Kaleb Crawford, Linna Griffin, Ruby He
In the past few weeks, we began research into the history and current state of Hazelwood and got to meet some of the community members. Under our assigned topic “Strong Men: A Galvanizing Force Within the Community”, we focused on understanding the overall community of Hazelwood, the characteristics community members value in each other and leaders, and who some of these male role models are.
Last Wednesday, we had some in-depth conversations with two Hazelwood women, Terri and Pamela. From these interviews, we saw some recurring themes about and within the community.
Some things both women said:
- Hazelwood used to be a safe neighborhood where everyone looked out for each other
- Kids used to play outside all the time (during these women’s childhoods)
- Hazelwood YMCA was a good community center
- Parents try to keep their kids off the streets by occupying them with afterschool activities (Krunk, Crossover, Fusion, etc.)
- Important to keep kids out of trouble
Highlights from individuals:
- Works for Joy, one of the administrators at the Center of Life (COL)
- Works for food service at Fusion, after school tutoring and academic support program
- Describes Fusion as providing “discipline… keeps kids from acting out”
- Her children were involved in Krunk and CoL photography
- There used to be more businesses in the community (Giant Eagle, movie theaters, meat shops, etc)
- Describes the role of CoL’s Childcare program as “just to talk. It’s not up to us to make them better”
- Anecdotally, she had a lifelong friendship with her doctor that saw her through her cancer treatment, both were a part of the Hazelwood community.
- Core values of Hazelwood include respect (self and others) and family (connectedness)
- “Hazelwood used to be a community (defined by togetherness), now it’s just a neighborhood.”
- Need for more family oriented programs
- Get back to being in unity
- Need for more family oriented programs
- Parents need to be involved in kids lives and know what’s going on
- Bring back to knowing each other and being accountable for each other
On the topic of strong men within the community, our interviewees mentioned a few important community members:
Pastor Tim ( “PT” )—
- The first name out of everyone’s mouth, to the point where we had to ask “other than pastor Tim…”
- Pastor Tim is to some extent a cultural successor of the YMCA
- He is willing to approach kids and talk about their futures… addressing them directly in a way that others won’t
- He’s willing to go out of his way (physically and emotionally) to help those around him
- (From Terri) Son learned values from Pastor Tim from hearing him speak, would come home and preach to his teddy bears.
- One of the men involved with running the YMCA… The Holbrook family was known within the community for organizing the Y and bringing the community together.
- Also involved with YMCA, ran programs to teach kids sports
- “Brought the kids places and gave them things to do”
- Athletic coordinator at Crossover, after school sports/tutoring program
- Works with Minedeo ( the nearby elementary school )
Additionally, it’s worth noting that both of our interviewees had trouble coming up with names, and the people who did mention were people they looked up to during their childhood.
Going forward, what do we know?
Why does there need to be strong men within the community?
- Organize events and activities for kids and rest of community
- Provide a listening ear and guidance for children with only one parent
- Act as role models and resources for youth and community members to rely on
By providing these resources and making themselves available to the community (especially the youth), they act as a community center point.
Once established as a community leader, these men can connect community members with each other and create a network of support.
In the past, men who were part of the community and provided services to one another, didn’t see themselves as galvanizing, life-changing individuals. Rather, they saw it as giving back to the community that they themselves benefited from as well. For instance, Pamela’s Husband taught local children at the pool how to swim for free on the basis that these were the children of his friends and neighbors.
Our next steps are to interview Maurice Cole, a part of the Crossover program, and find more information about Donnie Stevens.