Reichert project caters to neighborhoods


Deontra Smith, 15, picks up trash at Eden Park Apartments during the kick-off of the My Block Project sponsored by the Reichert House.

CLEVELAND TINKER/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.

The Reichert House Youth Academy after-school program for school-aged boys is using the newly implemented My Block Project to take academy students to the communities where they live to instill a sense of neighborhood pride and ownership in them, their parents and other residents.

The program kicked off last Friday afternoon at Eden Park Apartments on NE 39th Avenue by having students in the program pick up the small amount of trash that was on the ground in the immaculately landscaped complex. The Reichert House also provided pizza to residents and gave away items donated by the Walmart Supercenter in east Gainesville.

John Alexander, executive director of the Reichert House, said the My Block Project has two goals — to empower students and their parents with a sense of neighborhood pride and ownership and to educate residents about the benefits of the Reichert House.

"What we are basically doing is taking the concept of the Reichert House to the neighborhoods," Alexander said. "This event is being held to allow the residents and our Reichert House students that live out here a chance to develop a sense of ownership of their neighborhoods so they can begin to create youth programs, a neighborhood crime watch, or whatever it may be they need to do to improve their neighborhood."

Alexander said the project also is designed to bring about more unity in neighborhoods and it will be introduced to other neighborhoods in the future.

He also said he was thankful that Gail McCray, property manager at Eden Park, partnered with the Reichert House and allowed the project to begin there.

McCray said she supports the project because it is a worthwhile effort.

"It's very important that we expose as many of our residents as we can to the experiences boys are getting at the Reichert House," McCray said. "The Reichert House is helping out a lot of our youth and is turning a lot of our youths lives around and that is something that we truly need. We have several kids who live here that attend the Reichert House and this is a great way to let other parents know about the effectiveness of the Reichert House."

Children had a chance to climb on a Gainesville Fire Rescue fire truck and others huddled around Gainesville Police Department Officer Ernest Graham, a crime prevention specialist, who was on hand with the GPD mobile safety eduction unit. Graham was there to teach the "You and the Law" session designed to educate residents about common laws.

Jacquez Reese, 12, a Reichert House student who is in the sixth grade at Lincoln Middle School, said he was glad to be a part of the project.

"The Reichert House has helped me a lot and I am glad we are out here doing this," Jacquez said.

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