published Friday, August 5th, 2011

Rallies mark return to school

A row of boarded-up, vacant apartments line Heaton Street in the Harriet Tubman housing development in this file photo.
A row of boarded-up, vacant apartments line Heaton Street in the Harriet Tubman housing development in this file photo.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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IF YOU GO


Back to school rallies:

• Hardy Elementary School, 2100 Glass St., 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

• The World Restoration Center, 4004 Dorris St., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday

• East Lake Recreation Center, 3601 Dodds Ave., 2-5 p.m. Saturday

Parents in a public housing site that's expected to be sold or demolished still are working to improve their community.

"We're not gone yet, and we're going to work with this community until the doors are all closed," said Anita Pickett, executive secretary for the resident association at the Harriet Tubman public housing development.

The Chattanooga Housing Authority, which owns Harriet Tubman, has decided to try to sell the 440-unit complex or, if that is not possible, to tear it down.

Pickett and several nonprofit organizations are sponsoring a back-to-school rally Saturday at Hardy Elementary School for youth from Harriet Tubman and other inner-city communities.

The bash is among several rallies scheduled to support youths this weekend.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Anita Pickett, left, and Guannia Gilliam pack school supplies Friday morning to be given to school children in the Harriet Tubman Housing Development site.

"Kids are frustrated about a lack of employment. Some of them have low self-esteem," said the Rev. William C. Simpson, pastor of the Kingdom Harvest Church. "We want to uplift their spirits and encourage them that there is a more positive and better way."

His church is sponsoring a summer bash at the East Lake Recreation Center on Dodds Avenue. Church members will distribute school supplies, give door prizes and provide food. Musician T-Ran Gilbert and rapper Big Mike Mic will perform.

The World Restoration Center Church on Dorris Street also is distributing school supplies Saturday.

At the Harriet Tubman event, residents' children will get new uniforms, book bags and school supplies. Uniforms also will be provided for children living in other inner-city neighborhoods, Pickett said.

The uniforms and supplies come through a partnership with the Harriet Tubman Resident Association and several organizations, including the Community Foundation, Hamilton County Department of Education, Choice Promise Zone and the Ochs Center.

SunTrust bank representatives will talk to parents about saving money and officials with local initiative Read 20 will promote the importance of reading.

But this isn't just a book drive, Pickett said. The goal is to push children out of poverty by making sure they have all they need for a good education, she said.

It's been a disappointing year for Harriet Tubman residents. In September 2010, they learned that Chattanooga had been passed over for a U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood grant expected to improve education for inner-city youth.

Then in March 2011, CHA officials announced that so many buildings at Harriet Tubman were in such ill repair, it would sell or demolish the housing development rather than repair it.

Residents say they are not discouraged.

"You've got to keep going, no matter what," said Harriet Tubman Resident Association Treasurer Sharon Glover. "As long as God gives us strength, we're going to work."

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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