By BRIAN GRAVES
"Everybody matters" could easily serve as the slogan for the Blythe-Oldfield Community Association.Formed only a few years ago, its members now number around 30, and its officers want to see it …
"Everybody matters" could easily serve as the slogan for the Blythe-Oldfield Community Association.
Formed only a few years ago, its members now number around 30, and its officers want to see it expand.
"We started in 2014 with just four of us saying our community needed a change," said Julia Porter, president of BOCA. "We have grown, and it is mainly to bring our community together to better everybody, just to change things back to where we are a hard-working neighborhood where people care about each other."
"Now, you only know your neighbors by what they set out in the road," she added. "That's not the way it should be."
Porter said there is now a neighborhood garden and a community watch, for which she credits local law enforcement's efforts and work.
"There are also houses being revitalized because of the recent TVA grant which makes for more comfortable housing," said Shirley Knight, BOCA treasurer.
"We are really excited about seeing the new playground coming along," Porter said. "We call the walking path 'Shirley's Circle' because she has walked in this neighborhood for over 40 years."
Both Porter and Knight work at Blythe-Bower Elementary School and note the neighborhood is a school zone.
Knight said there was a feeling this new move in the community was taking root w "when the city started listening to us."
"We wanted a change here and they saw we were serious about it," Knight said. "So, they brought Dustin (Tommey, director of Impact Cleveland) to guide us to how we can get things done."
"We didn't know we could go to the city," Porter said. "The city listened, and we got a playground. We've gotten new sidewalks."
Porter said she is proud of all that has been accomplished.
"I would have never went to the mayor and said, 'I want,'" she said. "That just wasn't in me six years ago."
"Some people thought, 'they won't listen to me,'" Knight said. "We have told them they have a voice, use it. The more people work together, the more that can be accomplished."
"Everybody matters," Porter added. "Some people still think this is a housing association. It's not. It is a community association. We don't care if you rent. What type of housing you have doesn't matter. You are part of our community. Your opinion matters. You know what we need. You see things we don't see. We need you to step up and say what you think we need."
Both say a major focus is on the children of the community.
"There was a time I wouldn't let my child walk alone to the park," Porter said.
BOCA has sponsored several events for the children, including movies in the park, and the plans are for more events that can both entertain and enrich education.
The organization is a nonprofit and operates on donations to help fund its projects and events.
A fundraising event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., at the old Blythe School. Vendor spaces can be purchased for $10, which will go to BOCA's efforts in the community.
"What ever they sell, they keep," Porter said. "We make our money from selling the spaces. That's how we maintain our garden and the water bill. United Way has donated the land our garden is on, and we have to start taking over the insurance. It also helps fund our newsletter."
"The fundraising has been sufficient, but there's a lot more to do at this point," she said.
The dedication of the new park is scheduled for Oct. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Melanie Brubaker, who is the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer serving as secretary of the organization, said she is impressed with what she has seen in the people of the Blythe-Oldfield neighborhood.
"I'm really inspired by Julia and Shirley and all of the people who come — just for the change they want to see in their community," Brubaker said. "I'm honored to be a part of it just a little bit. I'm inspired by the dedication to their neighborhood."
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