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Community Garden is keeping memory of slain School 17 student alive

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity
A marker in the Tyshaun Cauldwell Memorial Garden on Whitney street  in Rochester

Tyshaun Cauldwell was shot and killed by a stray bullet near his home on Whitney street in Rochester in 2001. His life ended at the tender age of 10, but his memory lives on in Rochester JOSANA neighborhood, where he grew up. 

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity and Seneca Park Zoo joined Cauldwell's mother, Charlotte Freeman, on Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the Tyshaun Cauldwell Memorial Garden; a tree in the garden marks the spot where he died 20 years ago.

Matthew Flanigan, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity, said the JOSANA neighborhood revitalization began as a response to Cauldwell’s death. They wanted to avoid building a house where he passed and reached out to Freeman for input on what to do with the space.

"She had planted a tree at the very spot where he passed, and keeping that tree where it is was very important to her," said Flanigan.

They came with an idea for a garden and collaborated with the Seneca Park Zoo Society for their expertise in planning and selecting the flowers for the memorial.

The garden is just a few blocks from a recreation center also named in Cauldwell's honor. It will also serve as an outdoor educational space for the neighborhood and students at nearby School No. 17, where Cauldwell attended. 

He would have been 30 years old this year, and a lot has changed in the neighborhood in the 20 years since his passing.Habitat for Humanity recently broke ground on its 100th home in the JOSANA neighborhood, and Flanigan said house valuations have increased, and more businesses have opened. He also sees a more tight knit community.

Freeman lives nearby and said there is still some violence but she has noticed improvements over the years. Overall, she's proud of her street, and she can see the garden from her home.

 "It's so wonderful. If I even thought about forgetting about my son, they wouldn't let me and I appreciate that," said Freeman.

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.