Strong partnerships drive Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association cleanup

FLINT, Michigan -- Dozens of resident volunteers and community and business partners came together for a community cleanup at Sarvis Park on Flint’s northside on April 24.

Projects included cleaning up branches, downed trees, and leaves in the park, litter and brush behind a BP station on Clio Road, and individual residents taking on projects in their own yards in the neighborhood.

“The goal is just to jumpstart everyone on their spring cleaning,” said Ladel Lewis of the Sarvis Park Neighborhood Association. “We encouraged neighbors to just use the time to come outside and pick up your own area, then just meet us at the park for lunch.”

Lewis and the Neighborhood Association pulled together many different partners to support the event. Volunteers from the Michigan State Police Department, Genesee County Sheriff Department, and Flint Police Department all helped with projects -- “The commander of the State Police, she’s out driving the tractor,” Lewis noted.

Businesses in the area also participated. Little Caesar’s and Big John Steak and Onion provided food for the volunteers, and AutoZone was on-site doing giveaways and also recruiting job applicants to fill positions in the nearby store.

Flint Public Art Project also partnered with the neighborhood association to help turn wood fence posts into colorful crayons in the park.

“Jermaine Turner (from the neighborhood association) had the idea for the crayons, so we reached out to Joe Schipani with Flint Public Art Project, and they’re out there with a team of volunteers making it happen,” Lewis said.

The city of Flint’s Blight Team was also on-site helping with cleanup projects and supporting volunteers.

The neighborhood association is also working directly with Sarvis Park residents to add more light to the neighborhood. The association received a grant from Genesee County Habitat for Humanity and is partnering with the Michigan State Police ‘Light it Up’ program. The program is meant to add light to areas as a crime prevention tool. Lewis said they identified dark spaces in the area and approached residents to see if they’d like a free solar light installed. Over the next week, they’re installing 35 lights throughout the neighborhood.

The partnerships between government and law enforcement entities, organizations, residents, and business are by design. Lewis said that creating lasting change in neighborhoods requires many people to participate and work together. 

“The police may not live here, but they serve here, business owners may not live here, but they want their business to be successful here,” Lewis said. “That’s how we approach things, that you are a part of the solution. The revitalization of Flint is going to happen one neighborhood at a time. You can’t depend exclusively on the government, you have to be a part of the change you want to see.”
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