Ten years ago, Theresa Bass was all set to move out of her East Linden Street house. Crime was rampant, and drug deals were being made out in the open. But she was torn, because her mother lived on East Linden, just three houses away, and East Linden's been home to her all her life.
"It was real bad," she said. "I felt no one cared. "I'd see people standing around and they were up to no good. There were people here I'd never seen in my life."
But instead of moving, Bass fought back. She formed a homeowner group that still meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Bethel AME Church on East Linden Street. And she aided in the startup of HELP (Historic East Linden Project), an organization whose goal is to revitalize the neighborhood.
"I wanted to make a change, and to do that I had to speak up," said Bass, who got inspiration and encouragement from community nurse Joan Holliday.
"Before most people kept to themselves," Holliday said. "Now, they work together to get things done."
Now, there are neighborhood events like block parties, Black History Month celebrations and community clean-ups that foster a sense of community. East Linden Street, which not too long ago was unsafe to walk, is now in the middle of a restoration that is making homeowners proud.
"This has been a nice change in the neighborhood and it's really boosting morale here," Said Suzanne Hazard, who grew up in Kennett Square and is Bethel AMC church steward.
And borough officials have been helpful. Borough Manager Brant Kucera and Codes Enforcement Officer Rusty Drumheller walked the street with Bass recently to brainstorm on how positive changes could be accomplished. The borough is working with Bass and her group on purchasing and erecting Town Watch signs on East Linden Street.
"The borough has been great, but there's still a lot of work to do," Bass said. "We need to fix up the sidewalks and alleyways, and maybe build a tot lot. We're working hard. Everyone's attitude is different now."