Soon they were each active in the neighborhood, Jim helped in organizing people to work together on projects. Mary became involved in the pre-school Montessori program (originally KH Parent Teacher Co-operative). Others involved in making the Montessori pre-school a reality, Joan Rail, Mary Eleanor O’Neill, Peggy France, and Betty Bright.
For 2 years, Mary volunteered full-time in the Kennedy School Library. Originally, there was no space for the library. So, Mary and the other volunteers moved the books into the lunch room and put them away during lunch. After lunch, they unpacked the books again. Ernestine Jackson and Harriet Queen were also influential in these efforts, among many others. Jim was president of KHCC and Mary served as a volunteer in various community efforts.
A major effort took place in the homes of various KH residents on a monthly basis, the production of the KHCC Newsletter. Folks would gather, with children participating, folding, addressing and then delivering the newsletter. It was a key vehicle to keep everyone informed of the events and issues in the community. Her daughter, Melissa Wolfe McNally, a member of the Kennedy Heights Development Corporation, remembers these events were fun for the children, too.
Mary said they were firm believers that if you live in a community, you pitch in and help out; it’s part of being a good citizen.
Through the years they established friendships with many as they worked with others to realize goals. She/they learned from others who were different from themselves, believing that everyone gained in the process.
Some changes in the 50+ years she has lived here are that the little shops closed that were a part of the community, Fourth of July parades were a common occurrence and now sees a second generation of residents return to live here. Her son, Kevin, has counted 23 people who live on surrounding streets that have returned because they valued living in Kennedy Heights.
Mary is glad that the KH Montessori Pre-School, the Progressive Dinner and Sap Run are still a part of the neighborhood as she knows first-hand the importance of being involved in them. She hopes they continue as they give opportunity for residents to meet and get to know each other.
When Mary was asked how she described KH to others, ‘friendly’, ‘diverse’, ‘people get to know each other’, ‘it’s a great place to live’ and ‘all are welcome’ were words and phrases she used. Her hope is that it stays diverse and welcoming. She looks forward to the Cultural Center opening and new business development in the neighborhood. She’s heartened to know that Pleasant Ridge and Kennedy Heights are working together on projects, a welcome change.
To new residents she offers the wish that they become involved in the neighborhood in some effort, since it continues the traditions of making new friendships, working together on issues that affect Kennedy Heights and maintaining a welcoming community.