Volunteer Sara Jimerson, of Detroit, sweeps a sidewalk on Liberal Street between Gratiot and Hayes as part of a neighborhood rehabilitation project organized by the Youth Community Agency July 28.

Volunteer Sara Jimerson, of Detroit, sweeps a sidewalk on Liberal Street between Gratiot and Hayes as part of a neighborhood rehabilitation project organized by the Youth Community Agency July 28.

Photo by Sean Work


Nonprofit works to improve east side neighborhood

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published August 2, 2018

 Messiah Hussey, 2, of Roseville, pitches in to lend a hand as he helps his dad, Tamone, with the construction of a free library box during a neighborhood cleanup organized by the Youth Community Agency July 28.

Messiah Hussey, 2, of Roseville, pitches in to lend a hand as he helps his dad, Tamone, with the construction of a free library box during a neighborhood cleanup organized by the Youth Community Agency July 28.

Photo by Sean Work

DETROIT — On July 28, members of the Youth Community Agency took to the streets of a northeast Detroit neighborhood to help improve the community.

The YCA is a nonprofit that tries to engage young people to take positive action for themselves and their neighbors. The group’s founder, Rodnesha Ross, said the neighborhood they chose to improve was picked because it has a special meaning to her.

“I chose this area because I live here and grew up here,” said Ross. “When I was young, a woman in the neighborhood committed her time to cleaning up the community, and it made a big impression on me. I want to bring it full circle and make an impression on young people like my nieces and nephews who are here today.”

Volunteers spent the day addressing unoccupied houses and building community resources in a public space that they wanted to turn into a community park.

“What we’re doing today is going from Liberal (Street) and Gratiot to Liberal and Hayes,” said YCA member Darnell Carter. “We’re going to board up as many houses as possible. The area here (also has) sort of a community park. We collected tires to border the area and we’re planting in them, (as well as) these beds we’re putting in. We’re also doing some general cleaning.”

YCA member Tamone Hussey said completing the project wasn’t just about that day, but about inspiring others in the future.

“I’ve got my kids with me so I can teach them young to get involved and not give up on this city. … It’s so important to give back,” he said. “I want to set a good example for my kids, but it also helps get them away from the TV and video games and doing something outside.”

Hussey said he was attracted to the YCA because it was a group that was being proactive about helping make things better.

“I’m helping plant today, and helping build a free community library box for the kids here,” Hussey added. “I like the Youth Community Agency because I saw an organization that’s not ignoring the abandoned homes and other problems, and is a positive aspect on the neighborhood.”

The YCA is hoping to keep up its momentum with some upcoming projects in the same area.

“We’re helping to do an art walk in a few weeks. We also want to plant fall crops in the plant boxes here for sort of a fall harvest,” said Ross. “We also want to rent some of the homes out to low-income families. That way, they can stabilize themselves and help stabilize the neighborhood.”

Ross hopes more people will be inspired to pitch in and take action to make their neighborhoods better.

“I think the first thing to do is seek out any community meetings going on in that community or district,” she said. “Also, check to see if there are any established block clubs you can get involved with or build off of. After that, it’s just a matter of getting out and getting your hands dirty.”

People can learn more about the organization at its website, www.youthcommunityagency.org.

“We just want to see some change,” said Carter. “We have a known dope haven in this neighborhood, and people have overdosed there, and we want to get that out of here. Officials are limited in what they can do, so this is us policing our own community. If we don’t change it, it’s going to change on its own, and it will do it in a way you don’t want it to.”