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San Jose woman's fight to keep neighborhood safe receives national recognition

A South Bay woman’s work trying to clean up her neighborhood has earned her national attention.

Ivonn Rivera, known for being a crime fighter taking on one of San Jose’s toughest neighborhoods, is being recognized by the U.S. Conference of Bishops with its highest honor.

“It was so amazing,” Rivera said of being flown out to the nation’s capital to receive the U.S. Conference of Bishops’ new leadership award. “It’s not just mine. It belongs to many leaders that are behind me, teaching how my voice can be a power in the community and all of San Jose.

Rivera routinely walks San Jose’s Cadillac-Winchester neighborhood looking for things that need to be fixed. She does not have to look far for crime.

“We have guns. We have drugs,” she said. “We have people who have broken windows.”

San Jose police said the area is historically impacted by gang and quality of life issues.

Rivera, an immigrant from the indigenous Mexico state of Oaxaca, rolled up her sleeves and got to work after seeing the issues in her neighborhood.

“I can’t be seated just watching around what’s going on in the community,” Rivera said.

Rivera also asked her pastor at Lucy’s Parish for help. She already had the passion to better her neighborhood, so the church armed her with the tools and skills to make it happen.

Rivera began organizing her community and setting up peace walks. This year, she convinced Vice Mayor Rosemary Kamei to walk in her shoes and stroll through the community with her.

“She’s really amazing. She’s done so many great things,” said Rick Rodoni, St. Lucy’s Parish pastor.. “Being able to talk about and identify the problems also helped them to discover how they might go about solving them. So she’s been very instrumental in that.”

Things are now slowly improving in the Cadillac-Winchester neighborhood, with city hall promising more street lighting and other resources.

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Source: NBC Bay Area

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