Community policing breaks down barriers and sometimes inspires partnerships that lift neighbourhoods.
Constable Calvin Clarke and Cyleta Sealy crossed paths four years ago when he responded to the Glendower community resident’s appeal for assistance.
While the 42 Division officer can’t recall the nature of the call, he stayed in contact with her because of the positive things she’s doing in her community.
In the last decade, Sealy has been running an after-school program – Beyond Academics – in a community room on the ground floor of a Toronto Community Housing Unit at the southeast corner of Birchmount Rd. and Finch Ave. E.
Recognizing the room needed a facelift, Clarke approached Lowe’s Canada for some paint.
He got far more than he asked for.
When the officer learned that the improvement and appliance store offered a Heroes Program to make communities better places to live in, he nominated Sealy’s program.
The nomination was successful and it meant that, in addition to buckets of paint, the program would benefit from a wheelchair accessible bathroom, window curtains, a fridge and stove and other appliances for the refurbished room.
Starting last week, Clarke and other 42 Division officers, along with two Lowe employees, have been painting and renovating the community space. Over the next three weeks, they will spend approximately nine hours two days a week working on the project.
“The room was in bad shape and needed a makeover,” said Clarke, who has been with the Service for nine years. “It’s my belief that in order for kids to learn, they need to be in an inviting and bright environment.”
Sealy, who migrated from Barbados nearly four decades ago, concurred.
“Young people feel better about themselves when they are in a uplifting surrounding,” she said. “They will no doubt feel more motivated to learn.”
She also praised the 42 Division crew for their assistance.
“There is a negative perception out there about the police,” said Sealy. “The officers from this division have however demonstrated that policing is more than just coming into the community and doing their law enforcement work. They saw an opportunity to invest in the community and our young people who are the future. What they have said to our youths by their actions is that we are here for you to help make things better for you and not to arrest you even though we still have to do our jobs. The police are playing a part in a major way to help our children succeed and I am forever grateful for that.”
A member of the 42 Division Community Police Liaison Committee, Sealy started the club after moving into Glendower about 14 years ago.
“It began with one child coming over to my home and the next thing I knew there were about 10 to 12 children,” she said. “I needed a larger space and that’s how we ended up in this community room.”
On weekday afternoons between 3:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., about 25 young people from the kindergarten to Grade 10 level would gather in the room for reading lessons and help with their homework.
“I enjoy doing this,” said the Toronto District School Board contract worker. “I grew up in a home in Barbados surrounded by educators and kids would often come to our home for help. It’s my time to give back to young people who need assistance.”