Jeanna Daniel was fed up.
Graffiti dotted every street of her neighborhood in southwest Oklahoma City. Drug dealers and users went to the neighborhood park more than children did, she said. Trash was strewed everywhere.
Daniel was sick of it all, so she started to organize.
The police gang unit came in. Residents banded together to form the Riverpark Neighborhood Association. Daniel won grant money and recruited volunteers. The park transformed, along with the rest of the neighborhood. Crime dropped. A children's soccer league was formed. Nearly 100 homes have been rehabbed.
What's left, she said, is something new.
“You would never know the changes that have happened there,” said Daniel, 52. “Nothing happens overnight. It's been a lot of work. We've been successful because of that.”
Now the Riverpark Neighborhood is a finalist for the 2011 Neighborhood of the Year Award from Neighborhoods, USA, a national nonprofit group. The winner will be announced May 27 at the national conference, which will be in Anchorage, Alaska.
Riverpark is the first Oklahoma neighborhood that has been named a finalist for the award, said Georgie Rasco, executive director of Neighborhood Alliance of Central
The group needs help getting there, Rasco said. They need to raise about $4,000 to make the trip to the conference for the
Riverpark was developed in the 1940s and is from SW 24 to SW 29 and from Portland to Tulsa avenues. The average home in Riverpark sells for about $37,000, Rasco said.
Riverpark shows that neighbors who work together can improve their community, regardless of income, Rasco said.
“It is literally nothing short of miraculous what they've done,” she said. “In Oklahoma City, we pull together as neighbors. ... We go out there and create the kind of neighborhood we want to have.”
HOW TO HELP
The Riverpark Neighborhood Association needs to raise about $4,000 to make the trip to Alaska for the national conference. Donations are tax deductible and may be sent to Neighborhood Alliance, 1236 NW 35, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Earmark gifts with “Alaska.” Donations also can be made at www.nacok.org.