Building On Hope Community Day

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

September 24, 2005

Residents of one Charlottesville neighborhood are taking new measures to keep their kids and their streets safe.

There was plenty of food, candy, music and drinks, but Saturday's event wasn't just about the fun and games, it was also about building bridges and fostering relationships within the community.

"We want the parents to feel comfortable bringing their kids outside to play," said Reverend Joe Ellison of Essex Village Ministries.

Rev. Ellison came from Richmond to speak about his city's anti-gang initiative and to offer preventative measures for residents living on Prospect Avenue.

"This is the church going outside the walls and coming out in to the community to take the community back for the children," he explained.

Prospect Avenue has been known for crime in the past, but Saturday groups from the community were focusing more on the future.

"Our mission is to bring the glory of God in to this neighborhood, not saying it's not here, but just to execute the principles of building hope," said Eddie Howard with Abundant Life Ministries.

Howard, an "Abundant Life Ministries" employee and resident of Prospect Avenue said he's noticed some positive changes in his community.

He believes those changes will keep coming as long as residents continue to be active.

"We have to play our part. We can't depend on the police to do everything for us, we can't depend on the city to do everything for us, and this is an opportunity for us to step up to the plate and say 'hey, you know what, we need to take ownership of our community'," Howard said.

With that ownership comes a great deal of pride.

"It makes me feel great, because I don't want to just sit around and just let everybody do it for me, but I want to make that change not only in the community, but I want to make it within me," said 14-year resident James Morton. "When I do that, then the community can see it."

Residents say they definitely think the event was a step in the right direction.

The community day was sponsored in part by Abundant Life Ministries, Blueridge Commons and the Charlottesville Police Department.

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