Congressman Dan Kildee, Flint community leaders talk Civic Park - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Congressman Dan Kildee, Flint community leaders talk Civic Park cleanup, youth employment

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FLINT (WJRT) - (05/05/14) - Cleaning up neighbors, empowering and employing people was the focus of a community meeting with Congressman Dan Kildee, Monday, in Flint.

Pastor Robert McCathern, with Joy Tabernacle Church, hosted the meeting at his church.
They focused on the Civic Park neighborhood and its youth.

"In terms of how to engage the neighborhood. How to move us from abandonment to occupancy. How to move the young people from idleness to employment," McCathern said.

McCathern also brought in a group of young people to talk about what they're currently doing - volunteering with the church, cutting grass and working on homes, to spruce up the area where they live.

Twenty-year-old Sela Gibson is one of them.

"Basically making the community better," he said.

McCathern said he hopes what they all are doing in Civic Park can be used as a model for all of north Flint.

He took the group on a walking tour too, to show them window and door coverings placed on 150 properties. They look like windows and doors, but they're not real. McCathern wants to see more of it in the area.

"Until we can either tear homes down or refurbish homes, this looks better," he said. "(It's like) putting a band aid on a sore rather than leaving sore open and exposed."

McCathern said the Genesee County Land Bank helped with the coverings and the Ruth Mott Foundation paid for them.

"Cleaning up the abandoned property, but also giving some hope to these young people that are so much a part of it. If we can see the kind of reinvestment this place needs, I think there's not a community in this country that can't benefit from what we learn here. It's really important," Kildee said.

Kildee said they all need to think about how to support youth employment especially when considering the work they could be doing in the neighborhoods that need it.

"I introduced legislation to expand summer youth employment. Their stories are so much more compelling in helping argue for that than anything I can say. One of the things I want to do is get these folks together, get them on videotape and get this message broadcast down to my friends in Washington so they understand there are young people ready to work they just need the opportunity," Kildee said.
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