MEMPHIS, Tenn. — College students and ex-convicts came together to clean up a Frayser neighborhood Friday. It’s part of a program called the “Leadership Exchange Project” with the University of Memphis. The students and former felons worked on St. Charles Drive and Dellwood Avenue.
Armed with trash bags, students from the University of Memphis and the University of Tampa teamed up with the Blight Patrol to make a difference in the Frayser community.
The two unlikely groups paired together to rake leaves and pick up trash, but their mission was more than just about cleaning up a neighborhood.
“I think it’s more so of bridging the gap, us being ex-felons they being young college students, you put us both together and they get to learn about us, we get to learn about them,” Keith Dunning, a member of Blight Patrol, said.
Blight Patrol is made up of ex-felons who work to beautify the city.
Dunning spent 18 years behind bars.
“I went to prison for trafficking drugs,” he said.
On Friday, he worked alongside Mackenzie Rector, a student with the University of Tampa. She’s in the area for the next few days working with University of Memphis students to volunteer in the community. She said the neighborhood clean-up is inspirational.
“It speaks a lot about people, people can change no matter what type of mistake you made, nobody is perfect. You can always correct it and do better for yourself and other people,” Rector said.
Rector encourages others to step outside their comfort zone and find a way to give back.
“I think it builds character and helps you to experience people that you might not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience,” she said.