Members of the Weems Neighborhood Watch accept “National 2009 Neighborhood Program of the Year” award at a recent Manassas City Council meeting. What a great job this group has done towards neighborhood improvement.
The entire story is posted from the News and Messenger. Congratulations to all involved!
By Keith Walker
Published: June 14, 2009
Volunteers filled up four city trucks with old mattresses, yard waste, gasoline, used motor oil and old paint from Landgreen Street in the Weems neighborhood in Manassas.
They mowed 12 yards, cleaned the property around six vacant homes, spread mulch around trees at Byrd Park in Manassas, and reinstalled a mail box at a “for sale” property during the “Weems Neighborhood Watch Week of Hope.”
For all of that, members of the Weems Neighborhood Watch won national awards from Neighborhoods USA as the “National 2009 Neighborhood Program of the Year” and “National 2009 Neighborhood of the Year.”
The Manassas City Council recently presented the awards, that came with $300, to members of the neighborhood watch.
Members of the watch organized the cleanup on Landgreen Street in June 2008 because Khawaja Ahmed, a local cab driver, was murdered there in February 2008.
Watch member Cindy Brookshire said the goals of the project were to show the watch’s presence as a crime deterrent, abate the blight that had demoralized the neighborhood and bring neighbors together to solve the problems and build community.
People from the Manassas Cab Company that employed Ahmed also came to help with the community cleanup. Also helping were students from Osbourn High School, as well as volunteers from churches in Warrenton, McLean Maryland and Tennessee.
Today the neighborhood remains cleaner than it was in 2008. The neighborhood watch is still active and has even grown, Brookshire said.
“It was less than 50 before we did the project, and now we’re up to 101 members,” Brookshire said of the group.
Although Ahmed’s murderer has not been found, Brookshire said the people from the cab company gained from the experience.
“It was like a healing thing for them to go back to the scene where their coworker had died and actually do something to help,” Brookshire said.
The watch hasn’t done anything yet this year, but they’re working on it, Brookshire said.
“We’re going to think up something,” Brookshire said.
The Weems Neighborhood Watch competed for the awards against 12 neighborhoods across the country.
Brookshire said the project brought people “out of their houses” and allowed people to “do something good.”
She would recommend similar projects for all neighborhoods.
“I just encourage people to get out and take pride in their community,” Brookshire said.
Kisha Wilson-Sogunro, the Manassas Neighborhood Services Coordinator, helped with some of the details of the project that included persuading local businesses to donate food and procuring orange work vests, wheelbarrows and lawn mowers from the city.
Sogunro said the Week of Hope, which gathers volunteers from across the country and puts them to work on such projects, “gives instead of takes.”
“The program models neighbors helping neighbors with the support of businesses, faith organizations and community groups,” Sogunro said.