An organization known for turning bad neighborhoods into crime-free zones has a new home. The new location is providing a solid foundation for several blockclub projects.
For Councilman James Wright, a house on Varnedoe Street means a lot more than extra office space for the Valdosta Blockclub Federation.
Wright says, "Before this we were using our homes as mailing addresses and stuff like that. Now we actually have offices that people can come by to see us."
But perhaps the best news of all is that the blockclub will be able to call the house home for free, all thanks to a man who donated the building because he believes in what the blockclub is doing for Valdosta.
Dan Gallagher, a philanthropist, says, "I lived in this neighborhood for 10 years and it needs something like this. It desperately does."
His desperation stems from years of dealing with litter and trash in and around the neighborhoods. Councilman Wright says that problem is number one on the blockclub's agenda.
James Wright says, "If you go into a community and you see a lot of paper and trash thrown around and the buildings aren't kept up, you take it as an area no one cares about and that's when the drug dealers come in and gang activity starts."
And that's just one of the reasons the Valdosta Police Department is joining forces with the blockclub in their anti-litter push.
CAPT Brian Childress with the Valdosta Police Department says, "If you have an area that's dirty with a lot of litter and has broken windows, the area needing repair seems to attract crime."
But blockclub members say litter isn't the only problem they are hoping to cure.
Wright adds, "It’s not just one thing we are looking at. We're looking at the whole problem/solution and trying to go in and fix a problem that has existed for years in these areas."
He hopes that fixing that which is broken will mean new jobs, new businesses and new beginnings for many low-income areas of Valdosta.
The blockclub is currently working with VPD to adopt a zero tolerance policy for the city's anti-litter ordinance.