You Are the Village
Mama Shu, Highland Park Mayor Yopp, and community youth cut the ribbon on Avalon Village’s Homework House –September 23rd, 2016
September 23, 2016 was a big day for us. An emotional day. It was Jakobi RA’s ancestor date – the anniversary of the death of Mama Shu’s 2 year old son – who was killed by a hit and run driver in 2007. It was also the date we officially dedicated Jakobi RA park and celebrated our Grand Opening weekend to show off the progress in the village thus far.
Friday night, a big crowd gathered as the sun was setting. We held an opening ceremony complete with drums, dancing, and a stilt walker who entertained the crowd. With family, friends, neighbors and loved ones all around, Mama Shu officially unveiled the headstone she first put on layaway 9 years ago. It now proudly sits in Jakobi RA park where her baby son’s spirit remains.
“You can actually build from a broken heart,” Mama Shu says. “You can actually rebuild. You can feel better and turn grief into joy. You can turn it into something useful for your community. It’s healing. It’s been a healing journey for me – a long healing journey – and it’s not over. But as long as I build, and as long as I do what we’re doing here in our village, the healing just goes on.”
A ribbon cutting ceremony was also held at the Homework House with Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp, representatives from Ako Building Corporation, the Highland Park-based company overseeing construction, and LUMA Resources, the Rochester Hills-based company donating and installing a solar roof which will offset the house’s electricity costs. A star student and Hood Camp participant did the honors, cutting the ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors.
“We welcome you. We thank you. This is your village,” Mayowa Reynolds told the crowd. “Community is about people – it’s not about buildings or structures. It’s about people. Families? They’re about people and relationships. You are the village.”
The fun-filled weekend also included a school supply giveaway. More than 100 donated backpacks and school supplies including pencils, paper, notebooks, calculators and other items were handed out to local children. Sunday featured a movie in Jakobi RA park with a showing of Fat Albert and the Gang from the old Cosby series complete with popcorn, hot dogs and soda. All events were free and open to the public.