When it comes to fighting crime, spending more money and increasing the police presence might not always be the best tactic. Instilling a sense of community can go a long way.
It’s a concept that’s been around since the Old Testament: Love thy neighbor. When it happens, entire neighborhoods can change for the better.
There is a revival going on in the heart of Jackson’s Fourth Ward. Fittingly enough, much of the credit goes to the faithful of Rosemont Missionary Baptist Church.
Pastor Jimmie Lee Edwards remembers, “The first time we cleaned up in the community, we picked up 11 tons of debris.”
In the years since the church got to know its neighbors, organizations have helped plant communty gardens and the city has repaved at least one road.
Pastor Edwards explains, “We have developed a relationship. They trust us.”
That’s the kind of thing that leads to a reduction in crime.
Ward for Councilman Dekeither Stamps believes, This neighborhood proves that when people start caring about each other, start respecting each other, they can resolve their differences differently when they care.”
Most people still rent here, and a recent survey found that 60% of them never finished high school, but that should change too, as neighbors rally behind Lake Elementary.
Third Grade Teacher Amanda Terrell says, “We have book buddies. We have girl scouts. We have people who come in to work with the children for their reading and reading deficits. Our administration is open to others coming in to help the school and help the students students achieve their goals.”
It’s working. In less than 2 years Lake Elementary has gone from an “F” to an “A” rating.
Councilman Stamps beams, “No new money. No new anything, just a new spirit and doing what God put us here to do. That’s working together between the politician, the pastor and the principal.”
Now, it’s all about keeping that synergy.
Amanda Terrell adds, “Everybody takes a stake in the success of the school.”
Pastor Edwards chips in, “We’re just excited about the changes we see in the community. Since we started cleaning up in the community, people in the community are now cleaning it up themselves.
Dekiether says, “Even though we need more resources, and we do, the main thing here is people have to love.”
The neighborhood shows it.
Church leaders are working to appoint street captains who will keep an eye out for any potential trouble. Other goals include repaving Thomas Catchings Drive, a walking trail and maybe even sidewalks.
Rosemont M.B. church is also working through through a community development grant to help people in the neighborhood own their homes.