Sharon Ward is a relative "newcomer" to the Knoxville 30th Ward Block Watch, having served with the 25-year-old organization as a board member for "only" the past 10 years.
This month, she takes over as block watch president for Lucy Frankwitt who resigned recently after 18 years as the organization's leader.
Lucy asked Sharon to follow her as president, believing her successor has the know-how and desire to succeed at a very difficult job.
"I became interested [in the block watch] because there were problems in the neighborhood and I started to attend the meetings," Sharon said. "I started to realize after listening to Lucy speak at the meetings that the only way to succeed is to be united, but as we have found out in this area, it is very difficult to do that [because of apathy].
"I have rarely missed any meetings [over the past 10 years] and I've really gotten to know people and pass things around in my neighborhood that some may take for granted and that's how a lot of problems arise. I just want to do the things that are necessary to keep the neighborhood together."
Sharon admitted that Lucy had been "hinting" for awhile that she would like her to take over when she resigned.
"Over a period of time we talked about it," Sharon said. "And after thinking about it, I said I would give it a try."
Sharon admits that she doesn't have visions of grandeur for changing the world overnight.
"I don't think that's going to happen," she said with a laugh. "I am going to try and plug along and get more people interested in participating. I think if I can get the attention of enough people, that maybe they can realize that they can make a difference by joining together."
The most recent meeting at the St. Sava Orthodox Church on Knox Ave. (when it was held in September) drew more than 40 people, the largest turnout in several years.
Sharon said she was going to talk to Lucy about the next meeting in hopes of lining up several influential guest speakers among the city's public officials, perhaps even Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. Sharon said she will be spending all day on Election Day working at the polls with Lucy so perhaps they can do some brain-storming about the future of Knoxville while they work.
At that meeting, Lucy criticized Mr. Ravenstahl and other public officials (including Zone 3 police commander Larry Ross) for neglecting and ignoring Knoxville's myriad of problems stemming from loitering, littering, prostitution, drug-dealing, vandalism, public drunkenness, etc.
"We hit the streets and put up notices to let everybody know about our meetings," Sharon said. "People will say, ‘yeah, yeah, I'll be there the next time,' but yet most of them don't show up. But we're going to keep letting them know about it. It will be an encouraging sign if we can get a good turnout for the next meeting (tentatively slated within the next several weeks).
"I'm going to be working with Lucy on Election Day and I hope to get some information from her about her contacts and hopefully have a meeting right after that. Then we'll see how people respond," Sharon Ward said. "I'm going to give it my best shot [to get the public officials and a large number of residents together at the block watch meeting]."
Sharon said she is hopeful that Bruce Kraus, expected to
"I know Bruce and I like Bruce," Sharon said. "I'm looking forward to being able to work with him and his staff. I haven't given up hope for our neighborhood."