ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Telena Banks and members of the Rochester community gathered on Sunday to carry out the ‘Flower Initiative.’ The group planted a multitude of flowers in area of Hawley and Genesee Street, as they looked to beatify city locations impacted by recent violence.
Telena Banks is the mother of Timothy Flowers, who died after a lengthy pursuit with police. After losing her son in a shooting, Banks searched for ways to honor not only her son, but the lives of others died to violence also.
Assisted by family friends and Rochester residents, Banks came up with the ‘Flowers Initiative’ as a way to bring back smiles to the parts of Rochester where violence or shootings have occurred.
“I want my community to be full of brightness, smiles, laughter, kids playing and how can I begin that when a lot of these places have liquor bottles, no grass, dirt,” Banks said. “I just want to give them to the people in my neighborhood and start teaching people what positive affirmations are, to give positive affirmations to each other, it starts with us.”
The first phase of Banks’ mission to beautify the areas hurt by violence took place in the corners of Hawley and Genesee Street.
“I am here to refresh and revitalize a neighborhood that has been kind of traumatized with the violence of Rochester,” Banks said. “To bring people together who possibly didn’t know each other.”
The flowers placed used for the initiative were donated by multiple local organizations, including J&A Farm Market in Avon and The Mission Hope.
Various Rochester members have followed in Banks’ footsteps, and created local events with the goal of finding solutions to the recent violence spike.
Banks plans to plant flowers across Rochester and hopes to expand the initiative in other areas of the country suffering from an uptick in violence.