Desiree Nieves, 13, pulls the winning raffle tickets after being honored by Linda Soucy,left, for her work as a volunteer at the Homework Center.

METHUEN — Thanks to the Police Department, the Methuen Arlington Neighborhood has been a safer place to live for the past 14 years.

“We have the best Police Department in the United States of America,” said Linda Soucy, the group’s interim director. “They continue to work to make sure our quality of life has been improved.”

Soucy said during the past 14 years, police haven been responsible for ridding the neighborhood of prostitutes and drug houses.

“We used to have over 40 prostitutes walking through our neighborhood and 36 drug houses,” Soucy said. “I have never seen the rapport of a police department with children like ours. They stop by the Homework Center and continue to improve the quality of life.”

Soucy presented Solomon with a Thank-You award at the group’s annual meeting at Sanborn Hall on Nov. 14.

Outgoing State Rep. Arthur Broadhurst was also thanked by Soucy for all of his help with funding and filing the proper paperwork.”Thank you for all of your hard work over the past 16 years,” Soucy said. “Just know, you’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be calling you.”

Volunteer Desiree Nieves was honored for her help at the Homework Center and for volunteering at the park in the summer. The 13-year-old volunteer said she used to attend the Center when she needed help with her homework and wants to do the same for other kids.

“It helps the kids. If they don’t understand their homework, I help them,” Nieves said. “It’s all about respect, helping and caring.”

Emil Rodriguez also received a Thank You award for volunteering at the center. “Not only does he work at the Homework Center,” Soucy said. “He helps to get the kids to baseball and softball games. Transportation is not the easiest thing to come by in the neighborhood. Emil will drive kids to their games.

Rodriguez, 20, said helping the kids is a simple way for him to give back. “It’s important for the kids to be involved and to follow their dreams,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez is attending classes at Middlesex Community College and will be earning his associate’s degree in graphic design this spring.

Soucy then turned her attention to the adult volunteers, including the “Adult Unsung Volunteer.”

“I don’t know what word to use. Patience, I guess is the only word,” Soucy said of Yawa Duse-Anthony. “She made the mistake of asking how she can help.” Soucy got serious and told the crowd that it was because of Duse-Anthony the group’s newsletter and Web site exist.

Peter Laudani of PJ’s Pizza and his family were honored with the Partnership award for their support to the community and the neighborhood group.

“PJ’s Pizza has been supporting Saturday movies and crafts day for years,” Soucy said. “Peter would call and ask how many children were going to be there and they would provide pizza and meat pies for all of them.”

Mayor William Manzi told the aidience how proud he is of Soucy and the work she has done. “I have been working with Linda since I was on the city council,” Manzi said. “And trust me the best is yet to come.”

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