‘Safety Starts with Me,’ says local volunteer

Star Roland volunteers in various ways to improve safety in the Hope Village Community, a 107-block community, located near and supported by Focus: HOPE on the city’s west side.
“Be the change you want to see,” said Roland explaining her motto. She serves as the Community Involvement & Safety Coordinator at Focus: HOPE and president of Hope Village Families Community Association.
Improving safety is an important component of a community improvement and empowerment plan she and other residents developed called “A State of Hope”.
“Our goals are to be educationally well prepared, economically self-sufficient and everyone living in a safe and supportive environment,” said Roland lives in the community with her two children, ages 7 and 2.
The group is making the community safer and more fun.
One of her initiatives offers a case in point.
LaSalle-Ford Park, known by some in the community as the Village Well, was also known to be a place where people hung out drinking and smoking, as well as playing basketball at the park on LaSalle between Ford and LaBelle.
“While in the park one day with my kids, I walked over to the guys playing basketball and said, ‘What do you all think about a basketball tournament?!’ The response was an overwhelming YES! But what do we have to do to make that happen?
“The young men said these trees are in the way and these nets are terrible!
“May 6, 2018, the trees will be cut and new nets are being put up. This summer LaSalle Park will have its first Basket Ball Tournament.
“Working with the young men is more of a tactic to build capacity of the park and engagement,” she said. “It can be looked at in its entirety as a safety project because we are cleaning the park, removing brush as well as putting up new nets for the basketball rims”.
The Hope Village Community raised money for the nets. The city of Detroit cut the trees.
Leaders of the Hope Village Community also work to improve community relations with officers from the Detroit Police 10th Precinct.
Two projects stand out: “Cop on the Block” and “Coffee with a Cop”, both part of citywide efforts to improve community policing.
The second Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. about a dozen residents meet at the 10th Precinct for “Coffee with a Cop.”
              The coffee is provided by a neighborhood business, Eleos Coffee House, located at 12041 Dexter Ave.
Through the “Cop on the Block Program” neighborhood police officers, NSO, come to the neighborhood periodically just for conversation.
Patricia Carter, the Community Liaison for the Oakman Boulevard Association, has attended several meetings.
“The meetings are relaxing and informative and the officers address concerns of residents,” she said
The Village association has also held safety training sessions on topics including bullying, self-defense and domestic violence.
“I do this work because our people are powerful and they just need people who are like me to be the voice to implement change,” Roland said.

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