I’m always amazed by the sights and the action I see around Somersworth when it comes to community and Thursday May 11th was such a day of amazement for me. A day when I got to witness community in action and all with a huge dose of caring.
Community Policing At John Parson’s School
My first trip out into Somersworth was at the request of the Police Department. I know, when most of us get a call from the PD it’s not normally a good thing but in this case it was really good. I was invited to the John Powers School which is located on Main Street to take part in a partnership that was being created between Officer Fuller and the schools Councillor, Jennifer Rice.
In case you aren’t aware the John Powers School is a day school for kids that learn differently and require a smaller environment to learn effectively than the one that is offered in most public schools. The school caters to the needs of kids with many different types of disabilities and according to Councilor Rice, focuses on the strengths that these children have.
When I arrived at the school, I was led into a small classroom where a canvas was laid on the floor and a small group of Somersworth Police officers and detectives were laid or knelt on the floor, paintbrush in hand and beside each officer was a child. Some of the officers were in full uniform others such as Officer Fuller were not. As the morning went on the mural began to take shape as did relationships between the officers and students.
The original idea for the collaboration had been for the kids and SPD to join forces and clean up Willand Pond as a celebration of earth day. Unfortunately, as so often happens according to Officer Fuller and Councilor Rice, things like insurance needs prevented that proposed project and the idea of a mural was born instead. Slowly but surely the earth began to emerge from the blank canvas and was filled with depictions of penguins, rainbows and trashcans to name but a few.
Seeing the kids interact with the police department in a different way than unfortunately both parties often find themselves in, was the main aim of the morning. I have to say to this casual observer it was wonderful to watch as those relationships changed and the fact that some of the officers had hidden artistic talents that were brought out by the kids was just as wonderful to witness.
Two hours later the mural was complete and each child that attends the school had participated. The mural will have a permanent home on school grounds and will serve as a permanent reminder of a morning spent building relationships.
Keller Williams Realty Turns Hilltop Red.
I left the school with a happy heart at what I had just witnessed and was ready to go to the next community event that was designed to give back. In no time I found myself on the Hill and more specifically parked outside Hilltop school. While Hilltop school was not my next assignment it was to play a large part in the next couple of hours. I was on the hill to visit one of my favorite non-profits in the city, Lydia’s House of Hope.
As I had driven along Grant street it was impossible to miss the sea of red shirts that were making themselves busy around Lydia’s house which is located at 95 Grand street. I had to stop for the excavator that was busy removing debris and bushes from outside the property, avoid the wheel barrows that were being wheeled around the area and people with rakes that were busy scurrying to get a job done. In case you wondering what all the activity was about the hoards in red shirts were all real estate agents from Keller Williams Reality and they had chosen Lydia’s House of Hope as their project for their day of red this year.
Over 125 agents had chosen to participate in the project, some from as far away as North Conway. They had set out to beautify the outside of the property that now housed four formerly homeless families, with more set to join the community. While the inside of the eighteen bed-roomed house has undergone extensive renovations, the landscaping definitely needed a helping hand and thanks to the willingness of all those hands that’s exactly what it received yesterday.
The entire outside of the property was busing with activity. Thanks to the generosity of several local firms who included Taylor Rental of Farmington who provided the excavator which made for much lighter work for all. I walked around the entire building and was amazed once more by what I saw. Many of the agents had chosen to bring their children with them, and they could be found working just as hard on the projects as their parents. Piles of loam, mulch and gravel began to disappear as quickly as gardens, walkways and borders began to take shape around the property. At the back of the property a deck was being constructed, to hold the brand new grill that had also been donated to the organization.
At lunch time large helpings of pizza were devoured by a group that had worked hard throughout the morning, before an important part of the day was performed. The flagpole that stands on the hilltop has been sporting an American Flag that had been the victims of the harsh New England weather and it had been decided that a new one would be placed atop it that day. Lydia’s House of Hope Director, Thersa Tozier, was present as the old and tattered flag was retired, before a new one was hoisted high above the old Hilltop School by several of Keller Williams Realty Veterans. The old flag will be given to American Legion Post 69 for proper disposal by the way. I should mention that the old entrance to Hilltop now sports two urns and adds some dignity to the grand old building.
Alas I could stay no longer but I got a moment to talk to Theresa Tozier, the director of Lydia’s House of Hope who expressed her thanks to all the agents who took part in the day. She also could not have summed my day up better than with these words, “This is what community looks like!”