Neighborhood Watch — Cindy Brookshire
January 14, 2009
The Washington DC Examiner
Cindy Brookshire has been a member of the Weems Neighborhood Watch in Manassas for more than two years. In that time, she has found ways to expand the watch program from a crime-reporting entity to one that also cleans up the neighborhood and brings the community together.
How did you get involved with neighborhood watch?
I would often walk my dog and see a lot of trash on Weems Road. There was a phenomenal amount of litter. So I called the Manassas neighborhood services coordinator, Kisha Wilson Sogunro, and she put me in touch with the then-1-year-old Weems Neighborhood Watch group. There were about 50 or 60 people involved then. There’s 94 members now.
How has the group evolved?
It’s more than just dealing with a crime problem. It’s about getting to know your neighbor through various activities. We bring people together so we can better solve problems. When people know each other, they’re more able to discuss what’s going on in their community, and that helps fight crime.
How did you help make that happen?
We started with a community yard sale, and then in the summer we organized a weeklong voluntary cleanup in the neighborhood. We had people pick up litter, other people volunteered to mow lawns. Some houses were given a fresh coat of paint. The neighborhood looked better, but it wasn’t totally fixed. The week was a week of hope and meant to start change, not complete it.
We’re organizing study circles that are meant to bring people from different walks of life together. They will discuss what’s going on in the neighborhood and hopefully help people find common ground.
Have you seen a change in the neighborhood?
People act differently toward each other and it is cleaner. For a while, there were four vacant homes on my block. I saw that one of the homes had branches and sticks on it from a storm, and I was on my way over the clean it up when I found another neighbor already there. ... I still haven’t come to the end of my journey, and I don’t know why I have become involved like this. It’s still being revealed.
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