By Amy Silverman
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A few blocks from the EMPACT office stands Paiute Park, emblematic of a proud community. Here EMPACT shares a small, cinder-block room with the police, who stop by once or twice a day to write up reports. After chatting briefly with the newly arrived volunteers, Willen walks to his cruiser and produces some Polaroid photographs of the park taken last March.
Then the high wooden fence that snakes along the park's eastern border was dappled with graffiti, the work of a Valleywide gang called the "Wetback Posse." Today the fence is unblemished, the grass remarkably free of cigarette butts.
"The city gets rid of the graffiti within 24 hours," Willen says, "but the people here appreciate this park. They appreciate it a lot more than they might someplace else. And the people from EMPACT, they do good work. They definitely make my job easier."
The policeman watches as the four volunteers walk away, his head slowly nodding in approval.
"There's a lot of good things going on here.