HUGHESTOWN — Maria Hoban recalled a time when neighbors in the borough watched out for each other and could sense when suspicious activity was afoot.
“I live right by (Robert Naples Memorial Park) and I saw a suspicious vehicle one evening, and it bothered me,” she said. “Back in the day with my grandmother, neighbors watched after each other. Back then, if something was wrong in the neighborhood, they had your back.”
Hoping to emulate those times, Hoban recently started a neighborhood crime watch organization which met this past Monday.
The organization welcomed Carmen Ambrosino, who worked for the Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services for over 40 years and retired as its CEO.
Ambrosino touched upon personal experiences with those impacted by drugs and alcohol, including a story of a mother whose 17-year-old son died of drugs and of an 8-year-old boy who came to Ambrosino’s house on Christmas Eve one year to thank him for saving his dad’s life.
Ambrosino noticed the impact of his stories as several residents brought out tissues to wipe away tears.
“I find that to share human interest stories with the information I’m giving out is key, so that they understand these are human beings we’re talking about, not just statistics and numbers,” he said.
Although the audience isn’t as experienced in the field as he is, Ambrosino knows anything he can do to help them identify drug and alcohol abuse is welcomed.
He offered free books he authored to those in attendance.
“The books I’ve given them have a helpful listing of signs to look for, symptoms to look for, telltale warning sign; those are really loaded with that type of information,” Ambrosino said.
Hoban hopes to have guest speakers at every meeting, saying the November meeting covered refusing to be a victim and the meeting before that talked about the importance of a crime watch organization.
Monday marked the crime watch organization’s fourth meeting, and Hoban announced membership is up to 49 people. She said about 30 people attended the first meeting.
The purpose of the crime watch is to strengthen the bond between borough residents and the police department.
“That’s really important, to work together,” Hoban said. “It’s all about neighbors coming together and being involved. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, enhance their safety, and returning to old fashioned days.”
In order to begin the crime watch, Hoban went to a borough council meeting and told the members of her idea.
Council member Marie Griglock said the council members were immediately on board with Hoban’s idea and that a crime watch organization is something the borough needs.
“We had somebody that was interested in doing this, and we knew people would come to listen to (Hoban),” she said. “These people are from all around the borough, not just one section.”
Hoban said she’ll continue to spread the word of the organization through media outlets and social media.
The neighborhood crime watch organization meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month, but due to the New Year’s Day holiday, will meet Tuesday, Jan. 2 in the Hughestown Hose Company station, 30 Center St.