A spa bus, food vendors, barbers and hairstylists were on hand recently for a special Sunday event as part of a community outreach effort at the Hahnville housing development on Sunset Court.
Volunteer cleaning and lawn service crews also gave a helping hand as part of the Kings and Queens Cleanup Sunday event, picking up trash and mowing lawns prior to community festivities commencing just before the afternoon. The event was put on by We MADE, a nonprofit organization established by Hahnville High alumnus and former NFL veteran LaRon Byrd.
The youth of the neighborhood were able to enjoy free haircuts, have their nails done and learn positive grooming habits, with the help of several local businesses.
“We want our kids to have the opportunity to know what it feels like to be a young man and how to be groomed. We want our young ladies to know what it feels like at a young age to get your nails done and properly groom yourself,” said Byrd. “A lot of the world operates off perception.
“Someone might be the smartest kid, the brightest kid, white or black, but if they’re not groomed, their shirt’s some kind of way, then that kid’s looked at with a perception like there must be something wrong. But maybe they just lack resources.”
The day was part of a larger goal to foster togetherness within the community and pride of being a part of it. Byrd said the hope is that each of the 15 towns in St. Charles Parish adopt the community outreach for at least one Sunday a month. He says the group will go to a different town once a month, but that the goal is to inspire a parish-wide initiative that’s done collectively.
This was the first step toward that.
Byrd said he hopes to bring back a community togetherness he feels has waned since he was growing up.
“I grew up right there in Apartment 84, right across the street from the basketball court,” he said. “I was one of those kids looking for a basketball. There were a lot of older guys in our community that kept us straight. That didn’t let us stay out past 11, that made sure we got on the bus for school. Somebody else’s mom or grandmother, they’d keep us right, mentor us. Over time, somewhere we started to lose that.
“Let’s get the community behind these kids and get them opportunities. Let’s pour back into this community, because if we can get them young, teach these kids how to take advantage of your resources and opportunities … you see them thrive, and then your community thrives.”