Reserve parties with a purpose

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Mary Hampton and her family of residents along East 24th Street in Reserve have banded together to take back their street from the unlawful hooligans in the locale she has called home for the past 40 years.

“Crime in the neighborhood has gotten so high,” said Hampton. “We decided it is time for someone to take a stand.”

Hampton, along with a large group of family and friends, used Tuesday’s Night Out Against Crime event as her chance to take that stand. With the help of her daughter Tonia Schnyder, Hampton organized a street wide party at her home in hopes of stirring up some community spirit among residents.

“We’re ready to get something done,” said Schnyder. “Residents are so afraid, some are even to scared to call the police. I think if we have police more visible in the neighborhood, I think it would help a lot.”

Hampton explained the majority of the crime is being perpetrated by teenaged youths with no real guidance. She said she would really like to see every family living on her block begin to take some responsibility in their household

“If everyone could just control what goes on, it may be a better neighborhood,” said Hampton. “The police are doing the best they can, but they can only do so much. You don’t want to see your neighbor’s kids go to jail, but something has to be done.”

Schnyder said she normally puts on a Night Out party in the Cambridge area with the Sisters of Unity, but since her group decided to pass on this years festivities, she planned an event for her mother’s street. Tuesday’s get-together, which was a first for Hampton’s neighborhood, was well received by the other residents.

“I’m so glad we have decided to step out and do this tonight,” said resident Gail King. “My little grand baby can’t even play in the yard. It’s just too scary.”

Tellisha Steer, another resident from the block, said parties like this can really make a difference if everyone on the street participates. She said the community should work harder to reach out to younger people.

The party had guest speakers and appearances by firefighters from the Reserve Volunteer Fire Department and deputies from the St. John Sheriff’s Office.

“Being in this line of work, we don’t get too many pats on the back,” said Deputy Ronnie Lightell. “This is a good night to see that mutual respect between police and residents.”

In attendance were about 30 neighbors, who enjoyed music from DJ Red Alert and a jambalaya and white beans dinner cooked up by Hampton.