Longtime local neighbourhood activist and current municipal councillor Marjorie Crew announced on Sunday she’s stepping down as head of East Side Pride (ESP).
She said after two decades of leading the organization, it was time for a change.
At the organization’s anniversary event July 20, she said she will step down and Bev Webster will take over.
“Bev was elected by the members at our last meeting. She shares my passion, and ESP will continue under her leadership into the future. I am remaining with ESP as past chair,” Crew said.
Crew recalled how it all began in two decades ago after a violent altercation in Chatham’s east side. In a letter to the media on July 18, 1999, she said drug deals took place in the public’s eye.
“I am a taxpayer. For my tax dollars, I get to watch certain ladies selling whatever they can for crack (including themselves) … Some of the people that are selling crack have never worked a day in their lives but they can afford brand new vehicles,” she wrote. “I don’t think that you need a college education to figure out that things are not on the up and up here.”
A great deal has occurred over the past two decades. The east side has seen crime greatly reduced.
Crew led a group of other concerned citizens in the east side to form ESP.
“There was no book or manual, just a group of determined citizens wanting safety on our streets,” she said.
They walked the streets into the late evenings to help police their own neighbourhood and deter drug activity and prostitution.
“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,” she said. “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 through partnerships.”
She also said she made some lasting friendships during her time running ESP.
“When I think of the past 20 years, I think of the friends I have now for life, the support and relationship building we have done. But most importantly, the support of my family,” Crew said.
The Voice will print a more detailed story of Crew’s experience as chair of ESP in next week’s paper.