East Side Pride was founded by Marjorie Crew back in 1999 to help fight drug abuse, crime, and prostitution in Chatham’s east end.
In a statement on Facebook, Crew announced her plans to step back.
“I have worked passionately to bring safety and well-being back to those who live and visit here. It is not perfect and there will always be something to work on but it is our home. I am proud of the accomplishments of this group we call East Side Pride. Collectively we used our voice and physical strength to make change thought partnerships.”
Now, 20 years later, Crew is stepping back and handing over the reins to Bev Webster, who says she’s got some big shoes to fill.
“There was no road map for her to follow, it was just pure guts and determination for sure to try to change the environment, which over these last 20 years you can definitely see the change.”
Webster says the neighbourhood has gone through a dramatic change over the last 20 years, and the group has as well.
“We are more of a community group now, we partner with police, fire, even media to have fundraising events and pay for swimming for kids, have Breakfast with Santa Clause, it’s more giving back to have a safer neighbourhood.”
However, she says should the criminal element in the area rear its ugly head again, the group is more than ready to do whatever it can to help keep residents safe.
East Side Pride will be celebrating its 20th anniversary on July 20th with a street party outside the WISH Centre in Chatham, including a special tribute to Crew.