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Meadow Park initiative works to improve community

September 24, 2019 06:39 PM

A shooting that left a man paralyzed in the Meadow Park area has brought a sense of urgency to people who are working to improve the community.

“A tragic event like that and others that happened in Meadow Park, that pulls media attention and people say oh my god it’s awful, it helps bring some focus,” said April Sutor, director of innovation and collaboration for Family Service Rochester.

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The Meadow Park Initiative, almost a year old, is one of her organization’s programs, and it all started with a survey.

“Our staff went door-to-door to a couple hundred residents of Meadow Park, and asking them what their hopes and dreams are for their family, their neighborhood, and how they want to be a part of making that happen,” Sutor said.

Better living conditions, less trash, more green space and recreational activities for kids are just some of the responses they got from residents.

With the initiative’s help, the community is addressing the concerns one-by-one, with kids’ activities a current priority.

“They have a new soccer program. I’ve been playing soccer and teaching little children how to play, kick balls,” said Giovani Hernandez, who lives in the Meadow Park neighborhood.

The teams formed this summer, with residents taking charge, signing up their kids and volunteering to coach.

Coach Abdikarim Hassen said the team is about more than exercise, it’s about bringing a multicultural neighborhood together.

“Before, there was no talking together, but now they start to come outside and everyone takes his chair and sits together, and everybody discusses about how we can build this Meadow Park community,” Hassen said.

“I’m really happy when people come together helping out. It really just warms up my heart,” Hernandez said.

The next step for the initiative is to address other goals like housing and healthy living, neither of which have a quick fix.

“We expect that for at least a decade, we are going to be working on things in Meadow Park and engaging the neighborhood. The neighborhood may get so organized they say we can do this without you, and we can try this in another neighborhood,” Sutor said.

Credits

Talia Milavetz

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