Neighbor, a park dedicated to “do-gooders” in northern Colombia

The scent of barbecue filled the air, the sound of soul music rang through speakers, and tapestries of people from different professions filled a small park in the corner of a vast housing complex on Wednesday morning.

It was a great day in at least one neighborhood in Colombia.

Dozens of people gathered at the Ames Villas Apartment Complex in northern Colombia on Wednesday to celebrate the dedication of John E. Moore Children’s Park. The complex is located on the outskirts of Ames Road, not far from North Main Street, near the Prescott Terrace community.

Pocket Park’s dedication, including new playsets and pavilions, was the culmination of a pilot community engagement program initiated several years ago by Christ Mission Church’s initiative, The Door Home. Many neighbors, other churches, nonprofits, private sectors and community leaders have contributed to the program’s efforts and played an important role in supporting the establishment of children’s parks.

The park is named after a former juvenile judicial champion and Colombian community leader. Moore died on July 21, 2020. He was 76 years old.

Stacey Atkinson works at The Door Home and is a leading leader in the Ames Villas community program. She is proud of the new parks and pavilions in a district that is mostly African-American in northern Colombia, but said that ties with her neighbors are paramount.

“One of the things we discovered is that this isn’t really’things’, it’s about relationships,” says Atkinson. “What we have discovered is that if we can build bridges across neighborhoods, expand relationships in different ways and focus on our passions, we can build new friendships and create opportunities for change. That is. “

Kenyatta Davis has lived in Ames Villas for 12 years. She said she was excited about the new park in her complex and thanked the groups and institutions that worked together to launch the park and community relationship program.

“I think it’s great,” she told The State. “This is a great opportunity for people in this community. I want these groups to come here to make this community stronger. I believe that this playground is already in use. “

Davis admitted that residents of Ames Villa were initially hesitant about the door home and its associated self-proclaimed “good people” band. But that hesitation eventually diminished.

“For people, they really didn’t want to get involved,” Davis said. “They were kind of skeptical, but now they’re all loose.”

Chris Gutierrez is a member of Ames Villas’ owning group. He told the state that the kind of community partnerships on display on Wednesday are rare.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Gutierrez. “When you buy real estate in half-baked America, you need the help of people like this, groups like this, and nonprofits like this, but you’re not always with them. Stacey (Atkinson) ) And someone like her conglomerate needs to work hard and put it together. This doesn’t always happen. “

Dylan Gunnels, along with the community care organization Mutual Aid Midlands, is part of a community outreach activity at Ames Villas.

He said there was a targeted effort to expand the term “neighbor” in a way that focused on the relationships between people and strengthened the bonds that connect them.

“I personally live about five minutes off the road, but this is my neighborhood, because being a neighbor is a person,” says Gunnels. “It’s not a matter of physical structure or zip code. It’s about the people we influence. The idea that we’re always next to our neighbors because we’re always in the community with people. is.”