Published On: Mon, Jun 4th, 2018

Putting the Community in Community Improvement

Although Mother’s Day is in our rearview mirror, I need to take a moment and wish all our mothers a happy belated Mother’s Day.

I would’ve done so in last week’s column but I was forced to change my topic at press time after learning of the passing of longtime Delray Beach police officer and community servant Sgt. Rev. Matthew “Bump” Mitchell.

To say the least, I thank God for all mothers in their respective places, whether you are a birth mother, a caregiver, a surrogate, godmother, grandmother or just someone who is there for a child when love is needed.

Lest I forget, you are incredible, multifaceted, magnificent, and wise, and I thank God for filling all mothers’ heart with love as well as for instilling in them the need to protect their children whenever possible.

Just days after we celebrated Mother’s Day, a friend called to say that a mother and her child were evicted from their apartment and had nowhere to go. They wanted to know if I had any resources to help or knew where they could turn to for assistance.

The child had missed a few days of school, which concerned the principal. Upon learning of the crisis, the director of the city’s Community Improvement Department, my friend, Capt. Michael Coleman, decided to do what he does best – help the less fortunate.

He tasked a few employees with coming up with a solution and they reached out to their contacts across the city. The operator of one of the more reputable recovery centers provided shelter for a week, and our friend, Pedro Andrade of Anthony’s Pizza, fed them dinner. The local WalMart also gave them groceries. Coleman even gave the child $5 and challenged her not to miss another day.

This is the second time in recent months that the Delray Beach Community Improvement Department team has rallied to the aid of a local resident who was down on her luck.

The mother of two had been evicted and employees found her temporary shelter, got her groceries and $80 gas for her sports utility vehicle.

Over the last three years, that department has been more than ga roup of public servants who enforce city codes, hammer property owners for aesthetic infractions or provide monies for residents who need to give their homes a facelift.

They have become social workers who have literally taken the term community improvement to another level. It is not unusual to find department employees installing decorative street light posts on West Atlantic Avenue, a stretch along the city’s major east west corridor, which had been ignored for years.

The workers are also charged with keeping the streets downtown clean. In fact, their unofficial motto is “making our downtown cleaner than a whistle, just like Disney World.”

It is no surprise why so many other cities across the county and neighboring counties are using the city’s Community Improvement Department as a model. As they often say, “they get it right in Delray Beach.”

C.Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@Delraybeachtribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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