Pioneer Drive neighbors seek the ties that bind Night Out also designed to promote services

August 09, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Neighbors along Pioneer Drive called for unity and peace with a weekend party to celebrate their communities, take a stand against crime and bring local support for more services for residents.

"It's a good thing for the community to meet each other and the community agencies that they don't know about or don't know how to get in touch with," said Victoria Davis, secretary of Pioneers in Action, the neighborhood group that sponsored the event.

Yesterday's gathering along Pioneer Drive was to be an anti-crime demonstration similar to the National Night Out celebrated last week by communities across the nation. But Pioneers in Action also called for services -- teen and family crisis centers, church groups, homeownership advocates and government leaders -- to help residents with their concerns, among them crime, children's activities, a recreation center and homeownership.

"The purpose is for people to start coming out and being visible," said Glenda Gathers, Pioneers in Action vice president. "I call it, 'Know thy neighbor.' If you know those around you, then you'll know who's not supposed to be here."

The communities along Pioneer Drive -- the Orchards at Severn, Warfield and Somerset Woods -- have long been troubled by drugs, violence and other crimes that have left some neighbors fearful and driven down property values.

The Pioneer Drive Night Out party was to be a sign of hope that the good programs and activities will grow, neighbors say.

This is the second community gathering for the neighborhoods along Pioneer Drive. After last year's Night Out, the local Boys and Girls Club, the YWCA and a police community service program that rewards kids with bicycles gained some followers, Davis said. About 400 residents participated in the daylong event.

Yet there were some who sat on their stoops across the street from the events, refusing to take part. That troubled community leaders like Yvonne Johnson.

"We still have people who are looking from their door," said Johnson, Pioneers in Action president. "They're afraid. They don't want to get involved. If they're standing there, they see it, hear it, maybe this year they'll get involved."

Along with a disc jockey, community children's groups were to be part of the day's entertainment. The Pioneer City Youngins, a band that plays everything from rhythm and blues to classical music; the Pioneer City Steppers, a dance group; and the New Beginnings Community Choir were all scheduled to perform.

Police Chief Larry Tolliver, Western District Capt. Timothy Bowman, County Councilman Bert L. Rice and Assistant State's Attorney Michael Cogan were scheduled to attend.

Organizers had also set up relay races and water balloon sports for the children, and a candlelight vigil at dusk.

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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