BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One of newest homeowners associations in Baton Rouge is in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Glen Oaks West came together nine months ago with a group of people determined to take back their neighborhood, and they're not letting up in their efforts.
Pastor Donald Hunter of New Beginning Baptist Church is used to leading congregations, but Thursday evening it was a group of volunteers. They knocked on doors in Glen Oaks West to rally neighbors for the association’s first-ever cleanup day this Saturday.
“If you want us to do some trimming, cut the lawn. We're just doing things in the neighborhood to build a relationship with one another,” Hunter told one resident on Glen Oaks Drive.
Hunter hopes a cleaner community means a safer community.
“When you're able to do away with blight and show pride in your property, the research says that is a major means of reducing crime in the neighborhood,” he said.
Glen Oaks has seen its share of violence. So far this year two people have been gunned down in the area (March 27th on Dan Drive and June 8th on Crestway Avenue), but there have been no homicides in Glen Oaks West.
Diane Michelli has been here since 1957. Her house was one of the first.
“My family had carpenters, electricians, plumbers, so it was a family thing that raised the house,” she said.
Michelli says oftentimes folks just need a little nudge to get involved.
“I think everybody cares, but when we care as a community it makes a difference,” she added.
Nicholas Washington is another lifelong resident who hadn't heard about the homeowner’s association until Thursday's visit.
“I think it's a wonderful, wonderful thing that they're doing. We really need the help…to go back to the way it was. If it looks better, it feels better and people tend to act a little better,” he said.
Earlier this year Glen Oaks West paid for several new roofs and had street lights installed on Glen Oaks Drive. Now Pastor Hunter wants everyone to know they're not going anywhere.
“It's not going to happen overnight. You've got to be really in it for the long haul, and I think the church is the vehicle that makes the difference. We're here to stay,” he said. “When we're able to have neighbors working together with one another, in my mind as a pastor, we embrace one of the great and significant parts of being a Christian, which it says you should love your neighbor as yourself.”
Hunter says he’s pleased with local law enforcement and that representatives from the BRAVE (Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination) project will also be on hand Saturday.
“We had a chance to meet with our district attorney, we had a chance to meet with Chief Dabadie. We had a chance to talk about what we can do together to have a better relationship with our law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Saturday’s cleanup effort will last from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm. Volunteers plan to cut laws, clear fence and property lines and pick up trash. A headquarters will be set up at 6844 McClelland Drive. Call 225-636-9404 for more information.
Organizers ask volunteers to bring the following equipment:
• Lawn mowers
• Gas for equipment
• Wheel barrows