Foxwood Heights Neighborhood group will meet at 4 p.m. today at Eastdale Recreation Center, 1314 Moss St.
Isabella Lane labored nearly four decades as a Memorial Hospital nurse and surgical technician, retired in her mid-60s and worked another decade as president of Foxwood Heights neighborhood association.
And when it comes time to fight for her neighborhood, the great-grandmother does not back down.
In 2010 when two fatal shootings happened in less than two months at the corner of Wilcox and Tunnel boulevards, Lane and other residents went to the shooting site, spoke with the property owner and his attorney and led community forums to alleviate violence.
And in 2012 after a gang-related shooting at Eastdale Recreation Center, Lane held neighborhood meetings at the center to deter troublemakers from returning.
"She has been a lightning rod for holding homeowners together," said Greg Walton, a Foxwood Heights resident of more than 40 years.
Dozens of Eastdale, Foxwood Heights and North Brainerd residents will celebrate Lane at Eastdale Recreation Center today.
She retired as president of Foxwood Heights Neighborhood Association this year. Walton, age 60, is taking her place and hosting her celebration.
Lane said she wants to retire so that younger people can bring their vision for the future of Foxwood Heights.
The neighborhood includes about 257 households, many of them settled homeowners in their senior years with a median household income of $33,571, according to realtor.com. But the neighborhood is located between Richard Avenue and Greenwood Road on the edge of Wilcox Boulevard. It borders near Wilcox and Tunnel boulevards, an area police have called a battlefield for gang activity.
The average crime rate in that area for murder, assault and burglary is higher than the city and national averages, according to the website.
Lane, a Foxwood resident since 1969, always wanted to work in her community, but didn't really have the time until after she retired. She became president in 2004 after surviving lung cancer.
As president she petitioned tirelessly for the City Council to fix Wilcox Tunnel, spoke out against more liquor stores coming into the community and tried to get more services for youths.
She wanted a face-lift for Foxwood, said Walton. That included sidewalks, at least better curbs and street lights.
Before Lane, Foxwood Heights didn't have regular community meetings, said Robert Schreane, chairman of the North Brainerd Community Council that includes Foxwood Heights and 11 other area neighborhood groups.
And even though Lane has retired, she still attends neighborhood meetings and gets information for residents, he said.
Lane credits Schreane and Joe Rowe, from the North Brainerd Community Council, for doing research, physical labor and getting the manpower she needed to advocate for Foxwood Heights.
"She has a willing heart, a strong desire to improve the community," said Rowe.
"She worked diligently for a long time," said Schreane. "She pulled the Foxwood neighborhood together."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.