Parish partners with Safe Streets Wichita to ‘clean up’ neighborhood

Father Jerome Spexarth, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Wichita, works with a volunteer to clean up the neighborhood around the parish.

After being named pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Wichita, Father Jerome Spexarth heard gun shots at night and noticed gang activity in his neighborhood. Faced with the issues of violent crime and families asking for help with gangs, Father Jerome partnered with Safe Streets Wichita to help make his parish neighborhood a safer and better place to live.
Safe Streets’ fundamental principle is that few know more about the needs and assets of their community than the people that live and work there. But knowing where to turn for assistance and guidance can be difficult. Safe Streets works to restore peace and security to our streets and be a catalyst to bring neighbors and resources together.
Safe Streets Wichita founder Pastor Dave Fulton of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church organized the non-profit with the help of Randy Wells, a retired Wichita Police Detective and St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner, and Cindy Galstad, a community educator with over 25 years of non-profit experience. They have formed a Safe Streets Coalition of area churches, non-profits, service organizations, schools, businesses, law enforcement, and government to apply for a Weed and Seed Grant for Historic Midtown and El Pueblo Neighborhoods.
Weed and Seed is a community-based approach to law enforcement, crime prevention and community restoration established by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1991. Its goals are to control violent crime, drug trafficking, and drug related crime in high crime areas.
This summer, St. Patrick’s hosted community meetings to learn more about child discipline vs. abuse, gang awareness, and organizing a Neighborhood Watch. St. Patrick’s hosted a National Night Out Party on Aug. 4.
Three hundred parishioners and neighbors attended and enjoyed a barbecue, met with Wichita City Manager Robert Layton, Wichita Fire Chief Ron Blackwell, and Wichita police officers. For the children there was a piñata, Slip and Slide, a fire engine, a bouncing room, a clown, and ice cream.
The seeds planted are beginning to sprout. On Aug. 15, 52 volunteers helped area neighbors collect 45 tons of trash, debris and unwanted items along with 300 tires for a neighborhood cleanup around St. Patrick’s Church.

Randy Wells, left, Cindy Galstad and Pastor Dave Fulton helped St. Patrick Parish and the neighborhood in their efforts to improve life.