Jewish World Review Oct. 15, 2012/ 29 Tishrei, 5773
Better than first 100 houses? The second!
By Mitch Albom
We are gathering a small army, fortified with plywood, ladders, nails and hope. We are gathering to do battle Oct..27, on a Saturday morning. The enemy has many members, all ugly and foreboding, decayed on the outside, dark and dangerous on the inside.
But they can be tamed.
And they will be.
Just pick up that nail gun.
Our army is called the 100 Houses project, and in August, thanks to you, it successfully boarded up more than 100 abandoned homes in a single day around
This time, with the
It wasn't always this way.
Scary is for
Kenyetta, 39, moved back to her old neighborhood after earning a degree at
"My 7-year-old daughter already says to me, 'Mommy, I want to go to Cody.'"
She likely will. But her trip to school should not be a trail of terror. Imagine walking past one abandoned house after another, seeing drug users on the porch, a man and a woman ducking into the back, or worse, a figure staring out at you as you pass.
Last year, Kenyetta says, a teenage girl was sexually assaulted in one of the abandoned structures not far from Cody. It rattled the neighborhood -- even one as used to crime as this one. As the executive director of the
The problem is how do you spot danger when it has so many places to hide?
This is where you come in. Every abandoned house you help board up is one less place for drug dealers to gather, or prostitutes to conduct business, or those wishing to do harm to children to seek a cover of darkness.
No, this is not the long-range answer to dangerous streets. It is simply the answer for right now. First, make the streets safe, then make them sound. It may not be as pretty as gentrifying an area with pretty new homes and small businesses, but if we don't ensure our kids can at least walk to school without fear of attack, very soon, there won't be anybody left to save those neighborhoods for.
"We are so grateful," says Kenyetta, whose group, and several others, will work right beside us.
The idea for 100 Houses was born a few months ago. I had read about a man boarding up dozens of houses in his
The August 100 Houses event proved we could. It was an amazing day, with about 450 people spreading around the neighborhood, sometimes to the applause of amazed citizens, cutting plywood, nailing it in place, cleaning the lots, locking down back doors.
And throughout the day, you couldn't tell city from suburbs. Just a beautiful, massive volunteer effort. We want to squeeze one more in before the winter makes it impossible. We will gather at Cody at
If you can barely swing a hammer, sign up anyhow. If you can lead a team in boarding, sign up as a crew leader. If you have equipment to clear the overgrowth, man can we use you! Call 866-992-GIVE or sign up at drmm.org.
It's a war, but with a guaranteed winning feeling. That's the kind you can't wait to fight. See you on the 27th.
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