Saturday, July 07, 2018

Westcott Cemetery Update

I'm setting a new goal to blog once a week as much as possible. Of course life always gets in the way and so on, but I will do my best. I've never really used this blog as a money-maker or as a way to really promote myself as a writer. It's always been more of a writing outlet for me. But when I find out that my blog made a difference in someone's day or even affected the course of the way things may have gone it's very inspiring.

I have a really cool follow up story to my blog post regarding the Westcott Cemetery ten years ago. Five years later one of the descendants of the Westcott family contacted me on this blog post. She told me that she and her sisters had been researching their genealogy and she had come across my blog about her family's cemetery. We had lunch and I learned more about the Westcott family and Gayle and I became friends.

Fast forward five years later and Gayle's sister Sara has led an effort to to take back ownership of the cemetery and to create a non-profit organization, the Westcott Cemetery Association. I was so honored when they asked me to sit on the board of this association.

Last weekend my daughter Miranda and I volunteered to clean up the Westcott Cemetery with neighborhood friends and volunteers from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, who were in town volunteering with several causes. I took pictures and went on ice runs but Miranda did a lot!

Miranda hard at work!

The cemetery has had years when it's been cleaned by the city, the community and years when it is completely forgotten. Keeping it clean is not a one time job of course. It's something that has to be kept up regularly and that's hard work. Last weekend's efforts really made a huge difference! 

I love this story for so many reasons. First of all because I love this cemetery. We first went there because my sister insisted that my dad stop so we could explore. I used to like to go there as a little girl and I kept up with it over the years.  I would drive by just to look at it. I was so sad when I found out that the archway with the name had either fallen or had possibly been knocked down by vandals. But I'm so excited that I can now make a difference in the care that this cemetery receives. As you all know, I'm obsessed with old cemeteries but this one was my first love. 

It's also been so inspiring to learn how the community, the Greater Northside Management District, Pastor David Smith of the New Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and his wife, and people who grew up in the neighborhood have just embraced this cemetery and loved it over the years. When we were there last weekend City Councilwoman Karla Cisneros stopped by to learn more about the initiative. 

Another reason I love this story is because it's a testament to the power of social media. I wrote a blog, a descendant read it and now there's an association for the Westcott Cemetery. That alone is amazing and I can't wait to see what happens in the future as this effort grows.

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