Jimmy Knows Community Ownership
Heâ€™s a young guy in his mid-twenties who lives in a local rooming house. Heâ€™s had some bad breaks health wise and has been subjected to judgment by appearance. But he has the heart of a lion and the compassion of a monk. His name is Jimmy Ertel and heâ€™s this weekâ€™s Community Hero.
Iâ€™ve personally known Jimmy for about three years, first as a next-door neighbor and most recently as a community activist. Jimmy suffers from seizures and both mental and physical disabilities that have caused him to be viewed as someone who folks judge as unable to contribute much to his community. As a matter of fact, just recently he was thrown out of a local business when he went in to ask for change for the bus, followed by a sidewalk beating by one of its employees. He was judged by his appearance and not his heart or commitment to his community.
In the past year, Jimmy has become an integral part of Johnson Park community activism, assuring the greenspace is kept clear of individuals attempting to use the spot for drinking, public urination and sleeping. These issues affect the young kids in the neighborhood, keeping them from using the park as a play area. Some folks walk by them â€śtsk-tsingâ€ť like â€śpigeons with tap shoesâ€ť as Whoopi Goldberg once said, others call 911, and still others go up to them and request they move on.
Jimmy is the guy that performs the latter. In fact, there was one incident where one of the vagrants I was attempting to move along was giving me some very loud backtalk. Within seconds I heard a voice behind me. â€śThe lady asked you to move on. This park is for kids to play in, not you to drink and pass out in.â€ť It was Jimmy, and the guy got up and left the area.
On weekends, when most neighbors are sleeping, Jimmy is out with our crime watch group, established by another renter in our area, Nakita Brim. His dad also joins us as we sit in the park from 10:30 PM to 2:30 AM, phones at the ready to call police if needed. The renters outnumber the homeowners in this effort, proving that those who rent also take the safety and security of their neighborhood to heart. No one is compensated for their efforts, but we have forged strong friendships as a result of the group and have learned a thing or two about judging someone from their appearance only.
Jimmy doesnâ€™t have to take part in the solutions for our community. He has been subjected to the judgments of those who cannot see past â€śskin-deepâ€ť or where a person lives. But, Iâ€™ll take a neighbor and friend like Jimmy over those other guys anytime. He understands the need for neighbors to work together and kicks into high gear for anyone who needs a hand. Heâ€™s definitely my community hero for this week and the future.
Authorâ€™s note: If you have someone that needs to be recognized, contact me via e-mail: MRodgersFCS@msn.com