Detroit's Forrer Street Community- Unifying Neighborhoods Block By Block

Voices of the Community

WWJ News
September 15, 2020 - 4:43 pm
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Welcome to Voice’s in the Community, I’m Lloyd Jackson and today I’m speaking with Yvonne Gibbs one of the leaders of the Forrer Community Block Club Association On Detroit’s west side. We’ll hear how the block club started and how she continues to ensure that her community continues to be a safe and beautiful place for kids, families and seniors to live a grow.

I kicked off my interview with Yvonne as I always do by letting our listeners to get to know her a bit better by starting with a lightening round of questions where she gives me the first answer that comes to mind. I asked Yvonne about her first car First car, Which  was a 1970 Pinto, I asked if she was a Dog or Cat person Yvonne says she prefers Dogs, as far as any hidden talents she has Yvonne says she didn’t have any that she could think of, I asked what her favorite Detroit food was and she says chicken, bar-b-que and soul food, and I asked her if there were any mistakes she’s made that she’s learned from and she says there were too many to count but she has learned from each one of them.

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So before we got into the meat of the interview I wanted Yvonne to let the listeners know where Forrer street is located in the City of Detroit Yvonne. It’s two blocks west of Greeenfield, 12 blocks east of the Southfield freeway, it runs north and south, and it runs several blocks. There are several Forrer block clubs but only one Forrer Community Block Club Association Inc.

Yvonne has been a resident of Detroit all of her 72 years and a resident of Forrer street for 49 years.

The Forrer Community Block Club Association got its start in 1977 but Yvonne was not part of the block club at that time[lj1] . When Yvonne did get involved it was several years ago when she saw the nearby Albert Fields Park was declining and wasn’t being taken care of by the city. She started working with her neighbors to ensure that the park would be regularly mowed and maintained. She later got in contact with the family of Albert Fields and arranged a celebration in the park in his honor. The Neighborhood still keeps in contact with the Fields family to this day.

Yvonne there are so many great block clubs throughout the communities of Detroit and they are the backbone of the neighborhoods. In her area of Forrer street homes had started becoming rental properties, it was during a time when many who lived in the neighborhood were city employees that had lost their jobs.  Housing prices were sky high and many had refinanced and had balloon mortgages and losing homes and the area started changing. Forrer street block club association inc. started working with other block clubs in the area to clean up the area and force bad businesses out of the neighborhood.

Yvonne says area in Detroit with block clubs have more strength to get things done and the city officials tend to listen more closely to their needs. They attend Detroit City Council meetings, meetings with Mayor Mike Duggan…one that was held right in her home on Forrer street. The block clubs wanted the Mayor and City Council to know that it’s more to Detroit than just downtown..the neighborhoods are strong and need help as well.

There was a time when everyone knew their neighbors and would speak to each other and watch out for each other we sort of got away from that ..but by having a block club Yvonne says it helps to bring neighbors together.  She says they work in their yards together they talk to each other and even the neighbors who are renters in the community take pride in their property as if they were homeowners.

Keeping the area safe is another park of a strong block club community.  When a new resident comes in the block clubs meets and greets them and tells them what the block club is about, so they look out for each other. And she says they work closely with the Detroit Police 8th Precinct and when they make a phone call to police, they get quick response. It’s not about nosey neighbors it’s about caring neighbors.

At this time the Forrer Community Block Club is working on getting people out to vote and making sure the census is filled out.

Yvonne has been in Detroit for 72years .. and could have lived somewhere else, but she stayed, and I asked her why and her simple answer was “I love my City”.

When you talk about bringing unity to Detroit Yvonne says block clubs help do that and continue to. One neighbor came to a council meeting and said his area was going down. But by walking the blocks and talking to people he was able to over 400 homes into his block association. So, communication can bring unity to a community.

I asked Yvonne if she had a visitor come to Detroit and she could take them to one place ..what would that place be? She said the Wright Museum of African American History, but she would also bring them to her neighborhood to see the growth going on there.

As far as what she thinks is the biggest misconception about Detroit Yvonne that crime runs ramped in Detroit. She says that is not true and there are good hard-working God-fearing people in Detroit.

Yvonne Gibbs, is one of the leaders of the Forrer Community Block Club Association Inc.  She continues to be one of the pieces of glue that holds her Forrer street community together on the westside of Detroit. Yvonne will be one of 7 women honored during the Power of one Dedicated women virtual awards on Sept 22nd sponsored by the organization “Michigan Community Resources”.

You can find out more about the awards and the women being honored by going the Michigan Community Resources Facebook page or their website www.mi-community.org