On the cold and rainy morning of Saturday, March 11, several community organizations came together for a community cleanup and lawn care event for elderly residents of the Birmingham community of Titusville.
Members of the Offender Alumni Association (OAA), Sigma Gamma Rho sorority (Lambda Eta Sigma Chapter), Omega Psi Phi fraternity (Alpha Phi Chapter) and Living Church Ministries International joined forces at the church on Omega Street, bringing lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed eaters, gloves and lawn bags. Soon, the neighborhood was humming with the combined efforts of thirty people raking, bagging, trimming and mowing.
“This is what community is all about,” says Dena Dickerson, Executive Director of the Offender Alumni Association. She explains that OAA reached out to the fraternity and sorority to partner with them on the project. Twenty-seven seniors from the Living Church Senior Center were identified as recipients of free lawn care in the ongoing efforts of OAA and their partners. The organizations have committed to a quarterly event going forward. “All of these different people are coming together for the common goal of giving back to the community.”
The Offender Alumni Association, founded by Former Chief Justice Drayton Nabers and Deborah Daniels, is a 501c3 non-profit committed to helping formerly incarcerated people move past the stigma of being a felon and into a productive life of rebuilding communities and actively reducing crime. They meet regularly as a group to support those who are struggling with the transition of leaving incarceration and reintegration into society.
One of the community engagement goals of OAA is bringing respect back into the community by engaging and supporting elderly citizens. They strive to support residents of the Titusville community as they identify things that pose a threat to a safe and healthy environment, then work with them to find and implement solutions to the challenges they face.
They strive to enlighten residents with what it means to be accountable to and responsible for the wellbeing of themselves, their neighbors and community as a whole. OAA partners with local businesses and respected community members to make a positive impact.
Ms. Dickerson is currently working on opening a restaurant that will serve as a job training center for former offenders where they can work while also attending classes for a GED or other certification program.
Dickerson explained, in more detail, how OAA members benefit from the community engagement aspect of their organization. “We seek to give back to the communities that we took so much from. People watch you. They don’t care what you’re saying. They see what you’re doing.”
For more information about the Offender Alumni Association, visit: