By Mary L. Morris Special to Frost Illustrated
Since its hard to locate African American males who reside within our Oxford Association boundaries to participate in the Great American Clean-up day, May 17, we had two groups who stepped up to the plate to shine with young people. The two groups were: Omotayo Rite of Passage Dance Troupe with Diane Rogers and the Michael Hunter Group.They did a fantastic job. The youths learned a lot about the neighborhood and the value of giving back. They learned about cleaning up, picking up the paper and bottles that are thrown down by adults in cars and others residing within homes and how unsightly it can become. They went into alleys and saw how trash—which includes limbs, paper, tires, rugs,etc.—is left out, which causes rats and rodents to linger and get into homes. They looked at vacant homes with high weeds. Yes, we have the large brown bins that the City of Fort Wayne has provided, which can be used to remove a lot of the items that are located in alleys but the adults and families seem to need education on what can be placed in them. We also have the recycle bins that can hold paper, bottles, etc. So my issue is, why is it that we do not have clean neighborhoods in Oxford and southeast Fort Wayne? Who is responsible for the neighborhhood? Do we always need Code Enforcement to tell us what to do? We realize large items may need to be hauled away but there is no excuse for what we have seen in our alleys. We have organizations and groups within our City that may help those with health issues or our seniors. We should not need others to clean up after us. The Great American Clean-up should be about a holistic approach with parents and children involved in neighborhoods to teach them about cleanliness. Maybe this would reduce the cups, paper and broken bottles that we see at our street corners, railroad underpasses and round-a-bouts. Also, we need to hold our businesses, not only in the Oxford area accountable but in southeast Fort Wayne, to higher standards, too. Paper and cups should not be strewn all across their lots and down the street. businesses should take just as much pride and responsibility as the residents. We are all in this together. We must teach our residents and children to be better stewards over where they reside. Residents should not have to move north or west to get away from unsightly items that lay month after month on properties. Landlords have an equal responsibility too to clean up their properties and monitor their tenants. Let us be honest., this drains down our property values. We want good businesses to locate within our neirborhoods and Southeast Fort Wayne. I hope this article will inspire residents to get involved with their neighborhood association, along with their children and try to make a difference on their block. What this does is help to inspire the next generation and teach them about cleaniliness.It has to start in the home, in their yard and go into the neighborhood. Last, let me say, we are proud of all the groups that worked in the Oxford Association area during the Great American Clean-up Day, which included our GAC Coordinator Leon Williams and his group, the Wayne Township Trustee Group with Shirley Stevenson and the Vincent House Group. Also, we thank some of the residents who got out and cleaned up their yards, too. We give a big “Thank You” to everyone who worked with us. Next year, we want the residents, businesses, non-profits and churches to take a more active roles in our area. After all, it is their neighborhood, too. Next Topic: The Role of Neighborhood Associations within our city and why residents and businesses need to be involved. Mary L. Morris, is president of Oxford Community Association Inc.