Anita Gardner, NLDP Cohort V, is the Executive Director of the Community Concerned Citizens Council (Concerned Citizens) in the Mt. Pleasant Neighborhood. Concerned Citizens supports residents with a variety of programming for children including art classes, sewing classes, cooking classes and a computer lab. They also provide laundry and clothing donations, act as a community location for the Cleveland Food Bank Mobile Pantry, and bring a mobile HIV testing clinic to the neighborhood. Beyond the services provided at the Center, Concerned Citizens also provides community representation at Cleveland Housing Court. Through this work they play an important role in maintaining the housing stock in the neighborhood and protecting residents from disinvestment.
Several years ago, NLDP Graduate Richard Goudreau of Cohort IX, was working for Cuyahoga County as the Community Service Coordinator for the Juvenile Court. Through this work, Richard started bringing young people who needed to complete community service hours to Anita at the Concerned Citizens Community Center.
When Richard took a job at Harvard Community Services Center doing code enforcement, Anita was there to show him the ropes of going out into the community and photographing houses and keeping track of their condition. Richard helped Anita to get the new Concerned Citizens Community Center up and running and it was Anita who recommended that Richard attend NLDP in 2015. In addition to his code enforcement work, Richard is a Master Gardener and local community garden leader. He is passionate about improving the community through sustainable agriculture and building connections between government and community groups.
These days Richard and Anita conduct code enforcement inspections in the neighborhood together and attend housing court together. They are working hard to improve their community and make sure the housing is properly cared for and maintained. Richard will also be bringing his gardening expertise to the new hoop house at the Concerned Citizens Community Center.
Anita also collaborates with NLDP Graduate Barbara Anderson, who runs her own community center. They have teamed up to keep each others' buildings in good repair and make sure they are able to do whatever is necessary to continue serving the community. Other graduates you might find helping out at the Center include Xavier Allen, Rahim Bassit, and Rodney Llewellyn. Anita is always ready to offer up her space to others or help them in any way she can. Anita says, "I just want everybody to know that you are not alone, because its hard out there."