When Sherri Zeitler moved to her new Columbus neighborhood, South Central Commons, from Northern Michigan, she fell in love with her community and the neighbors who lived there. She wanted to not only help ensure it stayed safe and beautiful, but get to know the wonderful people who lived around her.
So, she immediately involved herself in the neighborhood block watch and community garden. Over the past three years, each has thrived thanks to her support and collaboration with her community.
The block watch
One day shortly after moving in, Sherri was walking down her street and saw used hypodermic needles on the ground. She passed by a mother on the sidewalk pushing a stroller and knew something needed to be done to make their community safer. She talked to several neighbors and realized there had been many past conversations about starting a block watch but nothing had come to fruition. Since she was new to the neighborhood, Sherri decided to take this project on to help her community and get to know more neighbors.
She connected with the police department to get started and rallied more neighbors to get involved by walking around the neighborhood, introducing herself, and passing out flyers. It started small, with just a few neighbors occasionally getting together to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and unsafe garbage on the street.
Over time, the group blossomed into an organization of more than 30 neighbors who get together on a regular basis to take walks and keep an eye on the community, organize community-wide clean ups, cut down dangerous fallen trees or limbs, secure vacant homes, host informational meetings, and offer educational resources to other neighbors to help them take care of their property.
The community garden
In addition to the block watch, which ensures the community is clean and safe, Sherri has also worked with dozens of neighbors to start a community garden. South Central Commons has wanted a community garden for years – it was started once, but the neighbor who organized the effort broke his ankle and could no longer lead the garden initiative.
So, Sherri jumped in again and rallied more neighbors and the garden transformed. Sherri wanted to make sure every member of the community, both young and old, felt included and encouraged parents to get their kids involved. As a result, the first garden plots and seeds were planted by the community’s youth, all under the age of 12. Since then, more and more neighbors have volunteered their time to help. A group of them now meet once a month to maintain the garden, with the help of regular postings on Nextdoor.
Sherri’s neighbor Michelle M. says, “For three years, Sherri has dedicated her life to volunteering and improving our community. Daily she is out there walking and picking up trash, meeting new neighbors, growing the block watch, creating and maintaining the community garden, and securing vacant homes. Every day, this wonderful women gives back to her community in so many ways.”
Being the humble, good neighbor that she is, Sherri says none of the goodness her projects bring to the community could be done without her supportive and caring neighbors. “It is entirely a group effort,” says Sherri. “My role is no more important than every other single neighbor who is involved. We are all family and they go so far beyond the call of duty to get the job done. I will always be beyond grateful for them.”
Congratulations to Sherri, and her South Central Commons neighbors, for working together to make their neighborhood an even better place to call home.