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what a weed and seed community

Weed & Seed leader gives neighborhoods healthy shot to grow

Shevelle Porter does not know much about football although she coordinates a program that needed to purchase equipment so children in a low-income neighborhood could play football this summer.

She has experience in government work, and her son has not played much football. He’s only 2 years old.

Porter, however, does not have to know about the sport. She has a lot of help from a growing number of people working with the Weed & Seed program in Spartanburg.

Her job is to bring them together.

The idea of Weed & Seed sounds simple. First, neighborhood problems such as drugs and violent crime will be “weeded” out of a 3.1-square-mile area on Spartanburg’s south side and in the Arkwright community. Second, programs will “seed” improvement such as job training and after-school enrichment.

The multi-faceted initiative is complicated, involving dozens of programs developed by the community’s residents, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, business owners, nonprofit agencies, spiritual leaders and city and county staff.

Their shared dream for revitalization came together in a lengthy, detailed application for federal Weed & Seed funds that won $225,000 in federal support less than a year ago.

Then, Porter was hired as program coordinator. She began work three months ago to help the dream come true.

“When Shevelle came, that’s when things began to come together,” said Jerline Stewart, co-chairwoman of the “seed” committee.

Porter’s job ranges from tracking expenditures to visiting programs to whatever it takes to make sure plans actually happen.

“It’s not a 9-5 job,” said the suburban Chicago native. Porter said she eats, sleeps and breathes Weed & Seed.

The hours are more irregular than her previous position with the city of Spartanburg’s Community Development Department.

The 33-year-old comes into her office at City Hall in midmorning to go over the sticky notes on her desk of things to do. She then returns telephone calls and reviews invoices. If a Dumpster and law enforcement officers are needed at a neighborhood cleanup, she makes those arrangements..

By afternoon, she visits Safe Havens, places that host community enrichment programs. She takes a pad, pencil and clipboard to jot down the needs of organizers. She may stop to chat with a few teens about what to wear to a job interview.

Evenings include neighborhood watch and Weed & Seed steering committee meetings.

Porter also may work weekends, going with youths on a cleanup project where too many food wrappers, beer bottles and other garbage have trashed a site.

The program is a priority with Porter. It’s not just a job. It’s a part of her life. At one point, she even moved her 2-year-old’s stroller to the front seat of her car so she could transport learning software for a Weed & Seed-supported project.

Why? Because she believes Weed & Seed programs work.

Just getting more football uniforms — one aspect of the program — will enable more children to get involved in a healthy activity, said Sgt. Reggie Miller of the Spartanburg Public Safety Department.

“We don’t have to turn away anybody,” Miller said.

Teresa Killian can be reached at 562-7216 or [email protected]

About $225,000 awarded this year for a federally funded Weed & Seed program has been put toward programs to “weed” out problems such as crime, violence and drug activity and “seed” community development programs to empower about 6,000 residents of south-side and Arkwright communities.

Bicycles have been purchased for community policing officers.

Officers have been paid overtime to work with the area in such ways as helping with a youth offender neighborhood cleanup.

Other money will be used to concentrate additional narcotics investigations in the area through overtime and purchase of equipment.

Trash bags have been purchased for community clean-ups. Snacks and incentives have also been purchased.

Four sites have been designated as safe places to host empowerment programs. Some of the ways the grant already has helped:

C.C. Woodson Center

Purchases have included two computers, a TV and VCR, football equipment, basketballs for Police Athletic League and sports and law programs.

Community Baptist Church in Arkwright

Equipment for youth softball and football has been ordered. Work has begun to acquire playground equipment. Computer equipment has been installed, and a computer lab program launched through the efforts of volunteers.

An instructor was hired to work with kids in the afternoons in the computer lab. A youth apprenticeship program to help young offenders was launched. Workbooks and computer supplies also were purchased.

A program planner for the site was funded. Purchases included reading materials, supplies for youth programs including paper, pencils and notebooks, board games for small children. Funds also were set aside for field trips.

Weed and Seed Program

Paving the Way was very proud to be in collaboration with the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster City Code Enforcement Agency along with probation, parole and several private non-profit organizations for the Department of Justice ‘s Weed and Seed Strategy which was designed to help prevent, control and reduce violent crimes in a target area. The area serviced was located between Ave H (north) to Ave J (south) 20th Street West to 30th Street East. The strategy did not only weed out the gangs and drug activity within these communities but it seeded back into the community resources that revitalized and rehabilitated those communities.


Central Lancaster weed and seed site

Department of Justice of the United States of America-2 years, and because of ALL our hard work, we continue to be an Officially Recognized Site.