Hope House & Gardens fell victim to a break-in and vandalism in the month of November.
Early in the month, someone broke the plexiglass on the door of the Little Library that stands in the neighborhood garden. A couple of weeks later, someone kicked in the door to the Hope House studio.
"These things happen," said VEJ executive director BT Irwin. "It doesn't matter where you are or who you are, this is just part of having property. You just have to plan for it and respond as best you can."
Irwin said that whoever broke into the studio did not damage anything inside and did not take anything. He or she closed and and tried to lock the door when he or she left.
"The break-in happened during an intense cold snap when the temperature was down close to zero," said Irwin. "Our best guess is that someone just needed to warm up."
Irwin said these are the first cases of vandalism at Hope House & Gardens since he joined VEJ in September 2017. He said he believes both cases are random and don't point to a trend.
"We have great neighbors on Greydale Street," said Irwin. "Abdul and his family live a few doors down, Randall lives right next door, and Regina lives right behind Hope House. They all look out for the place like it's their own. People around Hope Park are respectful of Hope House & Gardens."
Rather than add more security (which isn't really possible), Irwin said he would rather focus on looking for ways to better meet the needs of the neighborhood.
"If someone is cold enough or hungry enough to break into Hope House, what does that tell us about the needs of our neighbors?" asked Irwin. "We don't need to be asking how to 'build a higher fence,' but how to remove barriers between people and what they need."