GREENVILLE (Aug, 30, 2011) - “Soybean City” has been under siege by an infestation of bees for 20 years. Up to 10 apartments are uninhabitable and families have abandoned nearby units, fearful that a child could die if a bee sting results in anaphylactic shock. However, thanks to the generosity of Greenville business owner Reginald Reed the bee problem soon may be just a bad memory.
Reed owns Reed Exterminating Company, which plans to send three exterminators on September 12 to eradicate the bees currently infesting five buildings in Advent Heights Apartments. Reed offered to do the work free of charge because the impoverished community had difficulty coming up with the $1,000 extermination fee. It’s a big job because the nests are in walls covered with bricks, but Reed says, “Whatever it takes to get to the nests, I will do it.”
Advent Heights residents have been working with Delta Citizens Alliance (DCA) on a community resiliency project, but DCA Operations Manager Tasha Griffin said it’s been difficult to make headway on issues facing the community when the bee problem dominates residents’ concerns. “The bees are an obstacle because large areas have to be avoided where they can’t even cut the grass. It takes away from the beautification of the neighborhood. The residents wanted to work together to keep the community clean and nice-looking.” Griffin contacted Reed, and he said he wanted to help.
Advent Heights Manager Hope Davenport said the community is trying to improve life for the approximately 150 children at risk, not only from bees, but also from the lack of activities available to them on the far side of Greenville. “Lately, we’ve had quite a few children who’ve got into trouble. We’re trying to take back our children,” Davenport said. “We have some highly intelligent children, but because we have not invested in them they have made that turn to the youth court system.”
Solving the bee problem, which is impacting about 20 per cent of Soybean City’s land area, will help pave the way for a greater focus on youth. Griffin said, “Once the bee problem is solved, it’s going to help the residents help themselves to improve their community.”
Community resiliency efforts focus on training residents in high-risk communities in what is known as the “Three Principles” approach to realizing the role that thought plays in the creation of human experience. DCA hopes to see improvements in school performance, crime rates and citizen involvement. DCA is a membership-based, non-profit organization working to improve economic and social conditions of citizens in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi Delta. DCA, based in Greenville, works in partnership with the non-profit Center for Sustainable Change as part of the National Community Resiliency Project, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.