Parkovash Park is a favorite gathering spot for residents of South Bend's Northshore Triangle neighborhood.
Joyce Pinkerton has lived in the Triangle for 44 years, and remembers when the park wasn't necessarily the jewel of the neighborhood, but rather, the scourge.
"Years ago we had a problem here, in the evening," Pinkerton says. "We had a basketball court here and were getting all kinds of people here late at night."
Pinkerton says the influx of strangers at night led to an uptick in crime. So the residents took matters into their own hands.
"The neighbors just got together and took the basketball hoop down. So we don't have that problem anymore."
The neighborhood is now safe and quiet at night, she says.
Pinkerton is among about two dozen neighborhood watch captains in the triangle. "We have a good neighborhood watch program here. Everybody looks out for everybody else and we have a wonderful neighborhood president who, whenever anything happens, she gets a call from the crime prevention unit. She gets on the computer and lets everyone know, and everyone else starts calling everybody else."
But it wasn't a crime that led to Pinkerton's involvement in neighborhood watch, rather a life threatening illness.
"I had just finished going through chemo. I wanted something to keep me busy, to keep my mind off it and I saw this article in the paper and I thought 'I'd like to get interested in that, get involved in it,' and that's what I did. Been there ever since."
She's managed to help create a culture in the triangle where just about everyone keeps their eyes peeled. And one time, it nearly landed a friend in jail.
"The guy across the alley had some wooden pallets," Pinkerton tells. "And he hollered at me one day and he says 'hey, do you know anybody who could use these wooden pallets?' I said, 'yeah, I have some friends with a wood burning stove.' Pinkerton's neighbor even volunteered his wife and their truck. "So she came over, pulled in the alley, she and I loaded all the wood pallets on the back end of the truck."
Seems innocent enough, right? Not to an alert neighborhood watch group. "By the time she got to the end of the alley, the police were waiting on her. Somebody called it in right away," Pinkerton laughs.
Pinkerton isn't afraid to speak her mind, and gets annoyed with people who complain about crime but don't get involved in neighborhood watch. She says it doesn't matter what town you live in, your neighbors and your neighborhood need you: get involved.