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Ivanhoe neighborhood sparkles thanks to Pembroke Hill seniors

Posted at 5:15 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 18:15:31-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The sounds of chainsaws, lawn mowers, weed wackers and shovels traveled through the normally quiet streets of the Ivanhoe neighborhood Tuesday.

It wasn’t because of a recent storm, but a senior project.

The stretch of 34th Street from Brooklyn Avenue to Park Avenue received the muscle of Pembroke Hill seniors as they took over the community for a few hours to help clean it up. 

“It's a civic duty, it's as simple as that,” said senior Andrew Hughes. 

The senior class is finishing up one last class assignment before crossing the graduation stage. 

“Walking through school, you only have class with 14 or 15 people,” said senior Matthe Gernon. “This gives us a chance for all 100 people in our grade to reunite.”

“It's really nice to build a sense of community before we all go our separate ways,” said senior Gina Pepitone. 

“Even individually, they can make an impact and how important it is and how much it means to especially the elderly residents,” said Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council Chief Operating Officer Nailah M'Biti.

The street is a demonstration block where vacant lots and homes are transformed into vibrant properties.

“One of the things that happens, when you see a neighborhood with overgrown blocks of areas that have trash, debris, excessive growth, it appears that no one cares,” said Key Coalition Neighborhood President, Karen Slaughter. “It's very easy for the residents to feel disenfranchised.”

Neighborhood leaders say it’s a chance for Ivanhoe residents to see that their community matters and get involved.

“Some of the residents, they're worried about gentrification and all the negative things that comes with it, so our goal is to get more residents within the neighborhood engaged to boost that care factor,” said Marquis Everett from the Urban Neighborhood Initiative.

Seniors are hoping their work can make a lasting impact.

“There's so much we have that we can share with others and it's our duty and our job to share that with others and that you can learn from anyone and everyone,” said senior Bella Barnes.

“When we're able to come in and spark up or spruce up an area what we're doing today, it shows residents two things,” Slaughter said. “One, that we do care what's going on in their environment and two, that they can come out and be engaged and help us maintain it.”