ROCK THE BLOCK
Jennifer woke up at 4 a.m., two hours before her alarm. Today was the day her century old house was getting a fresh coat of paint and she was too excited to sleep. When volunteers from Thrivent Financial arrived around 9 a.m., Jennifer was already dipping her brush.
The tidy little ranch with a Victorian flair is one of three homes on Jefferson Avenue that were spruced up as part of Rock the Block in Woodland Heights. Thrivent Financial sponsored the homes and paid for a fleet of lawn mowers and trimmers. More than 100 volunteers from CoxHealth swarmed like worker bees to mow yards, cut back landscaping and clear brush. In all, 17 projects were completed.
One home in particular was getting consumed by weeds. Volunteers pulled vines off the two-story house and cleared the ground. The homeowner, a soft-spoken elderly woman named Joann, was amazed by the buzz of activity. When the volunteers were told to stop (they did not want to quit), they took group pictures and lingered in the front yard. Joann was heard saying to the team leader, “I’ll miss you.”
Cleaning one street in one day improves the appearance of a specific area while building community. Residents on Jefferson Avenue were encouraged to get involved to help their own neighborhood. This is Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) in action.
On the day of Rock the Block, there was a clear sense of community as volunteers worked alongside residents. For those residents who weren’t able to pitch in, providing water bottles or a simple “thank you” was enough. Homeowners and renters on Jefferson Avenue got the message that people in Springfield want this neighborhood in Zone 1 to be a safe and vibrant place to live. Progress will come one day at a time and one block at a time.