Let me take you back to how it all started. The Meadow Park Initiative takes place in the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city of Rochester. When I first started this program, I had no idea what to expect, where to start, or when I’ll ever see a change within the community, but I knew that I wanted to get connected with the residents as soon as possible.
I met community members, from the neighborhood, who know the area and their neighbors well. They had given me advice and ideas on where to start and who to talk to. Without their guidance, I would’ve been stuck on square one. These people that they suggested I talk to, allowed me to navigate my way through the neighborhood. I knew my way around in no time thanks to them. These members still help me to this day whenever I feel lost or need help. I’m truly grateful for the guidance I had received when I took the time to talk to the Meadow Park residents.
I had become pretty familiar with the neighborhood rather quickly. I knew who lived where and who they were friends with. I knew from the start that I needed to build relationships with the Meadow Park residents so that they knew that I really wanted to make a difference in their lives. From the beginning, I had seen a sense of unity within the neighbor’s environment. Everyone was very close with each other and they had a hard time trusting new people. But in no time, they welcomed me into their homes like they had known me for years.
It didn’t take a genius to realize that the residents were very familial. This had partly to do with the fact that they had similar backgrounds. A good percentage of the families that live in this neighborhood are refugees from Somalia, and the majority of them are African Americans or African Natives. This neighborhood also has a good percentage of Latinx and Southeast Asians. Some have nicknamed it the “United Nations” in order to describe how diverse it is. This neighborhood is so incredibly unique yet so united at the same time.