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Organization is looking for more members to help neighborhood

Date: 8/22/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — A volunteer effort in South Holyoke is designed to build community partnerships.

On Aug. 17, the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative (SHSNI) presented a family fun night at James Jackson Court at the corner of Jackson and South Canal streets. David McCoy, the community outreach coordinator, explained to Reminder Publications the event included a screening of "The Lorax," a voter registration table, free food, and bags of school supplies distributed to the first 350 children by the Valley Opportunity Council.

The organization describes itself on its website ( as "a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement; city and state government; civic and human service organizations; faith based organizations; the business community; education providers; property managers; and residents coming together with a goal to create a safe, healthy and economically viable neighborhood through information sharing, referrals and community efforts in the South Holyoke neighborhood."

McCoy said the organization is dedicated to rebuilding the community, which has seen significant drug use and gang violence. He said the group focuses on children who are at high risk for dropping out or joining gangs.

SHSNI started one year ago with a membership of less than 20 people, but has grown.

The group meets monthly with the next gathering at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13 at El Mercado at 413 Main St.

The group also presents monthly neighborhood walks with the next one at 6 p.m. on Sept. 20 starting from the Morgan School. There is also a family fun night scheduled for October as well.

The group is working with the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club to present a youth boxing program.

Despite the active roster of events, the group receives no formal funding for its activities, relying on its community partners and donations from individuals.

McCoy said the group operates "on a hope and prayer."

"People just help us," he added.

McCoy said, "It's really been a blessing to give something to the community,"