Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We made the newspaper!!

National Night Out brings in the crowds
The Herald-Sun | Bernard Thomas
Sister s Seanae (L) and Jasmine Thomas (R) with Jadiah Ballentine (center) are marching down Shrewsbury Street ,Tuesday August 07, 2012, during the National Night Out, in the Hope Valley North Neighborhood.
The Herald-Sun | Bernard Thomas

Sister's Seanae (L) and Jasmine Thomas (R) with Jadiah Ballentine (center) are marching down Shrewsbury Street ,Tuesday August 07, 2012, during the National Night Out, in the Hope Valley North Neighborhood.
By KEITH UPCHURCH; 919-419-6612

DURHAM – Two-year-old Danny Rollman swung his head around fast when a shiny, red Durham fire truck pulled up in his neighborhood Tuesday evening.

“Truck!” he said, with dilated pupils and an open mouth.

The fire truck signaled the start of a parade for the Hope Valley North neighborhood as part of its celebration of National Night Out, a crime prevention event held in neighborhoods across the nation.

Danny’s mother, Jennifer Rollman, has lived in the southwestern Durham neighborhood about three years and thinks the event is a good way to get to know other residents.

“There have been a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood, and I think it’s good to have everybody looking out for each other,” she said.

Danny traveled the parade route along Shrewsbury Street in his highly decorated, all-terrain red wagon.

Most paraders either walked or rode their bicycles or tricycles. But 13-year-old Matthew Dowdell’s vehicle of choice was his skateboard, which he’s ridden for years except for the time he broke his arm performing a trick. That put him out of commission for a while.

Matthew, a rising ninth-grader at Jordan High School, said his house was robbed a few years ago while his family was out of town. He likes the idea of National Night Out as a way to reduce the chance of becoming a victim of crime.

Martha Wilaby, president of the Hope Valley North Neighborhood Association, said it’s the first year the area has participated in the National Night Out.

“We’re trying to encourage neighbors to get out and know each other,” she said.

The neighborhood has residents who have lived in their homes for 20 or 30 years but never got to know their neighbors, according to Debbie Lidowski, vice president of the association.

“We don’t need to know each other’s business, but we need to look out for each other,” she said.

Lidowski said many retirees live in Hope Valley North, and some are frightened to venture out of their homes.

“Many older people won’t even answer their door, even if they know it’s you,” she said. “They’re too scared.”

At Long Meadow Park in East Durham, pastor Terry Shuff was preparing hot dogs, polish sausages and chili dogs for residents in the low-income, high-crime area of the city.

It’s Shuff’s third year organizing National Night Out for the area.

“I’m on these streets just about every day, and we’ve got a lot of problems,” said Shuff, who leads Bull City Outreach Ministries. “We just want to see people’s lives change and help them with their physical and spiritual needs.”

Gwen Chavis, who lives on nearby Driver Street, had tears in her eyes as she remembered the recent beating of a man as he walked through Long Meadow Park.

The man, who has kidney disease and gets dialysis treatment, was a good friend of hers.

“He’s a good person and never bothered nobody,” she said. “It’s just sad to hear about guys beating him up like that. He didn’t deserve that.”

She said that earlier this year, her nephew was robbed and shot on Holloway Street and left for dead. But he recovered after being treated at the hospital.

“There’s just so much crime – that’s why most of the time I just go to the store and come back home,” she said.

Lorie Castillo, who lives near Long Meadow Park, said she’s seen some improvement in the neighborhood in the past year.

“The house where I stay has bullets in it, where children live,” she said. “And a lot more people in the community are coming out and showing themselves. So the neighborhood is starting to get a little better as long as all the parents stick with it, and not let their children grow up the wrong way.

“But I think National Night Out is great.”

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