Youths clean Gary senior citizens’ apartments
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent May 5, 2012 11:04AM
Manuel Brooks, 13, (left) and his brother Devonte Brooks, 14, both of Crown Point, ride the elevator to the next room with Rep. Vernon G. Smith during the African-American Achievers Youth Corps Inc. annual clean-up at the Al Thomas High Rise in Gary, Ind. Saturday May 5, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 5, 2012 10:00PM
GARY — State Rep. Vernon Smith and members of the African-American Achievers Youth Corps Inc. on Saturday made good on their promise to help residents of the Al Thomas Senior Citizens High-Rise clean their units.
The volunteer effort was to have taken place on Good Friday, as it does annually, but the group postponed the work when a security guard told them the building had a bedbug infestation.
Smith and his volunteers were in the building when Smith canceled it.
Gary Housing Authority interim director Nate Williams and tenant council president Beverly Johnson later called Smith and informed him the building was not infested with bedbugs.
“This is a make-up day for the cleanup,” Smith said while cleaning the windows inside tenant Roosevelt Frazier’s living room.
“We have 16 units on the list compared to the 21 units on Good Friday. And about 10 of my youth members are helping out, as well as volunteers from the Omega Psi Phi Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter.”
Frazier said this was the first time he signed up for the free clean-up.
“I’ve lived here since 2006 and usually a relative comes through and help me clean up my place. But I really appreciate these young guys helping me,” he said.
Mary Shampert stood in the kitchen of her fourth-floor apartment and smiled while the team cleaned.
“I’ve lived here for seven years and knew nothing about the annual free clean-ups. Had I known I would sign up every year,” she said with a laugh.
Volunteer Dierre Williams, 17, is a sophomore at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy.
“I’ve been with the group since I was a middle school student, but this is my first time doing the cleanup,” Williams said. “It feels good to do something in the community.”