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Volunteers remove graffiti during 'paint-out'

August 14, 2005|By MARIE GILBERT

marieg@herald-mail.net

The writing was on the wall.

But Denise Jones was making every effort to remove it - scraping away the surface, adding primer and then a fresh coat of paint.

Jones was among the individuals who volunteered their time Saturday morning to remove graffiti from properties between Mitchell and Linganore avenues in Hagerstown's West End.

The "paint-out" was organized by the City of Hagerstown's Neighborhoods 1st Program, in conjunction with the Office of Code Compliance.

According to Shelli Dronsfield, Community Development coordinator, several properties in the West End were recent targets of graffiti.

"The area was hit pretty hard," she said. "Garages, fences and walls were all spray painted overnight. So we thought this would be a great opportunity to demonstrate what the Neighborhood 1st Program is all about."

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The core mission of the program, Dronsfield said, is to improve neighborhoods through community projects.

"It's all about neighbors helping neighbors," she said. "And what better way to showcase the program than this - helping residents remove or cover the graffiti and make their properties more aesthetically pleasing."

Over the past few weeks, a call went out for volunteers to donate several hours Saturday to the "paint-out." Companies and individuals also were asked to donate supplies and refreshments.

According to Dronsfield, about 12 people showed up to lend a hand.

Jones said she decided to help out "because I don't want to be that person at the coffee shop who talks about what's wrong with the community, but never does anything to help."

Even though she lives in Waynesboro, Pa., Jones said she owns property in Hagerstown and plans to eventually move to the downtown area.

"I believe in Hagerstown and what it can be," she said.

As she added a coat of primer to a graffiti-covered garage, Jones guessed the graffiti artists probably were youngsters with a can of paint and nothing to do.

"I agree that kids need things to do, but this is not it," she said. "You just don't go around destroying other people's property."

Todd Groesbeck, who lives several blocks away from the area hit by graffiti, said he decided to lend a hand "because this is the right thing to do."

"You look out for your neighbor," he said. "People have to get involved. When you do, it makes life easier for everyone."

Groesbeck said he moved to Hagerstown about two years ago, after living in Gaithersburg, Md.

"You just don't see this kind of thing happening down there," he said. "That was one of the reasons we moved here. People really look out for each other."

Groesbeck said he believes so strongly in helping others in the community that he became chairperson of the Northwest Neighbors, a part of the Neighborhoods 1st Program.

"I think it's important to have pride in where you live," he said. "That's one of the reasons I'm here today. Plus, everyone's having fun. And it's a good way to make new friends."

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