Friday, October 16, 2009

Neighborhood Action Partners: Profiling the City's Unsung Heroes

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that change starts at the grassroots level. Youngstown’s ongoing revitalization can be attributed not only to a few well-known faces, but also to the many unsung heroes who are involved in their own communities. These people may not get quoted in the newspaper. They may not appear in local documentaries. But all the same, these individuals are the ones who are affecting change on their streets and blocks. In an effort to recognize some of these people, The CDA has decided to do a blog series called Neighborhood Action Partners. Feel free to suggest people to feature in the series.

Sybil West: President of the Bennington Block Watch on the East Side

Sybil West used to hear gunshots at night. Now she can hear crickets chirp.

“This is a beautiful side of town, a lot of green spaces, a lot of potential,” West says.

West says crime on the East Side was bad in the 70s, 80s, and 90s – the block watch was started by a neighbor who had her car stolen. But now the neighborhood has really changed. West, 63, has been president of the Bennington Block Watch for the last three years. The block watch offers a social outlet for its members, since many are senior citizens. But the group has also been instrumental in helping to make the community a safe and calm one.

West and other members participate in a crime watch, and work to reduce blight and deterioration by utilizing a grass cutting program. The block watch has even joined forces with the MVOC.

West’s positive attitude and leadership have helped keep her community secure. Her group’s work can be a prime example of how city safety begins with neighborhoods.