There is an African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” And not only does Shor Denny believe that it does, she has created a program to help raise the children of Moreno Valley in safety and security.
Shor started Moreno Valley’s “Safe Routes to School” program in 2011 to help keep children safe as they traveled to and from school. The program organizes parents and community volunteers to work parking lot patrol, perform crossing guard duties, and monitor access points in neighborhoods surrounding the schools.
The program was inspired in part by the 2010 kidnapping and murder of Norma Lopez, a 17-year-old Moreno Valley High School student who was abducted while walking alone to a friend’s house after summer school classes at Valley View High School. Norma’s sister found her personal items and signs of a struggle in a field on her route, and a neighbor’s surveillance video showed the teenager being followed by an SUV as she walked away from the school. Five days later her shirtless body was found in a remote field three miles from the site of her abduction. A man who lived across the street from the high school was arrested for the murder. The community was alarmed that a teenager could be abducted so easily and without witnesses during the middle of the day.
Shor not only wanted the streets safer for her child, she wanted them safer for all children.
She started Community Now’s Safe Routes to School program which focuses on creating physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools, reducing automobile speeds and establishing enhanced crosswalks, pathways, and crossing guards. Through their community education program they teach students safety skills and promote driver safety campaigns. And they host events and contests to encourage students to be safe walkers and bicyclists.
Shor has turned tragedy into an opportunity for a safer community for everyone. Her village began with only 15 volunteers and has grown to 60. But Shor believes for all children in the Moreno Valley area to truly be safe, that village would need to increase by 240 volunteers to cover all schools in the district.
The VOICE wants to hear from you…
I.E. Grassroots Leaders
This week’s feature highlights the work and commitment to community of Moreno Valley resident Shor Denny. Denny, who started Moreno Valley’s Safe Routes to School program, is one example of today’s ‘Grassroots Leaders;’ a person who has worked and/or formed an organization or group to change the lives of people in the Inland Empire area. Now it’s your turn. The Voice wants to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org the name of someone you consider a Grassroots Leader in the Inland Empire for a possible feature in the VOICE.