Mayor, police, community band together to change South Holyoke - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Mayor, police, community band together to transform South Holyoke

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"When I first moved in it was scary to let them go outside," said Adelaida Rivera.

For the mother from South Holyoke, the fear was very real. She couldn't let her kids play outside several years ago, scared of the crime in her area.

But now, she's noticing a change.

"I haven't heard gunshots for a while, so I feel safe letting my kids outside more."

The change hasn't come easy.

Mayor Alex Morse, police and community volunteers met at the Morgan School on South Bridge Street in Holyoke on Monday night to discuss education, business development and public safety.

"We have to show so many people in Holyoke that there's something better to do, get a better life," said Lt. Matthew Moriarty of the Holyoke Police Department. 

Community volunteers are reaching out to children to change their attitudes early.

"We're just trying to really give the kids structure, discipline, being role models for them, educating them," said Ed Caisse who runs the South Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative.

There are more changes to be made.

The meeting held Monday night is just a block away from where CBS 3 watched as Holyoke police recovered heroin and cocaine last month.

But for mothers like Rivera, the signs of progress are a relief.

"There's a lot of new businesses that are going to open which is good for Holyoke and the community," she said. 

For those trying to end the progress being made in South Holyoke, police have a message.

"One, we don't want you, but when we find you here, and we will, we're more than happy to arrest you," said Lt. Moriarty.

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