More than 70 people braved the cold rain this morning to prove to help clean up their neighborhood.
Zion West Neighborhood Association took on their first cleanup project in the Ellis Heights neighborhood this morning at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, October 30, Zion West prepared the event by having the city block off the street, cut some branches off the trees and provide a dumpster for the trash. The overall goal of the event was to reclaim Peach Court.
Rev. Marvin Hightower, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, says, "In the Peach Court area we have had a lot of crime and when those who commit crimes want to hide they have a lot of area to hide in because of the weeded areas. So we wanted to start there to make a noticeable difference."
Peach Court is right outside Fairgrounds Valley Public Housing Complex and is commonly mistaken for an alley. The neighborhood association believes it's becoming a hot spot for criminal activity. So volunteers are cleaning it up.
Robert Esmond, West Gateway Coalition President, added, "As we remove brush, as we get neighbors connected with each other and as old houses are being torn down it is opening up lines of sight so you can see what is going on in your neighborhood. Then there is less opportunity for criminal activity to flourish in these areas."
The Zion West Neighborhood Association is a newly formed group. It's working with the community to address concerns in the Ellis Heights neighborhood.
This weekend's project is the first major project West Zion has done. It aims to bridge the gap between Fairgrounds and the rest of the neighborhood.
Rev. Hightower said, "Once we known each other then we can have a concern about each other and watch out for each other."
Matthew Simpson, United Way Community Impact Manager, stated, "What we saw is that people want to do something. People are interested in engaging but sometimes they just don't know what to do and Zion West kind of lifted the torch up and people came and connected."
Already showing collaboration with the City of Rockford, Zion West has shown it can work together to put on an event like this. Next weekend is step two in this cleanup process. Zion West wants as many helping hands as possible.
Rev. Hightower adds, "We are not turning down any help and we would be glad to have you."
If you are interested in volunteering for the Zion West Neighborhood Association Cleanup Project you can click here for contact information