Understanding Binghampton Through Community Voices

The story of Binghampton is best told by the people who call the neighborhood home, including these three unique voices
Over the past few months High Ground News has tried to tell some of the stories of the people working to make a brighter future for the Binghampton neighborhood.
But sometimes the best stories are those told by people who live in the community. Below are the stories of three people who call Binghampton home and just a little peek into a place they call home.
Sandi-Marie Sadler
Binghampton resident 

My name is Sandi-Marie Sadler and I was raised in Binghampton -- in the heart of Memphis. I was a military child, who moved a lot in my early years – Alabama, Denver, Mississippi and Tennessee. Since I moved around a lot I never got the chance to build friendships in the neighborhoods I lived in. Being raised in Binghampton gave me that opportunity. 
A neighborhood is an adoptive family; the neighborhood watches out for one another. Being a product of Binghampton has given me the mentality of wanting better and wanting to do better for myself. I am a strong believer that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and Binghampton is my village.
I have learned a lot from the environment and from the ones who have helped me get to where I am today. I have a sense of belonging and history from my neighborhood. I live in the house that my great-grandparents built and lived in for over 50 years. This is the house that my grandfather lived in when he was young. The neighbors of my youth grew up with my grandfather.
Even if they did not know me by my first name, they knew me as Mrs. Arlena Johnson’s granddaughter. I heard the stories of my grandfather’s youth by those that knew him when he was young. When I am at their house in Mississippi, he is referred to as Dr. Johnson but when I am in the neighborhood – he is still Junior!
I had to learn independence and how to get around the city. I was able to walk to many places including the library and church, but I had to learn how to maneuver public transportation. If I wanted to be active in a production or attend an event, and my mother had to work – I had to be resourceful and find a way.
I really enjoyed being in Midtown because I was exposed to so much – especially dance. Diversity is throughout Binghampton – it is amazing how many different cultures live in our neighborhood. In this global world, it is important to understand each other and appreciate our unique experiences and backgrounds. 
My neighbors taught me how to appreciate and give back. I grew up in a two-bedroom and one-bathroom house, with five people living in the house. My house may be older and smaller than what is “in style” now, but there is a lot of love throughout my home.
It was amazing to me how many of my friends stayed with me because of some challenges in their home. It amazed me how many of my friends wanted to come over to study because they enjoyed having a daily family dinner. That is when I realized a bigger home does not mean there is more love.
In our neighborhood, we really would borrow a cup of sugar from one another. We actually baked cakes for one another. When a child was sick and a mother had to go to work, the neighbor would watch the child until the mother came home. It showed me that we all need one another. 
My neighborhood may not be someone’s first preference to live in, but I guarantee you that my neighbors look out for one another. It is such a blessing to have people who are willing to help you grow spiritually and mentally. I have had great opportunities to help young children and be a mentor to those who are dealing with different challenges that some of us have never experienced.
I can honestly say that being raised in Binghampton has influenced the person I am becoming each and every day. I work hard in college every day to make all those that believed in me since I was in the third grade and moved to Binghampton proud. Many of them are no longer with us, but their spirit lives in the neighborhood and within me.
Andrew Morrow
East High School senior
What's it like growing up in Binghampton? Well for starters I was not even born here; I'm just a kid from Dayton Ohio. My mom got a full ride to the University of Memphis and she said that it was too cold in Ohio so we came here.
As my ex basketball coach Penny Hardaway used to say, “We come from a bowl of people who try to climb to the top but somehow slip and start all the way from the bottom.”
For example, I lost a friend who was not a bad kid but made bad decisions because he had bad influences. He messed around and lost his life. But not all people in Binghampton are bad influences. There are tons of good influences in Binghampton like my favorite coach Desmond “D-Mac” Meriwether who died last year. Ms. Jeanita and Mr. Casey from the (Lester) Community Center and Pastor Shun are some of the other good people.
What keeps us together are the friends that we make – and for me that means on and off the basketball court.
All in all I love my neighborhood. We must let go of the past and keep moving forward and help build a better community. We must share the gospel for the Next Generation. Our ultimate goal to have a BBB – a beautiful blessed Binghampton!
Tarlisa Clark
Binghampton resident and Ladies Night Out coordinator
I’ve been living in Binghampton for 30-some years.
I went to Lester and East and work at the Carpenter Art Garden. I started a Ladies Night Out for the ladies in Binghampton.
I was inspired by a trip that the Carpenter Art Garden staff took to Philadelphia. I met a lady named Faith who told me how she got the ladies from the neighborhood together to get to know one another. So when I came back I had the idea of doing the same thing in Binghampton.
I invited some ladies and now we meet once a month and we talk and listen to music and have a good time.
The ladies thank me for doing this because a lot of them didn’t know each other and many of them said they did not have anybody to talk to. Now they can talk about some of the things they have been holding in. I can see some little friendships happening between some of the women. They are developing a support system.
I really enjoy these times together.
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Read more articles by Lance Wiedower.

Lance is a veteran journalist with more than 16 years of experience in newsrooms in the Memphis area as a reporter and editor, including most recently as managing editor of The Daily News. He regularly contributes to The Daily News, including a biweekly travel column, The Daily Traveler.