what you’ve done on the board of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, but this tape recorder does not, so ...

HUIZENGA: Does not, yes. So yeah, in 2009, when my reign as president of CHAMPS ended, I joined the Foundation Board as a regular board member instead of ex-officio.

DEUTSCH: I know you were active with the grants committee.

HUIZENGA: Yeah the grants committee. I feel like the grants committee really helps on the Hill. Especially if you are not a parent, because you learn a lot about things that parents are doing on the Hill, and then there’s other social activities, social services activities and gardening that you have no idea are happening if you’re not really clued in. And then, I guess we started the Literary Feast.

DEUTSCH: 2003, 2004?
HUIZENGA: No, because I was already on the board. So it must have been 2010. But that doesn’t make

any sense does it?
DEUTSCH: It’s probably been at least five years.

HUIZENGA: Oh, so maybe it was when I was the vice president, right as I joined when I was ex-officio. So maybe 2005, because this is going to be [the seventh Literary Feast] or something.

It was Karen [Lyon] and Kristen [Hartke] and I. Nicky [Cymrot] came to us and said, “We’d like to have something,” and Karen had the idea to do the Literary Feast. And we kind of put that together, the three of us with a committee of people. We kind of started that and that started it every year. Kristen and Karen

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and I did it for, I think, three years, and then the fourth year Jennifer [Dalzell] and I were co-chairs until she moved to Italy. And then last year, I think was our fifth—I feel like there is one more—maybe it was four years with the three of us.

DEUTSCH: And so last year did you do it by yourself?
HUIZENGA: I did. There was a committee, but yeah, I was the chair. Todd [Cymrot], I think, sort of

was co-chair, but he might not say that if you asked him.DEUTSCH: And how much money did it raise last year?HUIZENGA: About $27,000.
DEUTSCH: Which is great. What did you like about that?HUIZENGA: What did I like about the Literary Feast?DEUTSCH: Yeah. It’s big organizational task.

HUIZENGA: It is a big organizational task. I like that it’s a community event and that so many people really enjoy going to people’s houses that they may never have met. That’s the best thing about the Literary Feast—you go to someone’s house to have dinner and you might not have met them and you might not know anyone else at the party. Which I believe only Capitol Hill people would find fun! [Laugher] But, we do it really well, so I think that’s the best part of it—the community event and [the fact] that it raises money for the community. And it brings in a lot of different people to the Foundation that we don’t normally touch.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, it’s true, it brings in new ...
HUIZENGA: A new group, yeah, and this year especially we brought in some new people that had never

been before, so that’s great.
DEUTSCH: And then the Capitol Hill Group Ministry.

HUIZENGA: Yes. I was on the board for six years of the Capitol Hill Group Ministry. I left last year, I think, so it was probably 2004 to 2010, and for one year I was the vice president. They do not have a succession plan as CHAMPS does, so I did not have to be the president. I keep telling them they should, but I was glad they didn’t when I was there [laughs].

DEUTSCH: And what led you to the Group Ministry?

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HUIZENGA: When we put up our third tower—which is actually in the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church—for DC Access, we gave free internet to Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, as well as Capitol Hill Group Ministry because they had an office there. And that was kind of our first introduction to Capitol Hill Group Ministry.

Then shortly after that, Emily Guthrie, who was the executive director, put an email out to CHAMPS asking for a community member to be on the board for people who were interested. And they were looking for a business person. For the whole time I have lived in Alexandria and DC, [I] have done work with Martha’s Table. I have a lot of interest in homeless issues and kind of find that as one of my callings. So when they were asking for that, I put my name in because I was very interested in that. But not sure that I would have known anything about it had we not put our tower up, so it was kind of chance. So that’s when I joined. I don’t know that they got any other interest from the CHAMPS members.

So that’s when I joined, and I think I was vice president like the second year I was there—second or third year [laughs]. I just jump right in. But shortly after I was there, I think the second year—might have been the first year—they asked me to help out with the golf tournament. And I was the person who was going to go around and get all the door prizes. So it’s been an easy task, you know. People were helping, they said—data spreadsheet and everything, so it wasn’t a new task. And then I think I might have done that for two years, and then the third year I was the chair with Ken Allen, and we were the chairs for the next three or four years. Again, jumping right in with both feet.

DEUTSCH: Did you actually play in the tournaments?
HUIZENGA: I don’t play golf at all. I have, but I don’t. So yeah, I just know how to run a golf

tournament. I don’t actually golf.
DEUTSCH: Probably better.
DEUTSCH: And how did you feel about the Group Ministry? What kind of experience was that?HUIZENGA: It was a good experience. You know, they had their ups and downs while I was there.DEUTSCH: They changed leadership while you were there.

HUIZENGA: They changed leadership while I was there. You know, through my term with CHAMPS, they changed leadership three times while I was there. So I know a lot about changing leadership, and that’s always a hard thing for an organization, I think. It went probably smoother with Capitol Hill Group

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Ministry because they didn’t have a span when there was no one in between. That’s always harder. But, yeah, it was definitely interesting to be involved in selecting the new executive director and all of those different times. And I think they found a great new executive director [Barfonce Baldwin]. She’s done a great job.

DEUTSCH: What were the main issues facing the Group Ministry when you were there? Change of leadership was obviously one. And increased need I guess.

HUIZENGA: Increased need, definitely. In the last couple of years, it’s been increased need just with the economy. I see that with my Martha’s Table work, too. There’s a lot of new people that come to McKenna’s wagon.

And you know, things changed in DC as far as homelessness went. Mayor Fenty put in the Housing First Act which meant that you can do emergency shelter but there was no interim housing. It went right from emergency shelter into housing. Hasn’t worked out that great because we don’t have enough housing. Actually Barfonce [Baldwin, executive director Capitol Hill Group Ministry] mentioned at the annual meeting just a couple of weeks ago that the average rent for somebody is $1,200 for a one bedroom apartment. And the average person that is a Group Ministry client only makes about $621 a month. So they don’t even make enough to pay a whole month’s rent, let alone food and utilities and all that. So that’s been a big thing. And that Housing First thing I thought sounded really great, but it just didn’t work out very well. So there’s been a lot of those kind of lobbying issues.

DEUTSCH: I think it also raised expectations very high. So that there are a lot of people out there thinking, “Well, if I can just get into a program, I’ll get the housing.”

HUIZENGA: Right, “I’m going to have a house.”

DEUTSCH: So, you’re not on the Group Ministry board anymore?

HUIZENGA: I’m not, I left last year. I’m only on the Foundation board right now.

DEUTSCH: And do you have any particular things you want to see accomplished on the Foundation board?

HUIZENGA: I would like to see us do a better job of reaching out to the community in general, and we have been talking a lot about that. I think Laurie Sprung is going to do a great job at that and we’re all going to be able to help her. And it would be great to find a way for the Literary Feast to make ...


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DEUTSCH: I’m talking with Martha Huizenga about the Literary Feasts, trying to make them raise a little more money.

HUIZENGA: Right. So I think if we had a bigger space or another way to gain some money ... Laurie [Sprung] and I and Todd have all talked about having some sponsorships for the after party. You, know, so that we could raise a little bit more money and have less of our expenses come from that money that we raise.

DEUTSCH: Have more of the expenses underwritten.HUIZENGA: Yes.

DEUTSCH: What are the changes that you’ve seen in the Capitol Hill community since you’ve been here?

HUIZENGA: Well there have been lots of changes. You wouldn’t recognize Eighth Street (SE) if you put it back. I saw pictures one day. I was like, “Where’s that?” Yeah, Eighth Street was not a place that we actually went when we first moved here because there wasn’t really anything down there. I mean the Hill has expanded. Definitely, we lived on the edge and we didn’t really spend much time beyond unless we went to RFK [Robert F. Kennedy Stadium] for something. But, yeah, it’s definitely expanded ... a lot of new buildings. Not just new business buildings and new businesses, but new condo buildings, a few of them taller than I would like.

DEUTSCH: What are you thinking of?

HUIZENGA: Harris Teeter building, Jenkins Row. I feel like it kind of sticks out right there. And I think the Hine [Junior High School redevelopment project] building is going to stick out, even though Hine is there and they say it’s just as tall. I don’t want to live on Dupont Circle.

DEUTSCH: It’s going to be more massive, I think.

HUIZENGA: Yeah. I like our two- and three-story, every once and a while a four-, maybe a five-story, older apartment building. The one they kind of stuck right ... at least that one’s near the Metro and near the business district. The Jenkins Row is kind of just there. It just kind of pops up in the middle of nowhere. Not my favorite, but ...

DEUTSCH: Was there something in the way you grew up that made you get involved with the community? Was that something you learned at home?

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HUIZENGA: Yeah. From my mother, I think. My mother has always been involved in something: church—she’s the treasurer, she’s always been on the vestry ...

DEUTSCH: Always?

HUIZENGA: For a good portion of time that I remember.

DEUTSCH: What church is she ...

HUIZENGA: She’s Episcopalian, born and bred. Me too. And she goes St. Paul’s in Munster, Indiana.

DEUTSCH: Munster?

HUIZENGA: Yup. M-U-N-S-T-E-R. She was on the PTA [Parent Teachers Association] when we were kids. She was in the Junior Women’s Club, which ...

DEUTSCH: Does good works probably.

HUIZENGA: Yeah, does good works. I don’t know if it exists anymore, but they did all sorts of different things for the community. Sort of a Rotary Club kind of thing, but women. You know, she’s an election judge. She’s basically just like me—can’t say no.

DEUTSCH: Does that feel oppressive, that not being able to say no?
HUIZENGA: No, no. I mean, I’m getting better at it actually. With the help of my husband [laughter].

But I think you wouldn’t say yes if you really didn’t want to say yes.DEUTSCH: Tell me about Martha’s Table.

HUIZENGA: I got involved with Martha’s Table because of my Uncle Bill. When I lived in Alexandria, he came to Washington for a conference or something and he was staying at the Washington Hotel, I think that’s what it’s called. Not Washington, no. The one in Dupont [Circle]. It’s a Hilton, I think. Somebody was shot there. One of the presidents or ...

DEUTSCH: Oh, just above Dupont. Yeah, that’s the [Washington] Hilton where Reagan was shot.

HUIZENGA: Is that the Hilton? Yes, yeah. So he stayed there and he likes to go to the Cathedral [Washington Cathedral] for church. He’s Episcopalian as well. And so I hoofed myself up to the Hilton. We walked to the Cathedral from there. It’s pretty much straight up hill. And went to the folk service at the Cathedral. I don’t know if you’ve been to that.


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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: And at the folk service everyone does their little spiel about their volunteer thing that they have for you to join in on. And the Martha’s Table thing was to make sandwiches and bring them to the Cathedral once a month. So I figured, well, once a month I would get to go to the folk service. I’d drop off my sandwiches. It was quite a hike, but I did it. Brought my sandwiches. Maybe not all the time.

DEUTSCH: How many sandwiches did you make?
HUIZENGA: You have to bring two bread bags. So it’s about 24 or 30 sandwiches.DEUTSCH: Yeah, not that many.

HUIZENGA: Not that many. And they tell you exactly what to buy and, you know, there’s no mustard or mayonnaise, so it’s not hard. You’re slapping cheese and meat on two pieces of bread. So I’d go up there and then at some point after I got married, Matt and I went up there a little bit. And at some point they decided they needed help sorting the sandwiches at Martha’s Table. And we were living at ...

DEUTSCH: And is Martha’s Table a physical place?HUIZENGA: Yes. It’s at 14th and V (Streets) NW.DEUTSCH: 14th and D?

HUIZENGA: V as in Victor. So in the U Street (NW) area. They have a kitchen there, and they have sandwiches during the week that people can come in and get. But they also make all of their food there and they take it out on vans at night. And then they also have Martha’s Outfitters, which is like a place where you can get clothes. So you can drop off clothes there as well. You would meet there after church. All the sandwiches that they brought, they would put in the bread bins like bread would come into the supermarket and sort them all out so they were easy to get to. So I thought, “Well that would be great because I can bring my sandwiches but I only have to drive to Martha’s Table. I don’t have to drive all the way to the Cathedral.”

So I started doing that, and then I started going out on the van, which is called McKenna’s Wagon, every once in a while when they needed an extra volunteer. And then Joe, who was heading the van at the time, asked if I would come on full time to the van. Then I didn’t bring sandwiches anymore. I just went out on the van. And that’s the same day. It’s always the third Sunday of the month. And shortly after I joined— probably I was doing it a couple of years—Joe decided he wasn’t going to do it anymore and he asked if I would do it.

DEUTSCH: So you were in charge of the van then?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: So I was in charge of the van [laughs]. So now I’m in charge of the van. And we used to have five volunteers. Things have changed the way we do things. Now we only have three. It’s the same three volunteers every month unless one of us can’t come. Then we find an alternate. The other van that goes out is a different—it’s the same church—the same day we go a different church, but the same church every time. But they have a different group of people every time. So I found that would be a little harder. So the third Sunday of every month I drive up there. We drive the van to Second and H [Streets NW], which is our new location. [Subsequent clarification provided by interviewee: Martha’s Table has two vans that go to specified locations each day. On the third Sunday of each month, the interviewee, representing Washington Cathedral, worked a van that made one stop, and King of King’s from

Virginia worked a van that made two stops.]DEUTSCH: Northwest?

HUIZENGA: Northwest. Right there by the union building. And it’s a really busy street, but people line up and ...

DEUTSCH: For sandwiches?

HUIZENGA: For sandwiches and hot food and fruit.

DEUTSCH: What’s the hot food?

HUIZENGA: That’s a new thing they’re doing. It used to be soup, but now it’s not soup. It’s either a rice or pasta dish. And we actually scoop it out into take home things.

DEUTSCH: And who makes—are those donated by different churches?

HUIZENGA: No, that is made by Martha’s Table. All the food that they get. They’ve made some interesting things over the years. Soup with chicken wings in it. Actual bones. Sometimes it will have multiple kinds of meat. The guys always want to know, “Well, what’s in the soup today?” I’m like, “I don’t know, I didn’t make it.”

DEUTSCH: So is it made by volunteers at Martha’s Table?

HUIZENGA: No, they have a staff that cooks. And they have a big commercial kitchen—big pots and stuff. And then it’s put in this hot container thing and there are just slide trays that we bring. There’s usually three or four of them so we can have enough food for everybody.

DEUTSCH: And I suppose there’s a lot more business in the winter than in the summer, or ...

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HUIZENGA: No it’s kind of the same.

DEUTSCH: Steady all year?

HUIZENGA: It’s kind of steady. We get less business if there’s a football game on.

DEUTSCH: That’s interesting.

HUIZENGA: Sometimes, when we’re at Martha’s Table, we’ll say, “Well, the Redskins are playing at four so we might not have many people.”

DEUTSCH: And do you get to know the people? Do you see the same people week after week?

HUIZENGA: We do. Occasionally there’s some new people. Last month in January there was some newer people. We handed out hats and mittens and scarves in January that I got from my block. It was well received. We gave them all away. Had a couple of sweaters. But yeah, the same—generally the same people, mostly men. A few women, but not very many.

DEUTSCH: Do you think it’s because of the location or ...

HUIZENGA: You know, over the summer we had some new women. The women are always much more interested to talk to you and tell you that they got an apartment or a job, and it’s great to hear their stories. But I don’t know if it’s the location ... it could be because that’s kind of a weird location. But we’ve moved a couple of times now with the building that’s been going on, because we used to be at K and Fifth NW. So when they built that Safeway building, we moved down the street, and then they moved us to this location. Yeah it could be. The other location is at McPherson Square, so maybe you get more women down there because it’s downtown and maybe a little safer. Sometimes we get couples that come. But mostly men, mostly older men. Sometimes some people who could probably use some medication. But it’s an interesting thing. Always—most of them are always very grateful that we’re there taking the time to give them food.

DEUTSCH: I think that was originally founded by Gonzaga wasn’t it? McKenna’s Wagon.HUIZENGA: Maybe, yeah.
DEUTSCH: I think it started as a thing over there.
HUIZENGA: As a thing that they did, yep.

DEUTSCH: So what’s left? You’re still young. What do you aspire to do? [Laughter]

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: I was thinking about that when I was thinking about what was I going to say at the Foundation dinner. I was thinking, “Well, I still have at least 20 years left, right?”

DEUTSCH: I should think at least.
HUIZENGA: Hopefully 40, given that my father is almost 80. Hopefully I have 40 left.DEUTSCH: I’d say 40 at least.

HUIZENGA: So, yeah, what’s left? I don’t know. I’ll continue to be involved in the Foundation. And, you know, I’m involved in the Capitol Hill Art League. I’m not on the board. They’ve asked me to be on the steering committee several times and I’ve always said no. But I help with their website because we host, so I do the updates as a volunteer.

DEUTSCH: And I know you are a photographer. Let’s remember to talk about that. I want to talk about that before we end.

HUIZENGA: Yeah, okay. So I’ve been involved in that, and that’s interesting to me, but not interesting enough yet to join the steering committee. And, you know, maybe there’s another stint at the Capitol Hill Group Ministry Board or some other board. Right now DC Access is really busy. And I’m in a book club, trying to do some personal stuff too [laughs].

DEUTSCH: Imagine that.
HUIZENGA: Imagine that. So DC Access got really busy, and a lot of the stuff I was doing happens

sometimes during the day. And so I just don’t have time for that anymore. So I’m kind of on hiatus.DEUTSCH: And I know you’re a photographer.

HUIZENGA: Yes. I have not been doing as much photography as I had in the past, but I did just start another darkroom course in January.

DEUTSCH: Darkroom? Isn’t that awfully old fashioned?

HUIZENGA: Yeah. So I’m a film photographer. It is old fashioned [laughs].

DEUTSCH: So you stuck with film?

HUIZENGA: I have a digital too. You know both of them take time, so I have probably not thousands, but hundreds of digital pictures. And I have not gone through them or done anything with them. I’ve

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

printed a couple. And then I have reams of negatives from my film camera and I continue to do both. I just got my digital last year, so that’s kind of new for me.

DEUTSCH: That’s so funny that you’re such an early adapter. I mean you’re in this very cutting edge technological field but here you are shooting ...

HUIZENGA: Shooting film. Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I use Dad’s film camera that ...DEUTSCH: What is that?

HUIZENGA: It’s a Pentax Super ME. I remember we gave it to him probably—I might have been ten. So it’s 30 some years old. And when I started with DC Access is when I asked my Dad to send me his film camera. Digital was around but it wasn’t huge.

DEUTSCH: What was it about film that you prefer?

HUIZENGA: It’s magical, the process. I develop my own film at the Smithsonian. I go to the Smithsonian for my darkroom class. And then when you’re actually printing the pictures and you put this blank piece of paper in the developer and it comes to life ... Every time! It’s magical!

DEUTSCH: It is kind of wonderful.

HUIZENGA: It’s been six years, and I’m still amazed that, when I pull my negatives out of the roll, they still have pictures on them [laughs]. It’s kind of like, “Oh, I did something right again, look!” So it’s just kind of magical.

DEUTSCH: And then you can fiddle with it a little bit.

HUIZENGA: You can do all sorts of interesting things, which you can do on the computer as well. It actually might be harder on the computer to learn if you’re not computer savvy or you don’t have the right equipment. But yeah, there’s a time for both I would say.

DEUTSCH: What kind of subjects do you like?

HUIZENGA: Mostly landscape photography. I don’t do a lot of people. I have done a little bit of people [but] I’m not very good at people. So the people that I’ve done, it’s been more like, “Oh look, that one came out well,” but I wasn’t planning on it. Trees don’t move.

DEUTSCH: Trees don’t move [laughs]. That’s true. Or change expression at the last minute.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: Right. So, mostly landscapes. I’ve done a little bit of industrial landscape, so buildings. And Bruce McKaig does a class at the Smithsonian which I would love him to do here at our CHAW (Capitol Hill Arts Workshop). That is like street photography. He’s a great photographer, but he has a great eye for that kind of thing. And I would like to take his class on that. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I can’t take two classes. So darkroom usually rules out because that’s just a picture taking class.

DEUTSCH: And where at the Smithsonian is the darkroom?
HUIZENGA: It’s that little gold kiosk between the Freer Gallery and the Castle. It has a name. I can’t

come up with it right now. But you go in there ...

DEUTSCH: Not the Ripley Center?

HUIZENGA: Yes, it’s the Ripley Center, yes. You go three floors down and it’s in the basement.

DEUTSCH: Right, and there’s all kinds of stuff down there.

HUIZENGA: Yeah, and that’s where all their classes are. So there’s a darkroom down there.

DEUTSCH: And I know you had a show. You’ve had a couple of shows around the town.

HUIZENGA: I have. I haven’t had one in a while. And I haven’t done much as far as putting things in the show for the Art League, but I have occasionally.

DEUTSCH: Well maybe now that you’re not on so many boards you’ll have a little more time to ...HUIZENGA: Maybe, yeah.
DEUTSCH: So Martha, I know you’re a runner.

DEUTSCH: Tell me a bit about that.
HUIZENGA: I started as a runner. Well, I shouldn’t say I started. I started in elementary school as not

being very athletic at all.
DEUTSCH: But you were in track you said.HUIZENGA: I did not.
DEUTSCH: Oh no, you swam.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: I swam and did gymnastics. I started running in college as a losing weight mechanism [laughs] along with the swimming. And then throughout my adult life people have said, “Oh, you’re a swimmer, you should do triathlon.” And I been like, “I don’t know about that. It sounds like the swimming part is pretty hard, people swim over you and stuff.”

Finally, I decided I was going to try it. I have a couple friends who do it that are also running friends. So I bought a bike. Actually I borrowed a bike first. And my first triathlon was with my brother—two brother- in-laws and another friend of theirs. So there were four of us. Out of the four of us, I came in second.

DEUTSCH: That’s good.

HUIZENGA: But I also came in first in my age group and third overall, women. It was a small race. But the biking is my by far weakest sport out of the three of them. I was a distance swimmer in high school and college so that part I have down pat. The running I’ve been doing since college, so for more that 20 years. So cycling is new for me. And I probably don’t train near as much as any other triathlete you’ve ever met in your life.

DEUTSCH: So do you do a triathlon every year, or ...

HUIZENGA: Usually two. I either do two sprints or a sprint and an Olympic distance.

DEUTSCH: What is the definition of a sprint?

HUIZENGA: A typical sprint would be an 800 meter swim. Like a 15-mile bike, 15- to 18-mile bike and about a 5K. And an Olympic would be a .9-mile swim. So 1,500 meters. A 26-mile bike and a 10K.

DEUTSCH: Oh, I’m exhausted. Twenty-six mile bike?
HUIZENGA: Bike, yep. And a 10K.
DEUTSCH: How long does it take you to do that?
HUIZENGA: To do an Olympic distance, it takes me like 2:40, two hours and 40 minutes.DEUTSCH: Oh my gosh! And where do you do this?

HUIZENGA: All over the place. I have never done one in DC and refused to because you have to swim the Potomac.


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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Martha Huizenga Interview, January 31, 2012

HUIZENGA: And so I don’t. But, you know, Columbia, Maryland ... I’ve swum in some really awful places too, so probably swimming in the Potomac would not kill me. But there’s one in Columbia, Maryland. There’s one in Montclair, Virginia, which isn’t very far away. You know, Richmond, Williamsburg, all over the place. You can travel far for them. I’d like to do Chicago at some point. Most of them are not close enough to go the morning of. And a lot of times they don’t have packet pickup the morning of, so it costs a lot of money because you wind up paying a lot.

DEUTSCH: You have to spend the ...

HUIZENGA: And you have to spend the night.

DEUTSCH: But I guess when it’s over it’s really exhilarating.

HUIZENGA: Yeah, yeah. And I tend to do smaller races, not bigger races. And then throughout the year.

DEUTSCH: Does Matt do this kind of stuff too?

HUIZENGA: He does not. He runs—not very much these days, but he does run. And I tend to do running races, too, throughout the year.

DEUTSCH: Capitol Hill Classic?
HUIZENGA: Yep. I just signed for the GW [George Washington] Parkway Classic which is in April.DEUTSCH: I did that.
HUIZENGA: Did you? Awesome! When it was a 15K?
DEUTSCH: It was a ten-miler.
HUIZENGA: A ten-miler, okay.

DEUTSCH: It was ten miles, and it was the first race I had ever done. Now, I was helped by the fact that I was like 31 or something. And I hadn’t prepared or anything. And I just did it with a friend and we did come in last, but we talked the entire way [laughter].

HUIZENGA: Yeah. That’s great.
DEUTSCH: Yep. Well it’s such a pretty place to run.HUIZENGA: It is.
DEUTSCH: What was the other thing you mentioned?

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HUIZENGA: Knitting is my other hobby.

DEUTSCH: Knitting! What do you knit?

HUIZENGA: Right now I’m knitting a scarf for my mother that was supposed to be for Christmas.

DEUTSCH: Who taught you to knit, your mother?

HUIZENGA: I think my grandmother taught me to knit and crochet. But I don’t crochet.

DEUTSCH: People seem to be either crocheting people or knitting people.

HUIZENGA: Yeah. And I took a class at Stitch DC to refresh my memory on how to knit. But I’ve been doing that in my adult life for at least five years, I would say.

DEUTSCH: I feel like knitting is coming back.
HUIZENGA: It is. Definitely coming back.
DEUTSCH: Knitting is having resurgence. What is that all about?

HUIZENGA: I don’t know. Maybe it’s a people-getting-together kind of thing. You know, kind of a social thing for people. Crafty. Yeah, it’s definitely coming back. And my friend Janet [Holsinger] makes all sorts of really great things. She has two kids. I don’t know when she has time to do that. But, like I said, I’m still making the scarf for my mother for Christmas. I ran into a few snags, so now I’m well on my way. It should be finished shortly [laughs]. It was lace and that was the problem. Lace is hard. You have to concentrate too much. And I have a lot of unfinished projects, so that’s my goal for the year—to work on my unfinished projects and not start anything new.

DEUTSCH: A very worthwhile goal.

HUIZENGA: Yes. It never happens, but we’ll see. You can’t go to a knitting store if you definitely don’t want to buy anything new, because you go there and you’re like, “Oh this is beautiful though. Oh look at this pattern!” And then you end up with something new [laughs]. So I have a lot of hobbies in addition to working and volunteering.