May 2019 Neighbor Spotlight Hazeline Umstead
Congratulations to Hazeline Umstead! She is the City of Durham’s Neighbor Spotlight for May 2019. Ms. Umstead was recognized for her work in the Lyon Park neighborhood. After living here previously, she moved back from New York City in 1993 and has served as the President of the Lyon Park Neighborhood Association for over 20 years.
The neighborhood was more like a family when she was growing up. “I always said everybody lived in different houses, but everybody was one big family.” They had everything in the neighborhood. One neighbor had cows and eggs, another neighbor cut hair and they had a grocery store in the back of the gym at Lyon Park. When Ms. Umstead was in New York, Dorkas Bradley took care of the neighborhood and did an incredible job. But when she became ill, Ms. Umstead didn’t want to see the neighborhood go down. “I could never fill her shoes, I started to walk in my own shoes.”
Historically, Lyon Park was a Black neighborhood, but it has started to become more diverse, as more White families are moving in. The neighborhood doesn’t have the same family feel anymore, but Ms. Umstead is working hard to bring everyone together. She loves the people and their love for the community itself. That is why she started having parties including National Night Out and Bumblebee parties. “Anything I could do to bring the fellowship of the people together.” She also hosts neighborhood meetings at the school and keeps people informed with updates from the police department and the neighborhood.
However, getting millennials involved has been challenging for her. She wants to get them away from their cell phones and iPhones to know the value of community, help with the community garden and introduce them to what is already happening. “I hope we become more family like again- Whites and Blacks come together. We can put behind us a lot of negative stuff. Have more love in the neighborhood.”
Ms. Umstead is a tireless advocate for her neighborhood, reaching out to local officials to improve the appearance and safety of her community. She helps to maintain Langley Garden located on Kent Street, using her own funds to help plant vegetables that are available to our community. Through her efforts a traffic light was placed at the intersection of Kent Street and Lakewood Avenue because of the many accidents that had occurred there over the years and she has been working with Parks and Recreation to replace a light in the park to improve safety. Ms. Umstead loves the community she lives in and strides to make it a better place to live and raise strong families.
Thank you Ms. Hazeline Umstead for all you have done and continue to do in the City of Durham.