FARRELL Marchers 'take back the streets'
The organizer said some Sharon neighborhoods were having barbecues and turning on their lights to show support for the movement.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
FARRELL, Pa. -- Monica Moncries felt it was important to show that people of all ages can join together for a common cause, so she brought her 5-month-old son along for the local version of National Night Out.
Yasha Hampton Moncries got to ride in a stroller pushed by his mom along the half-hour route Tuesday that roughly followed the Farrell-Sharon border.
"We need to have unity in our community," said Moncries, who lives on Hamilton Avenue, moments before the walk began at the offices of Endorse Resistance of All Substance Abuse Everywhere (ERASE), a local anti-drug coalition, at 901 Fruit Ave.
About 80 people -- young and old, black and white -- turned out for the march to "take back the streets" from criminals and drug abusers.
Not all of the activity was on the march.
Olive Brown, ERASE executive director, said she got calls from two residential areas in Sharon that reported they were having neighborhood barbecues and were turning on their lights to show support for the effort.
People were encouraged to turn on their outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police from 7 to 10 p.m. Brown said.
The march went north on Fruit Avenue, west on George Street, south on Wallis Avenue and west on Idaho Street to Spearman Avenue with participants singing and chanting along the way.
They called out to people they knew standing in doorways along the route, inviting them to "Put on your shoes and come join us."
Cierra Harden, 15, of Baldwin Avenue, Sharon, lined up for the walk from the start with one girlfriend, and another joined them a few blocks later on Fruit Avenue.
Word gets out
This shows that the churches can get together and do some good, Harden said, a reference to ERASE's plea to local pastors to encourage their congregations to participate.
There are many ways to get the message out that people want their streets to be safe, Harden said, adding, "I think this is a good way to do it."
There were other municipalities represented on the march.
Ken Robertson, mayor of Sharpsville, was among those making the hike.
"I'm a member of ERASE," he said. "This is my community, in the broader scheme of things. I always say that Sharpsville is my neighborhood but the Shenango Valley is my community."
"I'm hoping we'll be able to make a difference in this area," said Betty Knauff of Trout Island Road, Hermitage.
She said she has done international mission work through her church but recently came to realize that "our mission can be right here in the Valley to take back what the enemy has stolen."
The Rev. Keith Banks, pastor of Pentecostal House of Prayer on Fruit Avenue, was joined on the march by two of his deacons, Emmett Joseph Sewell and Lando Greene, both of Hermitage.
The churches have been invited to participate in the Farrell-Sharon Weed & amp; Seed program designed to take back the streets from the criminal element and rebuild neighborhoods, Banks said.
"Today, we wanted to turn out in support of Weed & amp; Seed in this community," he added.
The marchers were met at Spearman Avenue by the Rev. Wilbert Hadden, pastor of Greater Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, which was holding a tent service near the Idaho Street intersection.
"This is a pretty good street. We're going to build on this street," he told the marchers, adding, "The devil's not going to stop God's people from doing his work."