New initiative aims to empower Durham's McDougald Terrace community
Posted June 15
Durham, N.C. — McDougald Terrace is Durham's largest public housing community, but retired police chief Steve Chalmers said it too often has a negative perception.
Chalmers said he sees many people in the community who want to make it better and sometimes feel forgotten.
"What we try to do is actually utilize existing resources and maximize those resources before we start trying to buy and create new programs," Chalmers said.
His initiative tackles five areas: economic development, education, health and wellness, law enforcement and mentoring recreation. He calls the initiative “Stone Soup."
"The overall goal really is to make the resources available to the community and then empower the community to try to come together and actually take advantage of those resources and really address the issues that they feel are causing them to not be able to live the quality of life that they desire," Chalmers said.
Countless groups that work in those areas have signed on to get involved.
"I think it's a beautiful thing and I think it's something that the community really needs," Chalmers said.
Ora Mae Smith lives in McDougald Terrace with her two sons, ages 13 and 15. She said her family will greatly benefit from this initiative.
"That we all could unite together and it would stop some of the violence that is over here and it would bring lots of support to the community," she said.
That community buy-in is what Chalmers believes will make the program so successful.
"One thing that we've promised the community is that we will not come into the community and start making decisions on what's going to happen in the community without them at the table," Chalmers said. "We're going to be marching, actually, to their beat."
Even though the program's starting in McDougald Terrace, organizers hope to expand it to other areas. The official launch party for it is Saturday at noon at McDougald Terrace.