Families invited to Community Giveback Day
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
Toledo: The Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center (SQACC) and the Believe Center are partnering to clean up the Old South End and Broadway Corridor in honor of Dan Roman and Sofia Quintero with a Community Giveback Day on Saturday, May 4, 2013.
Participants are asked to meet at the South Branch Library. The group will fan out and perform a “spring cleaning” of Broadway and South Ave. Supplies and free T-shirts will be provided for volunteers. The effort will run 9:13 am to 2 pm, with a free lunch served at noon at SQACC, 1225 Broadway.
The “give back day” comes from the Believe Center’s motto: “Service to others is the rent we pay for living.” The motto will be printed on the back of the T-shirts.
“Being community leaders in a low-income neighborhood means putting forth creative efforts to assist the beautification of the neighborhood to create pride and the feeling of safety for visitors,” said Juanita Durán, SQACC executive director.
The community cleanup event coincides with the late Sofia Quintero’s birthday, which was May 5 each year. Ms. Durán hopes to have a birthday cake during lunch. The event starts at 9:13 a.m., which coincides with the late Dan Roman’s birthday. Both were well-respected community leaders who gave extensively of their time to benefit Latino kids.
Dan Roman was a youth baseball and football coach for a number of years at Danny Thomas Park. The upper field at the park is now named after him, something a lot of people don’t know. Roman coached both of Juanita’s brothers when they were in elementary school. Both boys are now in their 20s.
Roman died of cancer during baseball season. But just before he passed away, he was able to attend the championship game his team played that season.
“It felt like a game from the movie ‘Hardball,’” recalled Ms. Durán. “He was able to leave the hospital and come to the game and got to see the boys win the championship game. I remember crying. He looked pretty sickly from the cancer.”
She hopes to draw 75 volunteers, each of whom will receive a free T-shirt. The volunteers will include board members from both centers. Volunteers also will pass out door hangers from the Clean Sweep effort from the city’s code enforcement division, informing residents how they can have unwanted paint, appliances and other large items picked up. The only item that won’t be picked up is old tires.
“We hope to accomplish neighbor awareness about the community, that it is a safe neighborhood and we want to keep it clean as well,” said Ms. Durán. “There’s a lot of debris and things of that sort along the main streets. We hope the neighbors will take pride in their neighborhood and come clean up.”
The other importance of the cleanup involves I-75 as a gateway to the community for passing motorists, as well as the Broadway Corridor as a gateway to downtown Toledo. First impressions are big on the city’s visitors.
“My biggest thing is when people come off I-75 to South Avenue, I would like that part of the neighborhood cleaned up as well,” said Ms. Durán. “It’s important for visitors to not feel ‘Oh my gosh; I’m in this bad neighborhood so let’s drive a little faster.’ We don’t want to give that image.”
The cleanup will be coupled with another summer outdoor mural effort at the end of May. SQACC volunteers will join Bowling Green State University art students and nationally-known artist Mario Torero, who led a similar effort last year along the Broadway Corridor. The group is targeting Danny Thomas Park, as well as the rear wall of the Quintero Center. There may be others, time and weather permitting.
“We want to create a warm environment for people to be in awe,” explained Ms. Durán.