YWCA discussion focuses on peace in West Center City
As part of Peace Week, the YWCA of Delaware led a discussion Wednesday night about creating a more peaceful atmosphere in Wilmington’s West Center City neighborhood.
The group’s Director of Racial and Social Justice Matthew Pillischer says it was the first community conversation they’ve held about the neighborhood in which their transitional housing center is located.
“We want to make sure that the community knows who we are, what we do, but also we want to make sure we’re a part of bettering this community," Pillischer said.
The discussion was held at the YWCA’s Home-Life Management Center, which provides emergency and transitional housing to residents like Vickie Wise.
Wise told concerned community members Wednesday the hours of the William “Hicks” Anderson Community Center right down the street from the housing facility haven’t been consistent.
That’s been a problem for her 16-year-old son, who can only enter the YWCA’s housing space when Wise is present. When the community center is closed and his mom’s at work, he has nowhere to go.
“Sometimes when I’m working or whatever and he’ll call me and tell me ‘Mom the center’s closed.’ So I’d have to make a u-turn or whatever and come back and get him," Wise said. "And then one time the center was closed and he was out there in the cold and he was freezing closed and I didn’t get off work until 5 o’clock. I just want the center to be open a little longer so that he can be ok and safe while I’m working.”
That’s something those listening to Wise on Wednesday say needs to change. Ed Klinge and his wife Jo helped develop plans over a decade ago to revitalize the neighborhood, but they aren't sure how grant funds were even spent.
"People in the community were coming together to make this happen because they believed in it," Klinge said.
Klinge feels it's possible to bring the community together again, but wants the changes to be permanent and not dependent on grant funding that runs out every few years. Pillischer said it could take more work to repair eroded trust from residents who've been promised change but haven't seen real progress in one of Wilmington's most violent neighborhoods.
The YWCA plans to hold another meeting at the “Hicks” Anderson Center soon to hear input from more residents like Wise about changes they’d like to see in West Center City.