CEDAR RAPIDS — Eden United Church of Christ organized a day of food, games and crafts on Saturday in a southwest side neighborhood that many say hasn’t been the same since the flood of 2008.
“The church is here for a reason, to reach out to the community and a lot of these people are really struggling here,” said Dwight Mayberry, a co-organizer of the event. “We want them to know we are here to help them and this church is here for them.”
Eden United Church of Christ also sustained heavy water damage during the flood and the building could not be used for more than a year. Residents at Saturday’s event said they were glad to see the church return, but the neighborhood still isn’t the same.
“It’s very different, very sad, because I’ve lived in my house for 48 years and I lost some neighbors that moved away because of it,” said resident Carol Olver.
Fellow resident DeAnn Yirkobsky said the apartment she lives in was damaged during the flood and she is still dealing with the aftermath. But, Yirkbosky said, she’s glad to see the neighborhood recovering.
“It’s just wonderful to see it all come back to life,” Yirkobsky said. “I think the people are awesome.”
Dozens of people attending Saturday’s event had the opportunity to meet their neighbors, local authorities and members of the health department.
“We want to show the kids that the fire department and police department are their friends,” Mayberry said.
Residents spent the day fishing for toys, playing basketball and making jewelry. Families walked away with treats, prizes and painted faces.
“We went to Taylor Elementary School and the secretary said what they need is No. 2 pencils, pink erasers, and glue sticks. So we’re giving a lot of those out plus other things,” Mayberry said.
Several donations helped the church put on the event, which ended with a concert. Organizers now hope to make the event an annual tradition.
“This is a great neighborhood, it’s got a lot of potential,” Mayberry said.