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Parkway Gardens celebrates community, hope

20 parkway block party 1

Willie "Young Lyfe" Bell, left, and Abe "AO" Ojeda perform a hip hop song during the Break the Cycle Block Party and Concert at the Parkway Gardens in Fairfield, Saturday. The event featured live music, face painting and food for the Parkway Gardens residents. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A5 | July 20, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Mike McKinnon was done with the game, but the game wasn’t done with him.

After writing a letter to his wife from prison that said he wanted to change his life, McKinnon had to take a beating before he would be saved.

“(I was) in that cell screaming for my life while I was getting beaten by gang members,” he said.

McKinnon was rescued by “the same police that I hated,” he said, and placed in protective custody with “nothing but boxers and a Bible.”

“Right then, I gave my life to God,” he said.

The Vacaville man who has done time at San Quentin and Folsom prisons shared his story with a crowd that formed for a free block party and concert at Parkway Gardens, Saturday. Liberty Church’s Break the Cycle barbecue was another in a series of outreach events at the condominium complex that has seen more than its share of violent crime.

McKinnon joined David “Wordsmith” Derf’s Neighborhood Hope Dealer ministry as soon as he left prison and has preached along North Texas Street – reaching out to gang members and helping people get off drugs.

“We bring the church to the streets,” he said.

Tonia Roberts, local outreach coordinator at Liberty Church, said Break the Cycle is a response to all the violence and murders in Fairfield.

“(We use) a neighborhood transformation model that we’re using to impact Parkway Gardens,” she said.

Saturday’s block party featured Derf’s inspirational hip-hop and a receptive crowd that was enjoying the free barbecue and children’s activities, such as a bounce house and face painting, not far from the community pool.

“I think it’s making a significant impact,” Roberts said of Break the Cycle. “Our goal is to build trust with residents and owners and provide access points to resources . . . getting people to be more neighborly with one another and get out of their houses and feel safe.”

Chyna Starr, 13, said she’s tired of the shootings, fights and gang activity that have marred Parkway Gardens. Starr’s cousin, Terrell Brumfield, was shot and killed Jan. 4 in the complex. He was 21.

“I lost family,” she said.

Starr delivered a speech during the barbecue and has hope for a safer community. Since Break the Cycle started, she has gotten to know the people of Liberty Church and the Neighborhood Hope Dealer ministry.

“I learned that no matter what family you came from, what gang . . . there’s always hope . . . to be better,” she said.

Reach Adrienne Harris at 427-6956 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aharrisdr.

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne Harris

Adrienne joined the Daily Republic in September 2009. She earned her journalism degree at the University of Florida in 2005 and has worked at newspapers in Fort Pierce, Fla.; Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso, Texas.
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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • just sayin'July 20, 2014 - 4:47 am

    Just last week, I drove by Parkway Gardens to see 2 cop cars blocking off Air Base/Dover, 3 cop cars inside Parkway, 2 more cars with 2 hoods in cuffs on Pacific. Where was the story on that? Give a hood ganger a BBQ and all you've got are fat criminals. How about giving a BBQ to those of us who abide by the law?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • an' I'M just sayin'July 20, 2014 - 7:44 am

    Maybe cop cars and an arrest shows people at Parkway Gardens are turning out the bad guys. It's not necessarily a bad sign.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 2realJuly 20, 2014 - 7:49 am

    Time for another bbq aye bertani?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Katie I'm loving this BTC GOD BLESSJuly 20, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    I'm very proud of the outcome at parkway gardens yesterday and I'm proud to be part of what break the cycle stands for so " I'm just saying" a lot of people want change and when you peoe in your community trying to make a change all you do is put them down, so instead of that just saying get involved with what's going on in your community when we have our BBQ or different events please come out and see what we do God is so good and is working miracles in our community so please help us break the cycle even if we take this day by day and I will say it was so wonderful to so many people in one community come together as one from different ministries BREAK THE CYCLE

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  • Larry D. Bluford, Jr.July 22, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    I love sitting back looking like a proud part of what my church (Liberty Church) is doing through Break the Cycle. Shout out to Tonia Roberts, David Derf & all of Break The Cycle for the amazing things they are doing in Parkway. I look forward to joining you all once again in the future!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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