Historic district residents clean their streets

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2004

Several residents of Ward 3 gathered in the parking lot of the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum at 9 a.m. on Saturday. They chatted, laughed and got to know one another as the group grew with each new arrival. Belinda Roper, founder of the Concern, Awareness and Responsibility for Everyone Committee, handed out trash bags and divided those present into groups to scour the streets and pick up trash.

Before 9:15 a.m. rolled around, they were off.

“We want to show our neighbors that we’re out here to help,” Roper said. “It was just needed.”

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The CARE Committee picked up trash in the Riverview Historic District as a means to clean the community and get residents to know one another, according to Dick Bean, one district resident. Bean said activities such as Saturday’s could produce more than just clean streets. If residents know who their neighbors are, they’ll know a stranger when they see one, Bean said.

Michael Hayes, CARE Committee member, said the clean-up event not only kept Selma’s streets looking good, but also allowed residents to meet and become visible in the community. “It kind of gels our neighborhood a little bit,” Hayes said. “Sometimes we separate, and we need something to bring us back together.”

Matthew Harris, who moved to the district one year ago, agreed. “We want to show the rest of the neighborhood that we care,” Harris said. “I’m going to do whatever is needed.”

And they did. For about two hours the group gathered trash from streets and sidewalks, placed it in garbage bags and set them on street corners where Bean picked it up in his truck.

While one group traveled north, Barbara Johnson and Annie King went west down Water Avenue. Johnson said the clean up was important because the neighborhood should be a place people wanted to live. “Someone just had to take a stand,” Johnson said. “I’m one of those people. I’m very concerned about our neighborhood as a whole.”

King agreed. “If we don’t come out and show that we care, who is going to care?” she asked.