Group helps clears lots, but Detroit hasn't picked up the brush - KMSP-TV

Group from Ohio helps clears lots, but Detroit hasn't picked up the brush

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Zena Edwards  (Credit: WJBK | Zena Edwards (Credit: WJBK |

Zena Edwards is trying her best "to save the community".  She lives in southwest Detroit and loves it there.

Edwards is a neighborhood champion.  That carries a lot of clout and here's why.  Through the Clean Initiatives Program, she volunteers.

"To get involved in cleaning out some of the vacant homes, the lots that [are] overgrown, and I became a part of that."

The house next door to her home looks horrible, so that became project number one.

"This vacant house, you could not see past the gate.  Everything was overgrown.  You couldn't even see the back porch.  You couldn't see in the alley to the next block.  Someone can come in at night and none of the neighbors can see them going or coming because of all of the brush."

Edwards and several others rolled up their sleeves and got to work, but it was a whole lot harder than they thought it would be.

"Ironically, the house right behind it was also vacant, so this group of kids came from St. Margaret's Church in Cincinnati, Ohio and they finished up this project and they went to the next street and cleaned out that lot, as well."

"When I first looked at it, it looked like a forest back there.  There was a whole bunch of trees.  You couldn't see [anything]," said D'Andre Warren, Edwards' grandson.

Now it looks great.

"I was in awe.  I had never seen anything like that.  We're talking a group of teenagers," Edwards said.  "They never stopped smiling.  They were having fun.  They even started painting the house giving out messages of hope."

So, Edwards' frown was turned upside down, but then unfortunately back down again.

"We were under the impression we would get a special pickup that Monday, June 11.  Well, I live next door and I've been looking at this project since that time, and it's kind of frustrating because you're working to make a little difference and then every day you have to get out and say, okay, when is the city going to do their part?"

They don't feel like that's asking too much at all.

"All we're saying is just make it a priority.  At least come pick the piles up and not make the city look even worse than what it already did," said Edwards.  "I'm going to still be a neighborhood champion, but it makes me a little bit reluctant to take on a project like this again."

Edwards said the last time 311 was called, someone with the city said it could be July before the mess is gone.  She is hoping though that it is at least June 25 because that is their normal bulk pickup day.

"The city does need to be accountable and they need to step up.  We're doing their job.  We're saving them money and finances.  Send a truck out, pick it up."

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