On Friday, October 15, 2010, Focus: HOPE and the Central Woodward/North End Safety team led more than 24 University of Central High School Service Learning Students, together with Principal Steven McGhee and other instructors in boarding up a vacant and abandoned home on Tuxedo Street, just across the street from the school. This property was the tragic scene, a few weeks earlier, of a rape, perpetrated by the Tuxedo St. rapist. The team also boarded up several other homes that were vacant and open to trespass on Tuxedo St. One of the students described very clearly why he was volunteering for this effort — he is “tired of women and girls being raped in his community.”
The students painted the boards, cleaned up debris and brush around the properties, and passed out flyers with a photograph of the rapist to residents around the University of Central High School.
10th Precinct Detroit Police Officers assisted with this work by searching the abandoned homes prior to board up to ensure no one was loitering or squatting while the homes were being secured. The students took pride in their work, and made sure that the job was well done. Many residents came out to see what was happening on their block, as a result of the energy from the Central High School youth. Residents living on Tuxedo thanked youth and pledged to re-start the once vibrant block group again.
By the end of the day 7 homes had been secured, cubic yards of trash cleaned up, and flyers distributed to alert the community about a rapist still on the loose.
This strategy of involving youth in combating environmental situations which contribute to crime is one being led by Focus: HOPE’s Safety Coordinator, Bridget Vance, and by Assistant Safety Coordinator, Galen Hardy. They are making a tangible impact throughout the six square miles of the Central Woodward/North End area.
Central High School students and staff pose after a job well done!