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New Community Partner Helps Organize Riverwest

by Teresa Gillotti

Here’s the drill. You get a knock at your door, and see a friendly, but unfamiliar face. He’s holding a brochure with information about the neighborhood and has a cell phone. The name behind the face is Mark McInerney, and he is not a salesman. The brochure he carries explains his role as the new Community Partner in Riverwest, and his phone and book of numbers are his tools. His role? One answer is community organizing. He goes door-to-door to make around 40 face-to-face contacts a week, attends community meetings, and reacquaints himself with the neighborhood. Another answer is crime prevention, and another still, neighborhood awareness. “I’m trying to get myself out there, going to meetings [and meeting people],” he said. “I’ve had a pretty good response.” On the job for a month, he has started working his way north from the Milwaukee River to Capitol Drive and from Humboldt Boulevard to Holton Street, the boundaries of his district. McInerney’s job is unique in that it revolves around helping residents find the resources and tools to improve their neighborhood. “Sanitation, parking, abandoned automobiles, the street light that’s out, housing repair, child care programs…” he easily ticks off the list and continues, “gang activity, drug activity, block watches, working with the police or county or DPW… My role is not to come into an area and take over,” he said. “[I want to be able] to help residents cue into the problems, get organized, and solve them. It’s a job where the goal is to work yourself out of a job.” With a background working in the criminal justice system, McInerney was interested in the Community Partners program, with its focus on crime prevention. He says he’s already met people involved in block clubs, and notes some have been disbanded as the block’s situation improved. Other blocks may need to start or revive a watch, and he can help facilitate the meetings, find the venue, and follow up. “My style [in organizing] is based on residents’ concern,” he said. “The work I’m doing can foster change. I like that word connector. It’s a way of being a liaison to help people bridge the gap to reestablish trust and bring confidence back [between residents and police and DPW],” he said. “I’m making a call like anyone makes a call, but there should never be a reason [for a resident] to not get the help they need.” To contact Mark McInerney, call his office in COA at 263-8383 ext. 141. If you live in Harambee North, – Between Center Street and Capitol Drive from Holton to 7th Street -contact your Community Partner Shelia Carter at 906-2835 If you live in Harambee South — Between Center Street and the Milwaukee River, Holton Street and Highway 43 – contact your Community Partner Adrian Thomas at 906-2835 Community Partners are primarily funded by Social Development Commission (SDC), Safe and Sound, Weed & Seed, CDBG, and the Brighter Futures Initiative. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 3 – March 2003
by Teresa Gillotti