Ward 4 receives makeover

Published 12:54 am Sunday, May 17, 2009

Melissa Hubbard and Parrish Williams picked up bottles and debris on Martin Luther King Street on Saturday. At the same time, Hubbard’s son, Tim Hubbard added to the effort as her husband Jeffrey Hubbard, mowed the yards of people he did not know.

The quartet was a sliver of a combined effort that included more than 60 Dallas County residents that dedicated their Saturday to a Ward 4 beautification project. The project caps two weeks of beautification projects intended to make the area more presentable and friendly.

The group began its work at 6 a.m., with volunteers coming and going, canvassing the area throughout the morning and afternoon. When the efforts came to a halt, the workers had made a mark on First, Eighth, Ninth ad 10th avenues, Marie Foster Street, Saint Phillips Street, Lawrence Street, Franklin Street, Fleetwood Drive, Agee Avenue, Summerfield Road, Montague Street and Highland Avenue.

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More impressive, the group’s makeup was varied in age, race and background. Ward 4 Councilwoman Angela Benjamin said the effort included participants from Valley Grande, Ward 5 and Ward 3.

“This was designed to be a collaborative,” said Benjamin. “Even though it’s inside Ward 4, we solicited people outside of Ward 4. We wanted them to come together for a show of unity, and we call that ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’”

The project was intended to coincide with National Clean-up Week in March, but torrential downpours forced it to be postponed to a later date.

That later date necessitated working in warmer conditions, but many of the volunteers — old and young alike — were happy to participate.

“I want to clean up Selma,” said Benjamin’s son, Kamau Little. “I feel like we are making some progress.”

Little performed a variety of tasks throughout the day. He chopped through tall grass and cut through weeds and branches with hedge clippers. Two other volunteers, brother LaDarius and Deundre White varied their tasks between trimming, weed eating and mowing.

The Whites went into Saturday as beautification project veterans. It was Deundre White’s eighth project and LaDarius White’s seventh.

“I mostly came to help the community in service,” said Deundre White. “We’re basically doing it for the people who just wanted it cleaned up. We just got out here and started working.”

Concordia student Rodnicka Hill, a Detroit, Mich. native, was recruited to the project by Benjamin.

“I’m a social work major,” said Hill. “It’s excellent practice for social work because social work starts with the community.”

Benjamin also called on Ward 4 residents Sallie Jackson, Sarah Beaver, Letha Dillard and other area senior citizens to act as advisors for the volunteers.

“Her idea was to have the generations — different generations and ethnics — work together to show that Selma can work together, and we can,” said Jackson.

Their job was to notify the group of areas of Ward 4 that required attention. All three have lived in Selma for the majority of their lives, and remember how it used to look.

“We want a clean city, first of all, and then after we get everything cleaned up, then we want to beautify it,” said Dillard. “Selma used to be a beautiful city, especially up in this area. As the years have gone by, things have changed, and we’re not so proud of what we see.”

As the volunteers’ labors neared their end, all three were pleased with the result and the progress they saw over the last two weeks.

“I love what I’ve seen so far,” said Dillard.