Neighborhood cleanups to continue


Staff Writer

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Rocky Mount native is urging city residents to help him try to make communities around town more aesthetically pleasing.

Jabaris “JKelly” Walker, 27, started a forum last year called “Project Diamond in the Rough,” that featured him hosting an anti-violence event last summer at Ebenezer Baptist Church in an effort to seek out the help of the community in reducing violent crime. The event featured the church’s pastor, the Rev. Thomas L. Walker, N.C. Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office.

Also last August, Walker started an initiative called “Project Diamond in the Rough Neighborhood Cleanup,” in which he and some local residents organized cleanup days in the Hillsdale, Weeks Armstrong and Holly Street communities. Walker is again launching the cleanup events this year starting again in the Hillsdale community on May 5.

Walker said the goal is to perform the neighborhood cleanup events twice a month. Walker’s aim is to try to clean up every neighborhood in Rocky Mount on both sides of town by the end of the summer. 

As an avid jogger in the community, Walker said, he sees a lot of trash in areas like Hillsdale. where he mainly grew up. and other neighborhoods around Rocky Mount. Even though he picks up and throws away the trash, Walker knows there is a benefit in organizing community cleanup outings.

“I feel like the residents should come out and clean up so they can take care of the communities that they stay in,” Walker said. “This is one of the best ways to do it, and this also allows people to exercise, move around, work together, get to know each other and build a better base on how we can make Rocky Mount better as a whole.”

Walker graduated from Rocky Mount High School in 2008, earned an associate degree at Nash Community College and a bachelor’s degree at N.C. Wesleyan College. A youth case manager in the area, Walker also served in U.S. Army where he spent some time deployed in Afghanistan. He said the time away made him more grateful and appreciative about living in the United States and left him wanting to make a difference in his hometown.

Walker said people must be willing to be involved in their community in order to see more positive change happen in Rocky Mount and the Twin Counties.

“We just need more people to get active in the community,” Walker said. “I think people can do more to be active in the community — instead of sitting at home complaining, you could really have boots on the ground. I want to make it better here for the generation behind me. It doesn’t always have to be through TV, but there are certain things you can do to change your community. You can impact your community by doing neighborhood cleanups.”