Thursday, January 17, 2013
A new neighborhood association plans to celebrate Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday by celebrating his spirit every day of the year.
That’s because positive actions were and continue to be the driving force of the man’s spirit, says Palmetto/Robynwyn Civic Association President Louis Smith.
“A lot of people come out and celebrate the holiday, then just go home,” Smith said. “We’re planning some serious actions and initiatives.”
The association has planned and is in the process of implementing several major community outreach programs, Smith said.
The association came about in direct reaction to the murder of 35-year-old John Hancock in his own driveway in the Robynwyn neighborhood back in October of 2012, Smith said. Thus, one of the prime directives of the new organization is to get active -- and very serious – about reducing violent crime in this area. To that end, the association is working with the Summerville Police Department to establish a gun buy-back program. People will be encouraged to bring guns to the Summerville Police Department; the association will give them either $200 gift cards or cash for each gun, Smith said.
“We believe the first step in reducing gun violence is to reduce the number of guns out there,” Smith said.
In addition, the association is working on setting up tutoring and mentoring programs for youth as well as a chaplain program for victims of violent crime, Smith said. Rev. Dr. Raeford Brown will head up this program, Smith said.
Finally, the association understands that the community must be actively involved in crime prevention to make the crime rate go down. One way to do that is to actively advocate for curfews in some of the areas that are experiencing serious crime problems, Smith said.
“We understand that’s a controversial subject, but we believe it is a necessary step that needs to be taken,” Smith said.
Another important aspect of citizen involvement is keeping citizens informed, Smith said. To that end, the association will be sending out volunteers door to door to sign people up for the free text message service NIXLE, which instantly communicates real time updates from the police department via text message. It also provides a way for the community to inform the police of any criminal or suspicious activity, he said.
“We’ll be showing up at front doors, with computers in hand, to help people sign up,” Smith said.
Another issue the association is interested in exploring is getting public transportation services out to some of these neighborhoods, Smith said.
“There is no bus stop in Robinwyn or Palmetto Park, yet these are the very people who need transportation solutions so that they can get to jobs,” Smith noted. “We are interested in working to get a route established here.”
Some of these initiatives are underway, but the association plans to ramp up efforts starting in February, Smith said.