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.

10 Thoughts to “National 2009 Neighborhood Program of the Year–Weems!”

  1. Thanks, M-H, but yes, I have some corrections. It is confusing. The City of Manassas has won THREE national awards for its neighborhood initiatives.

    Weems Neighborhood Watch did win a national award but it was SECOND PLACE, and it was “2009 Neighborhood of the Year” for our Landgreen Street Cleanup during Week of Hope in June 2008.

    In addition, the City of Manassas Neighborhood Services won SECOND PLACE “2009 Neighborhood PROGRAM of the Year” for the whole Week of Hope program.

    Both awards were presented in Spokane, Washington on May 22-23 at the National Conference on Neighborhood Concerns.

    The third national award is “Outstanding Achievement in Local Government Innovation,” an award that was presented to Neighborhood Services Manager Kisha Wilson-Sogunro on May 14 during the 2009 Transforming Local Government Conference held in Corpus Christi, Texas. The competition is sponsored by Alliance for Innovation, a networking association for cities and counties committed to innovation and transforming local governments. The City of Manassas is an Alliance member.

    The correct information was sent to all the local media and posted on the City of Manassas Web site. The Washington Post used the information from the release and got it correct. The DC Examiner and the News & Messenger do have errors.

    But again, thank you! It was a worthy project, we had great partners — the City, churches, businesses.

    The big thing is, Week of Hope kicks off again TODAY — the first wave of volunteers are here! The City is looking for local volunteers to team up with them on projects all over the City. Two projects, one in West Gate and one in Dale City are planned because of participants in the Neighborhood Improvement Circles. Call the City’s Neighborhood Services at 703-257-9240 if you can help or want to donate anything – trash bags, work gloves, etc.

  2. Moon-howler

    Thanks for setting the record straight Cindy. Congratulations to all who are making a difference.

  3. Ivan

    Way to go Cindy!! You nare an inspiration to everyone out there(or at least most everyone). When is the movie coming out?

  4. I also made a mistake in my post – the number for City Neighborhood Services is 703-257-8240.

    Just met the first wave of volunteers this morning at City Hall. They are caravaning over to George Mason University’s Prince William Campus on their first outdoor project. Anyone who wants to help — head on over and look for crews with orange vests and lend a hand.

  5. hello

    Great story! It’s nice to see people doing something positive in their communities.

  6. ShellyB

    Cindy and company, thank you for bringing some good news and some good on’s for Manassas and PWC. We deserve some good press for a change.

  7. Chris

    Way to go Cindy! Ivan’s right you are an inspiration. You’ve certainly inspired me. I’m excited for the Week of Hope voluteers being in WestGate next week.

    Anyone interested in volunteering or have kids that need to get community service hours for scouts, school, etc., please, shoot me an email at westgateweekofhope@yahoo.com

  8. Moon-howler

    Thanks Chris. Are you all targeting Westgate only? What kinds of work will the volunteers be willing to do?

  9. Chris

    Yes, Moon WestGate of Lomond only. The volunteers will be distributing information from Neighborhood Services, cleaning up around WestGate Elem., yard work, trash removal, etc.

    If anyone knows of an elderly or ill person that could use some help, please, let us know.

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