Neighbor Takes Action

November 02, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

In Ida L. Hilditch's younger days, neighbor watched out for neighbor, looked after one another's property and reported unruly children to parents without fear or hesitation.

The memory of those days pushed Mrs. Hilditch into action last November.

She'd seen young adults congregating on the corner near her home.

Empty beer bottles and drug syringes littered the ground.

Neighbors were installing security bars and alarm systems.

At first, she thought the problems were limited to her neighborhood. She soon found people on other blocks equally concerned about vandalism, break-ins, youths drag-racing along residential streets.

"I had to make a decision of facing this as a problem or becoming apathetic about it, and I couldn't choose that way," said Mrs. Hilditch, 60. "Either way you're afraid. But you're even afraid when you don't do something."

She formed the Glen Burnie Block Watch of Glen Gardens, a group that has grown from 16 members to 190 members. In the past year, neighborhood crime has tapered off. Residents say things are better.

For her efforts, Mrs. Hilditch will receive the Governor's Certificate of Merit during a Nov. 22 ceremony in Annapolis.

The Anne Arundel County Police Department, which gave her one of its own certificates in August, nominated her for the governor's crime prevention award.

A retired office manager and bookkeeper, Mrs. Hilditch has lived in Glen Gardens for 30 years and raised four children.

The block watch meets at Glen Lutheran Church, itself once the target of vandalism.

Officer Maxwell Frye said police have been impressed by the group's growth.

"Since I've been in community relations, which has been a little over three years, I haven't seen a community organize a neighborhood watch with that many people," he said.

Mrs. Hilditch wants half of Glen Gardens' 742 families in the block watch, which also formed a 15-member security patrol. Dues are $2.

The money helps pay for the group's newsletter. Mrs. Hilditch used to pay for the printing out of her own pocket.

She still delivers the newsletter door-to-door, just to hear the concerns of her neighbors. She also mails copies to local schools, politicians, businesses.

Sheree Srock said being in the block watch has made her "more aware of a what goes on around here."

"I thought I was sitting good in my own little corner of the world until I found out differently," said Mrs. Srock, a block watch captain and member of the security patrol. "I had no idea there were drugs in the neighborhood, and I'm determined to get it out."

Mrs. Srock, 40, who grew up in Glen Gardens, said, "I don't want my neighborhood to go down the tubes. I hope one day my son raises his family here."

Thanks to the block watch program, Glen Gardens' neighbors are again looking out for each other. Mrs. Hilditch said the group's members are "trying to show people that we can care about each other." All they needed, she said, was for "someone to get something coordinated."

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