Champion of the Month

Joan Bowman & Rose Pope Share

Apr 3, 2017  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Joan Bow­man was born in Mar­i­on in 1927, and has essen­tial­ly lived here all of her life. At 89 years of age, she works at Jus­tice Mid­dle School in food service. 

Bow­man has been a leader of her neigh­bor­hood, Cen­ter City, for 20+ years. Bow­man has even helped oth­er neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tions dur­ing the years. Bow­man was one of the lead­ers of the stag­ing efforts that would take place to mit­i­gate drug activ­i­ty in cer­tain homes in the 90’s, an effort she says Nor­ma Stone ini­ti­at­ed as PAIN (Peo­ple Against Ille­gal Narcotics). 

Bow­man has led her asso­ci­a­tion through major cleanups. She claims she miss­es them. I wish we all could come togeth­er and be on the same page in beau­ti­fy­ing the neigh­bor­hood. I wish more peo­ple would come to the meet­ings so we could hear their ideas and con­cerns, and we can work from there. I can­not under­stand why peo­ple don’t want to get involved.”

Bow­man describes Mar­i­on as an ide­al place to live. I like a small town. It’s for me. I raised a fam­i­ly here. You know your neigh­bors, where­as in a big city you don’t real­ly get to do that.”

Bow­man says cham­pi­oning for your com­mu­ni­ty real­ly is win­ning.” She adds, Every­thing that we start, I hope we can accom­plish it and be a win­ner on what we start and finish.”

Rose Pope was born in Mar­i­on in 1932, and has lived here all of her life. 

After see­ing drug activ­i­ty in a cou­ple of homes in her neigh­bor­hood, she (and Daryl Smith) start­ed a neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tion. At that time, approx­i­mate­ly 25 years ago, the H.O.P.E. asso­ci­a­tion was formed. Pope led numer­ous efforts that suc­cess­ful­ly deterred drug deal­ers from enter­ing the homes. They would set up a burn bar­rel and cook hot dogs every week­end from the ear­ly evening until mid­night in front of the con­cerned homes. She also led march­es, one being city­wide with many oth­er neigh­bor­hood asso­ci­a­tions, where the Mar­i­on Police Depart­ment would also get involved.

The H.O.P.E. asso­ci­a­tion worked hard to clean up the neigh­bor­hood (33rd to 38th, Adams to West­ern). Pope said they cut down weeds, helped paint the curbs, cleaned up debris, and assist­ed elder­ly res­i­dents with the upkeep of their homes. 

At one time, H.O.P.E. had about 40 mem­bers. Today there are only 15 – 20. Most mem­bers grew old­er and many of them have passed away, Pope explained. She hopes to build the asso­ci­a­tion back up again with the help of Lar­ry Richard­son, for­mer Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion Coor­di­na­tor, who this year retired from the City, but will con­tin­ue serv­ing as H.O.P.E.’s new president.

Pope respond­ed imme­di­ate­ly when asked what it means to cham­pi­on for the com­mu­ni­ty. Peace of mind.” Pope advis­es younger gen­er­a­tions, Real­ize this is their place to live. If they want to have a decent place to raise their chil­dren, they need to get involved now.”

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