TO PROTECT WITH COURAGE

TO SERVE WITH COMPASSION

Crime Prevention Awards

Teresa S. Ruhland Youth Award

James Nelson is the winner of the 2008 Teresa S. Ruhland Youth Award.

The Minneapolis Police Department has chosen James Nelson as the winner of the 2008 Teresa S. Ruhland Youth Award. Each year, the award is given to a volunteer or volunteers who do an outstanding job of involving young people in community activities. Nelson lives in the Willard-Hay neighborhood of north Minneapolis and was nominated by Crime Prevention Specialist Tim Hammett.

Nelson first moved to the neighborhood in July 2005, and soon noticed that many children in the neighborhood were badly in need of more positive adult contact. In just a few years, he’s become an important figure in the lives of dozens of kids, 60 or 70 of whom now know him simply as "Pops." He’s the person many kids turn to if they need to borrow a football, get some air in their bicycle tires, or just need someone to talk to. He organizes impromptu games for kids, and takes groups of them sledding or to the movies. Most importantly, he listens.

"We do a lot of talking," said Nelson. "I always tell them to ask lots of questions because that’s how they learn. How are they going to know anything unless they ask and somebody tells them about their questions? My dad always got mad at me when I asked questions. I always told him I needed somebody to tell me the answers to my questions. I try to let the kids know that we are put on this earth to help one another—that we are not alone in our life’s journey."

In nominating Nelson, Hammett wrote "Over the years, by simply showing the common virtues of honesty and trust, and by letting the kids know that he thinks they’re important, and that their lives matter, he has become an invaluable part of their lives and of the community."

Nelson is also an active participant in the community in general, often helping out with neighborhood events, including barbecues and picnics. His contributions have helped change the atmosphere of the community. In nominating Nelson, Hammett also wrote "Kids in the neighborhood are more likely to talk openly and honestly with the adults, to trust them, and heed their guidance. Likewise, as the grown ups in the neighborhood get to know the kids better, there is less suspicion and mistrust, and more security and mutual respect."

This award is named in memory of Teresa Sheehy Ruhland, an outstanding, visionary employee of the Police Department’s Community Crime Prevention/SAFE unit. A mother of three young children, Ruhland focused on the future generations in our city. She gave much to the city, including the major role she played in developing a process for notifying the public when high-risk sex offenders move into city neighborhoods. Many Minneapolis residents had the good fortune to work with Teresa over the years. Teresa died in May of 2000.

Building Block Awards

Neighbors working together and watching out for each other make a difference! Every year, the Minneapolis Police Department presents Building Blocks Awards to block clubs that effectively connect neighbors. In deciding on these awards we consider how the nominated block club prevents crime, takes on issues, and shares time together. The following are the 2008 winners:

"The 3rd Place Block Club, Elliot Park neighborhood

The "3rd Place" Block club, led by Shar Kanan and Diane Ingram, was organized in 2006. By participating in monthly coffee shop meetings with the First Precinct, Shar and Diane have helped engage dozens of residents in active crime prevention participation. By working together this community was able to eliminate drug activity at the corner of East 15th Street and Portland Avenue South in 2006 and also united a wide group of stakeholders around loitering and livability issues on East 17th Street and Chicago Avenue South.

Manor Homes of Old St. Anthony Community Block Club, Marcy Holmes neighborhood

The Manor Homes of Old St. Anthony Community block club, led by E. Katie Holm and Marte Johnson, works with the 2nd Precinct to reduce crime and to disseminate information for community members. The club was formed in the summer of 2008 when a handful of townhomes got together to discuss crime prevention by environmental design. Shortly after the club formed, a string of burglaries brought the rest of the Manor Homes of Old St. Anthony community together. The club holds community meetings in the summer and fall and also works with other Marcy-Holmes block clubs to share ideas and resources.

3200 Block of Cleveland Street Northeast Block Club, Waite Park neighborhood

The 3200 Block of Cleveland Street North East Block Club, led by Greg Gooch and Sorcha and Cara Nix, has been progressively growing since its National Night Out celebration in 2001, but was formally established in April 2008 when the neighborhood website was launched. The group works with the 2nd precinct and has successfully changed patterns of suspicious behavior on the block including the apprehension of bike thieves and the arrest of illegal plant growers. Additional reports led to the rescue of an endangered senior citizen and the sale and rehab of house that was in disrepair. The club also gets together often for meetings, potlucks, service projects and neighborhood festivals including National Night Out. In April 2008, the block club launched its own Cleveland Street Website as another effective way to connect with neighbors.

2500 Block of 16th Avenue South Block Club, East Phillips neighborhood

The 2500 Block of 16th Avenue South Block club is led by Beverly Adams, Michelle Vander Veen, and Joani Essenburg and was founded in 1992. The group has worked closely with the Minneapolis Police Department over the years to reduce crime in the area by installing a traffic barrier and mobile camera that have helped reduce drug traffic and suspicious activity. The block club also hosts quarterly meetings, pot lucks and participates in National Night Out to build and strengthen relationships in the neighborhood. The block club also participates in events and activities associated with the Banyan Community – an organization that builds relationships and improves the lives of both youth and adults living in the East Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis.

3100 Block of Clinton Avenue South Block Club, Central neighborhood

The 3100 Block of Clinton Avenue South Block Club, led by Brian Finstad, has worked hard to curb prostitution and other crime in the neighborhood. Brian started the block club in the winter of 2008 with some long-time neighborhood activists. With the help of multiple partners including the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct, Hennepin County Probation, Department of Corrections, Metro Gang Task Force, the City Attorney’s Office, Business Licensing and Housing Inspections, the area has seen an increase in police presence and other city enforcement actions. Although there is still work to be done, the block club has made a big impression on those chronic offenders who feel this neighborhood is a place where they can blend in.

St. Olaf Block Club, Jordan/Hawthorne neighborhoods

The St. Olaf Block Club, led by sisters Maggie Rannow and Mary Rice, got its start approximately 10 years ago. In the last five years, the club has teamed up with St. Olaf church to hold monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of every month. This club is made up of residents from both the Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods and together they have tackled everything from boarded up and run down properties, to drug and party houses. By being persistent and working with the 4th precinct, City Council members and land lords, they’ve been able to make improvements in the neighborhood.

35th Avenue North and Aldrich/Lyndale Avenues North Block Club, McKinley neighborhood

The 35th Avenue North and Aldrich/Lyndale Avenues North Block Club is led by Norma Miller and Jessica Williams. Norma and Jessica have worked tirelessly to bring residents together and build a community the right way. They have both helped to recruit other block club leaders in the McKinley neighborhood and have worked with them to share ideas and lessons learned to make the community better. In addition to bringing the block together for events like National Night Out, they’ve worked with the Minneapolis Police Department on serious problem properties, encouraged residents to call 911, and helped those in need to curb the effect of the foreclosure crisis.

4200 Block of Garfield Avenue South Block Club, King Field neighborhood

The 4200 block of Garfield Avenue South does not have an official "block leader," but has many involved neighbors with traditions and gatherings that go back decades. Block members have frequent contact with one another through weekly, monthly and annual events including National Night Out parties, potluck dinners, Saturday morning coffees, and poker nights. The block club even awards new neighbors a traveling painting of "Mrs. Garfield" that remains in the new neighbor’s possession until the next house on the block changes hands. Residents also work with the 5th precinct on neighborhood safety issues including vandalism, drug dealing, excessive speeding and other suspicious activity.

West-of-King Block Clubs, King Field neighborhood

The West-of-King Block Clubs is a developing group involving nine blocks from Nicollet Avenue South to Wentworth Avenue South, and East 40th Street to East 43rd Street. The club is led by Mary and Michael Vanderford, Linda Madson, Chris DeParde, and Rosie Novak, and began as response to shootings, drug dealing and a murder in the neighborhood in 2008. Since the block club formed in September 2008, it has held meetings with neighbors, Mayor Rybak, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, the Minneapolis Police Department and other leaders to work constructively on what could be done about the crime in the area. The group is working to fill gaps in neighborhood leadership, build phone trees, re-create block maps, start an evening walking group, and research how it can support youth programs at King Park.

4900 Block of Thomas & Upton Avenues South Block Club, Fulton neighborhood

The 4900 Block of Thomas & Upton Avenues South Block Club, led by Marji Miller and Bill Porteous, has been in existence for more than 20 years. It started in approximately 1986 with a National Night Out celebration and the neighborhood prides itself on never having to cancel a National Night Out gathering. The club builds connections with neighbors not only through meetings and gatherings, but by having a block club list of everyone’s name and phone number. New residents to the neighborhood are greeted with this list and a Fulton Welcome Packet. The block leaders work with the Minneapolis Police Department by serving on the Fulton Safety Committee and attending meetings with Council Member Betsy Hodges and the MPD and Park Police.

5600 Block of Blaisdell Avenue South Block Club, Windom neighborhood

The 5600 Block of Blaisdell Avenue South Block Club is led by Ann Palmer. The block club stays connected through email lists, phone calls and flyers to keep neighbors up-to-date on the happenings of the neighborhood. After witnessing suspicious activity, the group has organized even more, and involved both the Minneapolis Police Department and Crime Prevention Specialists, to report drug deals, handle problem tenants, address speeding issues, and even respond to the assault and robbery of a disabled neighbor. The block club also hosts many events throughout the year to build relationships including a September block party (because many are out of town for National Night Out), October pumpkin carving, and winter pot luck dinners.

Minneapolis has a long tradition of strong block clubs, with neighbors working together to prevent crime, connect people who live and work on the block, and take on issues in their neighborhoods. Block clubs often improve the general quality of life, helping neighbors develop a feeling of mutual support from their community. Each year, the Minneapolis Police Department makes a special effort to honor volunteers and block clubs who have done outstanding work. For more information on block clubs in Minneapolis, and how to start one, visit: Community Crime Prevention.

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Last updated Apr 6, 2012