Local church reaches out to help community

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church hosted “Making our Neighborhoods Work” Saturday, which was a training seminar for community empowerment through involvement.

For many of the students, Tallahassee is not a home; it is a transitional setting as they further their education, said Daryll Jones, one of the executive directors of Bethel Community Development Corporation.

But to make Tallahassee feel more like home and to add security along with a more prosperous economy, Bethel AME is collaborating with many other neighboring businesses and associations to refurbish the Southside community.

In attendance were a mixture of over 25 students, professors, business owners and neighborhood associations, all of which had concerns about the advancement of Southside and its economy.

Charles Connerly, the director of Florida State University’s Urban and Regional Planning, was on hand to facilitate the meeting and to ensure that through his work with the Community Outreach Partnership and Center, the neighborhood of the South can become “a more renovated and thus a prettier and safe environment, not only for the students of the local colleges, but for those that permanently reside in this neighborhood.”

BCDC programs, and those alike, such as affordable housing, child care, and drug rehabilitation are for the purpose of empowering as well as encouraging the people of the Southside to live quality lives. “Our motto is to change neighborhoods, one family at a time,” Jones said.

“We as a people no longer want to be welfare pimps or assist in making the poor poorer and the rich richer. We feel like the churches need to be more involved with changing the community and its people everyday of the week besides Sunday,” Jones said.

Through the many programs that Bethel has implemented, they plan to reach families who are rooted in Tallahassee and plan to raise their families here. To reach this section of Leon County will give hope to the neighborhood being more secure and clean for the students who have to commute through or live in the area.

Leroy Hill, another executive director at the Bethel AME Church, said, “They don’t have the amenities that the other parts have. Like French Town, FSU is helping to build that area up, so we need more help in this area of town.”

Hill also explained that the new projects will work on infrastructure as well as affordable housing and small businesses.

“We want to restore the neighborhood’s quality, and ensure that there is better roads and lighting so that the children can play on the playgrounds,” Hill said.

By establishing many different businesses in the area, the community’s economy will be boosted instead of having to compete with stores such as Wal-Mart or Target, Hill said.

He added the communities will have stores for the students that will be cheap and affordable for their low budgets, and property values will also be on the rise.

He also said he feels that based on the movement in the community, the impact in students will be a positive one.