Volunteer workers shovel sand and dirt in the background. At the bottom, the rock symbolizes another project in which teens and kids of the community will write of their dreams and passions.
Courtesy: Psalms Rojas

Sometimes called “Afghanistan,” the corner of Glenfinnan and Sixth tends to have a stigma in the Azusa community. However, many people there have a greater vision for the neighborhood.

Saturday, community members, a teen outreach program, a local church, APU students and Mayor Joe Rocha all set out to work and clean up the neighborhood through Project REViVE. Many of these workers came in bright and early to pick up trash and relocate rocks.

The founder of the project, Adrian Greer, is an APU alumnus who plans to see this place as a “neighborhood where people are open.” My Third Place, a teen outreach program started by Greer, partnered up with The Gathering, a local church, to help execute this day.

“We as a community can do better than this,” said Greer. “So, we decided to get together and get something done.”

More than 250 workers attended the morning shift. Among these workers, Rocha was seen shoveling sand and dirt and getting dirty. Alongside the mayor, various APU students came to help out at the event through the City Links program that all freshmen are required to take.

James Burke, a pastor at The Gathering, has been working alongside Greer and his foundation for nearly three years.

“We have a vision of community reconciliation both physically and back to Christ,” Burke said. “There have been countless hours put into planning this event, but being able to see the response of the community was just absolutely amazing.”

As the day progressed into the afternoon shift, APU students worked arduously alongside members of the community toward this goal of reconciliation.

“This is a gathering of a community that wants to improve their living area. Adrian has big plans and he has brought hope into this small neighborhood,” said Alma Cook, a member of the Project REViVE team.

Many people in the community want better living conditions and long for a safer place for their children.

“Many kids are ashamed to say that they live on Sixth Street,” junior political science major Emily Ayala said. “However, this neighborhood cares about its image. It only takes one person to make a difference and start something anew.”

Greer hopes to encourage and bring awareness to the community of Azusa about this issue. In collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, he plans to rebuild a structure in the area and turn it into a recreational center for the teenagers and children in the vicinity.

“I have been worried because of the violence and dirtiness of this neighborhood,” said Susana Pineda, a local resident.I see these things and it takes away my motivation. But I am happy that someone has stepped up and worried about us.”

There are also plans to make this event not only an annual gathering, but more of an opportunity to “get the kids out and caring for their neighborhood,” according to Greer.

“Let the weeds be a reminder to come together and break bread again and again,” he said.