FAMU grad students help improve city’s south side

FAMU students and administrators met earlier this week to discuss the Greater Bond Project.
Shavell Martin | The Famuan

The greater Bond community’s “Do Something Day” is a joint effort to improve the quality of life on Tallahassee’s south side.

It is the result of a partnership between the City of Tallahassee, the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association, Greater Zion Primitive Baptist Church and FAMU.

“Do Something Day” was created after an assessment of the community  discovered that these four areas needed to be improved: neighborhood safety, community beautification, land use, economic development, and resident empowerment

Katisa Donaldson, Rolanda Brown-Dennis and Shonda Davis are members of the beautification committee who recently canvased the area by going house to house to get a better sense of the needs of the community and to also prepare for the overall clean up to take place this fall. “We are community advocators and administrators working as a team by pulling other people in that have expertise in other areas to help neighborhoods take back their ownership,” Donaldson said.

Jacqueline Perkins, the former field director of the Criminal Justice Department at FAMU, contacted Donaldson about the project.

A native of Tallahassee, Donaldson has been teaching macro social work for 20 years and has been a professor at FAMU for 13 years. “This would be a huge project for the Department of Social Work but what the greater Bond community is doing is what we teach our students in the MSW (master’s) graduate program and I wanted my students to obtain the community macro social work theories skill set hands on. The Department of Social Work is so excited to see the outcome for the Bond community and FAMU,” Donaldson said.

Now Donaldson, students, and colleagues are pushing forward to bring the Bond community’s vision to life.  

“I want the Bond community to be a place that my two young children can enjoy family time just as I did,” said Brown-Dennis, a graduate student at FAMU. In 2012, Brown-Dennis received her bachelor’s in social work at FAMU and is now pursuing her master’s in social work.

Brown-Dennis’ career focus is child welfare; she is the foster family services recruiter for Boys Town with six years of experience in the system.

“When a child says, ‘I’m hungry, I’m hungry, I’m hungry,’ and you don’t feed that child, they’re going to stop coming to you because they know you can’t meet their needs —  which is the same thing with the community. They have been asking and advocating for themselves but a pacifier has been thrown in their mouths and backs have been turned on them,” Brown-Dennis said.

Davis says she’s eager to help the city’s south side. “The greater Bond area was my first home, it is my heritage, it’s where I am from, where my family is from and at one point that’s all I knew,” Davis said.

She graduated from FAMU with her bachelor’s in social work and is working at Capital Medical Society, We Care Network as a case manager for Leon County while pursuing her master’s in social work. “Being part of this project is a way of giving back and doing something for the good of the people who still reside in that area. There are so many children and adults that will and could benefit from this vision, so as students we are going to help the vision of The Greater Bond Project a reality by doing what we do best,” said Davis.

The community’s issues include overgrown trees, broken fences, unlivable homes and ponds filled with trash from Illegal dumping.