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Photo by Kayla Perrin

Community activist Lisa Leverette’s commitment to working in and improving the area where she lives runs deep and wide.

She’s a third-generation resident of the area bounded by Twelfth Street, Dexter, West Grand Blvd. and Clairmount.

And she owns three houses in the community. To keep houses from going into disarray or becoming havens for squatters and drug seekers, Leverette purchased the houses on each side of her home.

“I bought the homes six years ago for a very attractive price,” she said. That’s just one way Leverette demonstrates her longstanding commitment to the community where she has lived for 22 years.

Leverette volunteers in two neighborhood empowerment organizations: the Central Durfee Coalition and Highland Sturtevant Community Association.

“I enter into relationships with neighbors to make sure we share information, look out for each other, advocate for the best interests for our area and do what’s possible to have a positive quality of life,” Leverette said. “We meet and stay in contact to discuss any irregular activities in the neighborhood, organize clean-ups, advocate for the interest of residents; ensuring our needs and wants are respected.”

The groups also support student activities and work to strengthen relationships with area businesses.”

Her service to her neighborhood is praised.

“Lisa Leverette has been a source of resources and information that is vital to the history, growth, economic and educational productivity of this historic area,” said area resident Claudette Cameron.

Leverette said she can’t help but give back as others have given to her. Besides, she says, her family is generations-deep in the community.

“I live between Davison and Clairmount several blocks from Linwood,” she explained. “My mother and uncle Warren David Small, who played football, both went to Central High School, and my grandmother raised her six kids in the Philadelphia area.”

Leverette sees both challenges and change in her community but is inspired by the resiliency and pride of residents who stayed when many others fled.

“Our communities are often neglected, i.e. less city services,” she said, adding some people move out of the neighborhood for that reason. “Then you look up and see people who do not resemble the residents that left purchasing homes in the neighborhood.

“Property is power,’’ Leverette said. “I want to be a part of making policy and decision making; owning property is one way to realize that goal.”

Leverette refuses to give up.

“I have to keep going because I would not be here were it not for the people that came before me,” said Leverette, who is Executive Director and Chief Change Orchestrator (CCO) of the Community Connections Grant Program.

“I care because this is my home, my community. If not me, then who? It’s not a choice for me,” she said. “It’s organic. I am hardwired to make every effort to make things better for myself and those with which I share space and destiny”.

Residents interested these community groups email Central Durfee Coalition at centraldurfeecoalition@gmail.com.

One Year in the Life, a new monthly supplement to the Michigan Chronicle ROOTS section, is dedicated to exclusive coverage of the Detroit experience at a grassroots level. The edition is the result of a partnership between ARISE Detroit!, a nonprofit community mobilization coalition of more than 400 organizations and the Michigan Chronicle is the state’s oldest and most respected African American newspaper. The project is made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan.

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