ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Allie Williams is working to build the West Hill community up, starting feet away from the latest homicide, at one of the city’s most dangerous corners.
Williams has transformed a vacant lot, where several candles and liquor bottles sat on the ground as a memorial to all the people who have died at that particular corner of First and Quail Street, into The Cultural Center.
“It just hurt me so bad that this is what continues to go on in my community,” Williams said.
The center has a food pantry outside the cabin for anyone who’s in need. Inside the cabin has items for the community to take. But it’s the simplest thing the center is adding to the neighborhood, some may even overlook, trees and grass.
“I was born in New York City and I came to the Capital Region for something so simple, grass. We’re here in this community where you barely even see grass,” Williams said.
Without trees and grass kids play in empty gravel lots. Williams is using the center to give kids something to do and somewhere to go.
“It seems that people aren’t grasping that concept of losing loved ones, losing fathers and sisters. That’s what this community center is for, you know, to bring love and peace into the community,” said Zaire Mayo.
Mayo looks up to Williams as a mentor. He also works as the groundskeeper for the center and has seen the impact of violence on this block.
$30,000 has gone into the center. Williams said she needs help to keep this passion project going.
People donate food to the pantry, but she’s started a fundraiser to hire people from the neighborhood like Mayo to maintain the location so a community plagued with violence can have a sense of pride.
“If we work together, fight together, we can change quail. We can change first,” Williams said.
The investigation into Thursday’s shooting on near First and Quail Street is still ongoing.
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