Thunder rumbled in the distance on Thursday as Quiana and Isah walked to the clubhouse at the Broadwater Townhomes.
It was the first day of interviews for Embrace Richmond’s summer Dream Catchers Project in their neighborhood and these Thomas Dale High School students were early, eager to meet neighbors and hear stories of their life and dreams for the future.
Sharniece, another Dale student, soon joined them.
The girls set out on foot, accompanied by members of Chester United Methodist Church, a community partner for Broadwater.
What did they learn on this first day of listening?
One neighbor is a nurse on disability who speaks Hebrew.
“She wants to add speed bumps,” Quiana said. “She thinks people go really fast here.”
Another neighbor plays bass guitar and paints pictures. He wants people to stop littering and wants to be able to put things on his porch without worrying that they’ll disappear.
Sharniece’s neighbor is a youth pastor at a local church.
He lamented the lack of a community center.
These townhomes are filled with children and teens, but the streets were empty on a summer afternoon, as was the community center until these young ladies gathered to prepare for their interviews.
It wasn’t the heat or the threat of rain keeping them inside.
There simply isn’t anything to do here, a reality that makes all three young ladies sad.
Sharniece moved here from Winchester Green.
“They had snack time, game time, time where you can get on computers,” she said. “It was open all the time. You just signed in, got involved, and everyone was welcome. In the summer time, they planned trips to go places. When I got here I was like, ‘What? There’s nothing going on here?’”
Isah shared a similar story from her days living in Minnesota. She, too, remembers the summers.
“They had camps connected to the community,” Isah said. “It wasn’t a lot of money. There were scholarships for people who didn’t have the money for kids to go. At the end of the school year, people would ask, ‘Are you going to camp this summer? See you there.’”
These young ladies would love to see family nights in their community, complete with games and food trucks and music.
For now, it’s just a dream among many in this neighborhood.
Quiana didn’t know what to expect on her first day of meeting neighbors.
“I was nervous as first,” she said, with a smile.
Each of the girls wants to be a part of making Broadwater a better place.
“Every community can get better and grow,” Isah said. “I’m excited to be a part of that change.”