FLINT, Michigan —
Sarvis Park was abuzz with life for its Sarvis Park Clean-Up Day, held on April 23. In partnership with Keep Genesee County Beautiful
, the Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association
(SPNA) had its annual cleanup day on a gorgeous sunny Saturday that provided music and food for residents.
From 10 AM to 1 PM, the park’s 11.6-acre land saw residents rake up and bag leaves, mow the lawn, edge the grass, and repaint fence posts. It’s something that the community has always done and loves to see happen, says long-time Sarvis Park resident Tonedia Threlkeld.
“We’ve always had volunteers in the park. At one time, the park and recreation supervisor stayed on the street so we’ve always been able to have connections to the right people,” Threlkeld says while managing the check-in table. “Since Dr. Ladel Lewis came back and started promoting cleanup and community support, we can see more an outcome than before.”
“We adopted Sarvis Park, and everybody knows who we are." -- First Lieutenant Yvonne Brantley of the Michigan State Police
However, the day isn’t just about cleaning up the park; it’s about bringing together the community that makes up the Sarvis Park area that's housed between Stewart Ave., Clio Rd., Fleming Rd., and Pasadena Ave. Prominent members included 2nd Ward Councilwoman and SBNA founder Ladel Lewis
, First Lieutenant Yvonne Brantley of the Michigan State Police, and the affectionately named “Park Mother.”
Other community leaders and members were present to assist with cleaning up, feeding the numerous kids running, jumping, playing, and enjoying a basketball game with teenagers.
Kevin Graydon, a recruiter from the Michigan Army National Guard, having lived around Sarvis Park, was on hand edging sidewalks and challenging teens to help clean up if he won a basketball game against them.
“I’m out here connecting and helping keep this area clean. The Guard is all about community service and serving where you live,” Graydon says between shovel stomps. “[Sarvis Park] is a beautiful area. What [Ladel] is doing here is a huge testament to what she wants the entire city to strive to be.”
“I’m out here connecting and helping keep this area clean. The Guard is all about community service and serving where you live." - Kevin Graydon
A long-time friend of Lewis, Dachelle McDonald, was on-site directing young elementary students who wanted to help clean up and repaint some of the faded fences. Although not a resident of the Sarvis Park area, she’s committed to “beautifying Flint and building awareness” around health, food, and other community-related issues.
“We’re trying to curb and eliminate that tolerance for violence so people can love where they live and live where they love,” McDonald says. “There’s a lot of neighborhood kids that play in this park so it’s teaching them how to take pride in where they live.”
Children enjoying sunshine and friends while at Sarvis Park
And taking pride is something First Lieutenant Yvonne Brantley of the Michigan State Police feels having established relationships with the Sarvis Park area, and it shows. Residents and children greet the First Lt. with open arms and laughter. In full uniform, she answers questions about whether she’s carrying a real gun or pepper spray, dances to the music, and enjoys one of her favorite hobbies — riding the lawnmower.
“We’ve been involved with Sarvis Park for three years now. When I became Post Commander, we reached out to the neighborhood associations to see what we could do,” boasts the First Lt. “We adopted Sarvis Park, and everybody knows who we are. We keep this relationship for the cleanup day and all year round.”
After a tiring few hours of cleaning and several media and community interviews, residents were treated to handmade tacos courtesy of Dr. Lewis. Events and experiences like this have kept Threlkeld in the Sarvis Park area for 49 years she says, committed to continuing to make the area “bigger and better” than before.