Robin Harmon-Myers of Harmony Designs Furniture & Interiors (115 S. 4th Avenue) and other business owners like Dr. Yowhanna E. Bennett & Sarah Livingstone of The AC BAW Center For The Arts (128 S. 4th Ave), Essence Of Beauty (120 S. 4th Ave), The Mail and Parcel Shop (1 W. Prospect Ave), Edible Arrangements (138-Left Gramatan Ave) of the Downtown Merchants Association, organized a clean up of Fourth Avenue between Second and Third Streets, Saturday in conjunction with Mount Vernon’s Renew – Big Day of Serving.
Robin who is the Chairperson of the Downtown Merchants Association, a group of business owners starting with the Fourth Avenue corridor that have organized themselves to create a better shopping environment, sat down briefly after the clean up with BW to discuss what they hope to accomplish by beautifying the busy shopping area.
“The goal was to make what we have the best it can be,” Robin tells BW. “and we knew we had these planters, that needed to be enhanced and we had the bottom of these trees where many people put their garbage and we wanted to discourage that behavior, as well as make them look nice.”
The merchant association organized and planned the clean up and then others began to donate tools, water, supplies and volunteered to assist in the clean up and beautification of the block. André Wallace of Creative Direction Construction & Design (28 E. First Street) brought members of his construction training class and those from his office to assist. He called a few others like Frank Trolio Jr of Trusco Building Supply and Garden Center (47 Grove St) who donated the fertilizer, topsoil and mulch for that project.
Now you know the naysayers, will just say this is Mount Vernon, it won’t last. So I asked Robin, how we can change the general attitude from where it is to where she hopes it will become.
“Change happens when you have something in your mind and in your vision and in your heart, and you just start and you just stick with it. It’s a process, so you continue, you don’t give up or stop,” Robin informs.
I spoke to Frank Trolio Jr, briefly after delivering the soil about why he chose to get involved in what was going on here on Fourth Avenue.
“Basically I have a business in Mt. Vernon and I was born and raised in Mount Vernon!” Trolio tells BW. “Andre and I basically share a lot of the same ideas and vision for Mt. Vernon and it’s time to make a change! Change starts from the ground up, so we have to lead and show the politicians that when people and business come together, things happen!”
In closing after a long hard day, that started off with a brief, but hard rain, which almost threaten to stop the clean up effort before it started and may have swayed some not to get out of bed to help Saturday morning, Robin offers these words of encouragement.
“I keep thinking of Alice Walker’s book, Anything We Love Can Be Saved, and it reigns true, it really doesn’t take much and we really shouldn’t be afraid to put ourselves out there to change anything, no matter how big or small. I encourage everyone to be conscious economically and support the businesses that support the community. It’s very important to look at your money as your power, no matter if it’s a dollar or a food stamp card. Wherever you spend you put it, it’s going to make that particular thing grow. We have to look on the other side of the register and know were making whoever were supporting, were making them thrive. We have a lot of positive things going on, we’ve got a lot of not so positive things going on and I think collectively, we have to have a greater awareness of just that one principle and start to shift our patterns, it’s our power, it’s everything.”
The merchants and business owners of South Fourth Avenue said they are determined to make this a beginning and not just a one time thing. The city came by and contributed a few some wire baskets in the middle of the block for shoppers to throw their trash in, instead of tossing it on the street. The business owners all say they will continue this beautification until it become contagious and everyone gets involved.
BW salutes the business owners, those who donated goods and supplies, those they came out to contribute and everyone else involved in the beautification and clean-up of Mount Vernon, not just of South Fourth Avenue but throughout the city. While the focal point of this article was The Ave between Second and Third Streets, it was a citywide effort and many more than were mentioned here were involved. We salute each and every one of you.
Harmony Designs Furniture & Interiors Inc. just entered into Chase’s Mission Main Street Grants Program where small businesses across the US are competing to receive $100,000 to grow their business. Click here to vote for them.