FLINT, Michigan — It started with one bike being brought to Honny Williams’ front yard, and soon there would be eight children’s bicycles waiting for repairs by the neighborhood’s beloved ‘Sarvis Park Mom.’
“I bought a couple of inner tubes, and I fixed all of them,” said Williams with a smile on her face. “I only ran across one that I couldn’t fix.”
Williams, a Flint native, moved to the 2nd ward in 2018 and has since filled the neighborhood streets with her love for children, her community involvement, and her commitment to make a positive impact for the future of Sarvis Park.
On any day of the week, Williams can be found in Sarvis Park, watching, listening, and talking to the children who come to play. She isn’t afraid to ask the kids what they’re doing, what they need help with, and find ways to give them a piece of encouragement throughout the day.
“I like to be involved in positive things, you know, something that can inspire the next person,” said Williams.
Honny Williams sits on a park bench while talking to neighborhood kids (pictured from left to right; Terynn Henry, Sakara Johnsonn, Nene, Miesia Leroy, Nikiyah Johnson) in Sarvis Park, Flint on July 26, 2022. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
Over the years, Williams has witnessed a rise in systemic issues that have created more crime and a lack of public transportation preventing the development and growth of the 2nd ward. Determined to change the trajectory, she joined the Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association.
“Participate, just lend an hour,” said Williams. “If everybody donated an hour of their time per person in each ward, something’s gonna get done. I can’t do a whole lot, but I don’t mind jumpin' in where I can.”
Not only does Williams believe participation is the key to having a neighborhood that succeeds, she opened the doors of her business, Honny’s Place, two years ago. The business is located on Clio Road where she offers pedicures and notary services by appointment.
A small business owner and mother of five, Williams leads her community with a strong maternal understanding of the world around her.
Three years ago, her son was killed in a fatal car accident.
“You get through it. Every day is a challenge,” said Williams. “Some days are better than others. Some days I miss him more than I did the day before. Then today, maybe he's more on my mind than he was.”
It was giving her son his first pedicure that led to her pursuit in becoming a licensed nail technician, and it was words said to her by her son that keep her invested in the world around her.
“Pay attention mom, that’s what my son used to always tell me,” she said.
And that is exactly what Williams does. She watches, pays attention and lets the children know in her community she truly cares. “I remind them, we don’t have bad days, we have bad moments. It’ll get better, give it an hour. Bet you things turn around, just breathe. I have my moments too.”
Honny Williams sits on a park bench while talking to neighborhood kids (pictured from left to right; Terynn Henry, Sakara Johnsonn, Nene, Miesia Leroy, Nikiyah Johnson) in Sarvis Park, Flint, on July 26, 2022. (Jenifer Veloso | Flintside.com)
Williams believes in the power of participation, paying attention and being in the presence of others who care. One of her personal favorite highlights of participation has been watching police officers stop at the basketball court and play ball with the kids in the neighborhood.
“It's safer because everybody is participating. The more people that’s keeping an eye on things, the less crime,” she said.
The future for Sarvis Park is bright not only in the eyes of its leaders but in Williams’ heart. She dreams of city ward soccer teams with different age groups competing against each other in the summertime. She adores watching the growth of the community garden
. And on Saturday mornings, she loves to sit on the bright red park bench, watch yoga in the park, and take in the beautiful moments of her favorite park.
“Whether you live in this ward or not, just come and hang out with us,” Williams said. “Start on Saturdays. Come do some yoga here. Everybody’s welcome.”
Read more from our On The Ground Series on Sarvis Park:
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