Young people pitch in to spruce up Mary Estes Park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

When the office of Suffolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney organized a Neighborhood Clean-Up project for the Hunter/County Street area, youth from the Suffolk Unit Boys and Girls Club and many adults came to the party.

The event was staged at Mary Estes Park, with tents to shade the foods and beverages brought for the youth. However, they didn’t have much time to sit under the shade of the giant oak trees in the park since they were spending the day traveling up and down the streets in search of anything not nailed down to the landscape.

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&uot;It was so hot, but we had a great time cleaning up,&uot; said McKinsey Bullock. &uot;We wanted to help the people here to fix up their neighborhood so we went around cleaning up yards, the sides of the streets and it looks so much better already.&uot;

Actually, the children were all a part of an effort to help local citizens &uot;take back their neighborhoods,&uot; said Diana Klink, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson. She came up with the idea after meeting some of the senior citizens while on her way to Suffolk’s &uot;Care Fair.&uot;

&uot;It is unfortunate that in these times we so often hear only the negative things involving our youth, and not the good that they do in our community,&uot; said Klink. &uot;These are truly outstanding young people with great promise, industry and talent. The residents and senior citizens of the community are thrilled with the help they received from the children. They treated the youth to a delicious lunch after the clean-up in appreciation of their efforts.&uot;

This effort, like several similar events across the city, is an important facet of the commonwealth’s attorney’s TRIAD Program, which is geared to help protect and educate senior citizens.

&uot;We believe in our youth and we consider them as true &uot;Window Fixers&uot; in our community,&uot; said Klink. &uot;Mr. Ferguson believes that if we &uot;Fix One Window at a Time,&uot; it will improve our community. That program is an ongoing theme for our National Night Out efforts.&uot;

Klink also noted that only in a city like Suffolk can you have such a fantastic partnership among various city departments. She pointed out that the Hunter Street event was the result of cooperation between Suffolk’s Department of Parks & Recreation, Neighborhood Development Services and Public Works.

Alvin Sears, a member of South Suffolk/Pleasant Hill Civic League, said the residents of the neighborhood really were able to reclaim their neighborhood thanks to the Boys and Girls Club.

Marion Wright, secretary/treasurer of the civic league, said Eleanor Clark, president, and the members are working to improve their neighborhood.

&uot;This is a big help for us because we are all seniors in the neighborhood and we cannot do this alone,&uot; said Wright. &uot;It is wonderful to have the youth out here to help us.&uot;

Latasha Newton, of the Boys and Girls Club, said the youth were excited to join in the clean-up project.

&uot;This is just one of the community service projects within our Keystone Club,&uot; said Newton. &uot;It’s an opportunity to help the community because they help us.&uot;

One of the volunteers at the event, David Kenny, came from Chesapeake to help clean up the Hunter Street neighborhood where he played as a youth.

He said he’d only come to visit in the neighborhood and saw all the excitement at the park and decided that he would see what was happening. When he found out it was a cleanup effort, he put on the blaze orange vest and picked up a trash bag and got to work.

&uot;My mother still lives over here and I visit her every morning,&uot; said Kenny. &uot;I attended John F. Kennedy and graduated in 1981 from Forest Glen High School, and I still love Mary Estes Park. I spent hours playing here as a child and I’m so glad to see its being taken care of. I believe in community service and I’m teaching my daughter, Shad’e, about being of service to others. Kids need to be trained to accept their responsibility as citizens.&uot;