Community members in Parkersburg’s District 4 are doing more than simply wishing for change, as they work to improve their neighborhood. A group, which has earned the moniker “Neighbors,” meets each month to find new ways to turn their corner of the city into the place where people want to live.

Those who remember the well-maintained, family-friendly, blue-collar neighborhood as it was decades ago are well aware of the potential hiding behind the dilapidated buildings, empty lots and signs of vandalism that dot the neighborhood now.

But thanks to the Neighbors, and some pretty creative ideas, signs of hope dot the area as well. The folks at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Charles Street thought outside the box and found a way to encourage more regular police patrols of the area, by making its wireless Internet accessible to officers who are now able to do their paperwork from cruisers parked in the area.

“(Neighbors) is a great initiative,” said Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin. “We embrace it because they want to be involved, and that’s a good thing.”

Books can now be borrowed and shared at the Little Free Library at the church, which also boasts a community garden. And the group is looking to create a safe path between Jefferson Elementary and the Boys and Girls Club – a kind of “walking school bus” for the kids.

As Jefferson Elementary Principal Allen Laugh said “the entire community should be proud … for the fact that there are so many people working together.”

Indeed, this is the kind of effort it will take to bring life back to areas that have taken beating after beating over the past couple of generations.

More community members should join with the Neighbors in their effort – the next meeting is at noon Aug. 12, at Good Shepherd Episcopal. They would certainly welcome anyone who hopes to make a difference.