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Community members working together to improve Eureka

EUREKA- A grassroots group of Eureka residents are working together to build a safer, more livable community, as the third annual Community Created Jefferson Meeting was held on Thursday night.   

The Westside Community Improvement Association organizes the meetings. The first two meetings focused on what additional activities could come to the Jefferson Community Center.  However, at Thursday night’s meeting, community issues were addressed.

"Crime, the drug problems here in eureka are really problematic," said Charles Smith, who lives in Eureka.

"They're concerned about the blight in their neighborhoods.  They don't like the graffiti.  The traffic in the alleys," said Captain Brian Stephens, who attended the meeting.

"Food security is another issue in the community, making sure people have healthy meals and know how to get good food and so forth and activity, community activities," said Richard Evans, the Vice President of the Board of the Westside Community Improvement Association.

Others want to see more of a neighborhood watch presence in the west side of Eureka.

“Mainly, what I would love to see is us to build on the positive, to work on that persistent presence that we can have in this area and build a unity, a consciousness, if you will, of all of us neighbors looking out for each other and helping each other out," said Clare Vettes of Eureka.

There were four breakout sessions residents separated into at the meeting.  One centered around the homelessness issue. A founder of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, Nezzie Wade, talked about possible solutions people came up with at the meeting.

"Better educational opportunities here, maybe teaching people more about life skills and ways to take better care of the community and themselves," said Wade.

The process of solving these problems has just begun.

"The information that we got tonight is all going to be filtered through to come up with one concern, one problem that we will be working on for the remainder of the year to find a viable solution," said Heidi Benzonelli, the President of the Westside Community Improvement Association.  "We're going to be starting to reach out to local decision makers and other community partners and putting together this strategic plan.”

To implement the plan, in about a year, the California Center for Rural Policy will apply for a fund through the Saint Joseph Health Community Partnership Fund.

"When a community identifies the problem, identifies the solution and works together to implement that solution, then they own it, they've done it, they've created it," Benzonelli said.