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Hillside volunteers help fighting against crime

By TYLER KORBY
DCN Reporter

Neighborhoods are protected by the police; however, over the years in the Central Hillside neighborhood, police have been lent a set of helping hands.

Three Hillside women have volunteered their time to help prevent crime and make their community a nicer place to live.

These women say they take the extra step to help because of one reason.

They care.

“The Hillside is where I live,? said Lorelei Louks, 73. “I love the Hillside, it's beautiful.?

Louks has been living in the neighborhood for 27 years and is one of the very few who donates her time to help.

Louks, a local community activist, is involved in helping with crime and housing issues, and has witnessed everything from drug dealing and prostitution to alcoholism.

“You name it, I've seen it in the Hillside,? she said.

To help solving these issues, Louks created community block parties in her small apartment roughly 18 years ago.

These block parties, which are still prevalent today, are for local neighbors who get together to discuss community issues, such as crime, and see what they can do to help.

Louks, who has received an award from the St. Louis County Commissioner for her volunteer involvement in her community, has also been a part of many other positive acts.

In one of her bigger achievements, Louks volunteered her time to get the city of Duluth to install more lighting around the Hillside, creating brighter streets, alleys and a more secure neighborhood.

“I am always thinking about community issues,? said Louks. “Any area should be safe for all people.?

Shelly Louks, 52, is Lorelei's daughter, and has also been a big help for the neighborhood.

In the past, Shelly would walk the streets to watch for crime and has been in face-to-face contact with drug deals and prostitution, in order to clear it out of her neighborhood.

“I take pride in where I live,? Shelly said.

Two years ago, Shelly was even threatened outside her home when she confronted a van full of people who were in the middle of a drug deal.

Nowadays, Shelly continues to help by planting flowers, picking up garbage off the streets and running community block parties.

“It doesn't take much to help out,? said Shelly. “It's the little things that add up to make a community stronger.?

Shirley Rose, 70, a member of the community since 1944, has also volunteered her time to help.

“I have always wanted to help my community,? said Rose. “It makes me feel safe and happy.?

Over the years, there have been countless situations where Rose has notified the police of problems occurring in her neighborhood.

No problem was bigger than when Rose notified the police two years ago when gunshots were fired at a building only two houses from hers.

The incident occurred twice within a three-week span near her home.

Throughout all this crime, Rose has managed to keep a positive attitude. “I would do anything to help our community,? said she. “I love the Hillside, I would never move.?

Debbie Isabell Nelson, 55, has been the neighborhood coordinator for the Central Hillside community for just over a year.

Though problems such as drug dealing, prostitution and alcoholism still occur in the Hillside, Nelson can definitely notice a good change in the neighborhood.

“These volunteers have made a big difference in the Hillside,? said Nelson. “They have roots in the neighborhood and that's what makes a community thrive.?

Nelson is not the only one who notices these volunteers' hard work and care for their neighborhood. Dennis Fink, 62, has been the St. Louis County Commissioner for 11 years, and knows how special these Hillside volunteers are.

“All of these places would be nowhere if these people didn't get out and volunteer,? said Fink. “They are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood.?

Neighborhoods need police, but a set of helping hands, such as these three special Hillside women who care to help, can unite a community.

“These people have put a dent into crime,? said Fink. “Togetherness is the difference in a community and these people bring it.?