#BuyBackTheBlock Texarkana Team

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There are very few families from Texarkana, no matter race, without some sort of family history that doesn’t include Rose Hill or its sister communities Beverly and New Town. In the early nineties, Rose Hill was the place to be. It was a diverse community that seemed to paint the best picture of Texarkana’s future. It was a vibrant community of individuals from all ages, races, and backgrounds, thriving and living together peacefully. Half of the middle school students within Rose Hill attended Pine Street, and the other half attended Westlawn at the time. A couple of notable athletes like Craig Monroe(MLB) and Nathan Vasher(NFL) have roots in Rose Hill. They could surely attribute the love and support from friends and others in the community as part of their professional and personal success.

National best-selling author & publisher, Armani Valentino, attributes much of what he learned in Rose Hill as preparation for life. Therefore, upon arriving back in Texarkana full-time in 2016, he decided to contribute to the community that nurtured him and helped him become a man. The easiest way he felt he could contribute was by regularly cleaning up the trash near W. 18th and Bowie street. In the early nineties, before Summerhill Road connected to Lake Drive, the main roads that ran through Rose Hill were Milam and Bowie Street. According to Mr. Valentino, residents regularly mowed their yards, alleyways were clean, and trash was not the regular decorative accessory often seen along the streets. There was a certain level of pride taken by the diverse demographic of residents in Rose Hill. “We truly enjoyed living in Rose Hill, and took pride in being from Rose Hill,” says Valentino.

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A lot has changed since then. Many of the businesses, churches, schools & community centers, and hundreds of homes filled with love and direction are memories of the past. Some are still there, but many have been torn down or burned down, leaving hundreds of empty lots, overgrown brush, and trash. For the past 15 years, the revitalization efforts have been a challenge for all who have attempted to do so. This has caused many businesses to leave and many natives to Rose Hill to sell their homes and leave.

In recent years, the most successful efforts have been led by Antonio Williams of the Texarkana Texas Housing Authority. Under his leadership, they have preserved and improved many of its current housing to ensure residents most in need of housing are not left without adequate accommodations. An independent effort from Valentino has also made some headway and inspired others to come back and invest in the Rose Hill area. Valentino, founder of the #BuyBackTheBlock Texarkana initiative, started by doing mini cleanups in a four-block radius. He stated, “The amount of trash that somehow accumulates on the streets of Rose Hill is absurd. We have to do better, and the businesses around the area have to do better in making sure Rose Hill is clean.”

Last year, during the pandemic, Armani Valentino and others with roots from the Rose Hill area – coaches Justin Coats, Robbie Junior, Shawn Dangerfield, and Shantikwa Smith – planned and executed the first large community cleanup, specifically for Rose Hill, in many years. The event was supported by individuals and a few organizations like Believe in Beverly, The Scholars, and businesses in the community like Langford Roofing.

This year’s event will be held on Saturday, July 17, 2021, from 9:00am – 1:00pm. Meetup will be held at Tiger Stadium at Grim Park on W. 13th and Summerhill Rd. Volunteers will meet at the parking lot, pray, have words of encouragement, and commence to clean throughout the Rose Hill community. It is sponsored in part by Majestic Living, Inc. and VRALIAM Tech, LLC.

It is advised that you wear comfortable shoes and clothing that covers your legs. Gloves, rakes, and trash pickers are still needed. Lowe’s will provide the commercial cleanup bags, and Waste Management will provide the trash containers. Men with trucks are being asked to show up to pick up the bags and heavy items.

Valentino believes, “Rose Hill is truly “The Heart” of the city. Therefore, we have to take care of it. Help us keep Rose Hill clean by coming out and serving the community this Sunday.”

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