TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – Willie Crowell feels as though a person’s yard is like a first impression. She lives on a busy road in Tuscaloosa, and her porch is covered in potted flowers. But last year, it became difficult to keep up with yard work when her husband got sick.
“He was diagnosed with colon cancer and it spread to his brain,” Crowell said. “So he was just unable to do anything.” The majority Crowell’s time and thoughts were devoted to her husband and his health, and the upkeep of the yard became an afterthought until she heard about the Hope Initiative’s week of service projects. Crowell decided to call and see if she could get some help, and was shocked when Tuscaloosa’s mayor Walt Maddox and chief of police Steve Anderson showed up at her home.
“It’s important,” said Maddox. “We work for the people of this community. We want to show them we care, and we’re dedicated to it. We’re going to be involved and we want them to be involved.”
The Hope Initiative started back in 2008. Maddox says it was in response to a rash of homicides. “It struck all of us that if we were going to truly reverse the trends of crime, poverty, and blight we were going to need help from the institution that’s on every corner of this city, and that’s our churches.”
But Maddox and city leaders knew that the churches couldn’t do it all on their own, either. A partnership formed between city government, the police department, and the faith organizations. Whenever possible, they all work together to plant little seeds of hope in places of need in the community.
This year, the chief and mayor returned to Willie Crowell’s house to help out, again. Her husband passed away in November, and she hasn’t been able to do much of the yard work. “I told my grandson, do you know that’s the mayor and chief of police and some of his assistants out there?” Crowell said. “I thought that was just something very unusual…and it’s good. I appreciate that.”
The work at Crowell’s house was just one in about 50 projects going on across the community this week. Anderson describes it as everything from repairing a roof to building handicapped ramps. “This is important because the community has done so much for me and for the mayor,” Anderson said, “and so it’s our way of giving back and showing the community that we appreciate their support.”
The “Week of Hope”, as it’s been called, ended on Sunday, but Maddox says there are always ways that people can further the spirit of the Hope Initiative. You can learn more at this website: http://www.tuscaloosahope.com/
Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News