By Gloria Zuurveen
Memphis, TN—Parent Action Coalition for Education (PACE), a 501 c(3) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California, goes national with its GLORY AWARDS this year. Instead of its annual gala of only featuring “Light Leaders” from Los Angeles, PACE traveled to one of the most blighted areas in South Memphis to light up the lives of residents who cannot afford to cut their grass or to do other yard maintenance for themselves due to disability or being elderly thus presenting a glorious community award to them by donating landscaping services.
Ms. Francis, one recipient, said, “Ms. Glory, I am so grateful for what you are doing. I was afraid to go out in my backyard because of snakes and raccoons out there.” “I have a son but he is disabled and is not able to do the yard for me.”
For the GLORY AWARDS this year, instead of going virtual online, we decided to literally take it to the streets and help shine a light and to eliminate blight in South Memphis and to help youth and young adults in the process like with Ms. Francis and her young adult Autistic son who is not able to help his mother. The GLORY AWARDS this year goes to our workers who help make this “miracle” happen.
Ms. Francis said it was for her a miracle to have this done for her and now she can enjoy her back yard unlike it was before the local heroes showed up at her door with lawnmowers, weed eater and rakes to do what they know. Gregory Gray and Floyd Banks, this year’s local heroes and “Light Leaders”, are lighting the way literally for others to enjoy their homes inside and out by using their landscaping and gardening skills to bring others a glorious thrill. According to a letter written and signed by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, Mark H. Luttrell, Jr. Mayor, Shelby County, David Lenoir Trustee, Shelby County and George Cates Chairman, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. from the Memphis Neighborhood Blight Elimination Charter in 2015 they said, “The crisis of blight in Memphis and Shelby County affects thousands of families every year. Vacant and nuisance properties attract crime while depressing property values, driving up taxes, and repelling vital private investment. The resulting downward spiral of dereliction smothers the economic prosperity of our entire metropolitan area.
This situation has many causes and contributing factors, and will require an equal number of innovative and dedicated solutions.” “Simply put, we know that doing more of the same will only produce the same unacceptable outcomes we have endured for decades. Focusing on what works, developing new strategies, and above all, working together as we move forward will produce the blight-free future for Memphis that we seek.”
Parent Action Coalition for Education (PACE) “Mowers for Memphis” is a new strategy and we are working together with the help of Gray and Banks collaborating with PACE inaugural program whereby youth and young adults will be provided with livable wage vocational skills which will help them to learn a trade as well as to teach them how to manage and pay their bills. PACE “Mowers for Memphis” is proposing to help eliminate blight by training and developing youth and young adults how to operate their own landscaping and gardening businesses, financial literacy and overall economic sufficiency.
With the skills learned, South Memphis youth and young adults will take pride in their own neighborhoods and they will be direct participants and contributors in eliminating blight by shining their lights to make their South Memphis neighborhoods, lovable, livable and right.
All Photos by Gregory Gray