Neighborhood Services News
Celebrating the West Zone.
I Believe I Become is not just a meeting – it’s a movement. As each community goes through the various stages of the process, it is always fun to pause for a minute, take a breath, step back and say, “Wow, look at what we’ve done!”
That is what West Zone did a couple of weeks ago. On July 26th the gym at César Chávez Elementary School was packed with parents and community members celebrating the work that their zone has done over the last few months. Leaders from the various action groups presented Power Points showing the progress in the zone and the activities that parents, children, and the community have engaged in since last July.
The bi-lingual presentations were not just a plain list of what was done – they were a tangible testimonial. People from all over the Zone shared their stories, and inspired one another with their successes. Reyna Garcia has seen the progress in other zones, and was impressed by the celebration in the West Zone.
“I’ve seen the Believe 2 Become yard signs. And I’ve seen testimonials of people in different programs of the initiative, like Baby Scholars,” Garcia said. “It’s grown and it’s created an amazing affect in the community.”
The presentations focused on four main areas: Discipline & Values, Parent Volunteers, Positive Messages and Prevention of Drugs & Violence. Each part outlined the actions and engagements they did to achieve the zone goal – “Our children are well-rounded, healthy, and prepared for success by what they learn at home, in school, and in the community.” They showed inspirational movies and had family fun days. They also worked hard to create unity in the community – from cleaning up parks to an impromptu peace march in response to violence, they overcame many hurdles.
The crowd gave an audible sigh and claps erupted when they saw a picture of Sue Garza, the director of the Cook Library. The slides explained that reading had exploded since Believe 2 Become came into the zone, with 4,052 more books being checked out from April to July. Garza said that there is a culture of reading in the zone now.
"Since B2B is in the neighborhood, the meetings on location, the feeling of having their own library has increased greatly,” Garza explained. “People know the library is here for them and Believe 2 Become has increased their desire for education and reading."
In addition to the four main action groups that the presentations covered, the youth group also presented their progress. At the last minute the presenters were switched, and the Parent-Teacher Organization President Monica Quiroz’s daughter Karina stepped up to the plate. Even though she was nervous, she did well explaining what the youth action committee accomplished.
She explained that her biggest surprise was during a presentation on drugs and violence by the Grand Rapids Police – she said she did not really know before that the only way a person can get out of a gang is death or jail. Beyond the drugs and violence prevention piece, Karina said that Believe 2 Become made her feel good. The main thing that she said she likes about Believe 2 Become?
“It’s good to know that people believe in me.”