To have someone come and help you…it’s unexpected. If everyone could expect this, it’d be a different world. -SE Decatur resident Alonzo Villarreal
Each June NeighborWorks American and its local organizations mobilize volunteers, neighbors, friends, and national and local leaders in a weeklong celebration of neighborhood change and awareness that helps strengthen communities and celebrate our collective impact. This year, NeighborWorks Week takes place from Saturday, June 2nd through Saturday, June 9th.
NeighborWorks Week 2018 Highlights SE Decatur on Tenth Avenue
Beginning Monday, June 4th, our annual NeighborWorks Week event will kick off in the East Decatur community on the 1900-2000 block of 10th Avenue SE. Each day, volunteers and staff will descend on the work area with one goal in mind: leave 10th Street SE better than they found it. As the population of the area ages and limited incomes affect homeowners’ abilities to maintain their yards, needs grow for basic landscaping.
Teams of volunteers will donate their time, sweat, and dollars to help trim trees and shrubs, mow lawns, paint homes, and perform minor repairs such as updating porch railings and mend soffits.
Resident Alonzo Villarreal said during NeighborWorks 2017, “To have someone come and help you…it’s unexpected. If everyone could expect this, it’d be a different world.”
This year marks the 5th year that The Partnership has focused its NeighborWorks Week efforts in the SE Decatur area through block and street makeovers. And during the celebration event at the end of NeighborWorks Week, participating residents from the previous years’ events will be recognized with awards given for those who have continued to maintain their yards.
The event celebration for volunteers, partners, residents, and staff will take place on Friday, June 8th at 11 a.m. at the corner of 19th Avenue SE and 10th Street SE, on the event staging area lot.
Fort Payne in Northeast Alabama is the site of The Partnership’s newest affordable housing development in the state. The Hixon Pond project will be the first Partnership development in DeKalb County, placing The Partnership’s affordable housing footprint in 21 counties in the state.
Construction of the project is making great progress toward the projected completion date of late fall 2018. As of the end of May, all major systems had been installed with the expectation of interior projects to begin around the middle of June.
The Village at Hixon Pond is a 56-unit multi-family complex will feature 40 2-Bedroom units and 16 3-Bedroom Units, with 2 units for the sensory impaired and 3 handicapped units. Other amenities include: a community building, exterior security, covered porches, outside storage, a gazebo, a covered picnic pavilion, an outdoor fitness area, a computer center and a covered bus stop shelter.
The word ‘champion’ conjures up different images in the minds of people when tasked with reflecting on what a champion is. Merriam-Webster defines a ‘champion’ as one that does battle for another’s rights or honor. For the communities of Decatur and Hartselle in Morgan County, Alabama, champion means that much and more. During the week of March 26-30, The Partnership’s Meals on Wheels & More program invited Community Champions to join volunteers on delivery routes to meet the customers and engage in conversation with those who receive the daily meals.
Hartselle Mayor Randy Garrison took time out of his busy schedule to join volunteer Alisha Ricketts on her meal route. Mayor Garrison said of his experience, “I truly enjoyed the time I spent last week with (Alisha). She really goes above and beyond with her folks, they all seemed to look forward to seeing her and many of them were happy to talk with us.”
The Community Champions Week is part of Meals on Wheels America‘s March for Meals. During this time, local programs are encouraged to invite local, state and federal officials, local celebrities and other prominent community figures to deliver meals, speak out for seniors and raise awareness for the power of Meals on Wheels. Community Champions week within March for Meals provides local Meals on Wheels programs a wonderful opportunity to engage powerful figures in the community, garner media attention and helps raise public awareness for the nutritional and social needs of seniors.
Monday, October 30, 2017, was not your run-of-the-mill Halloween Eve in Decatur, Alabama. Instead of the moans and howls of ghosts and goblins on Decatur’s residential streets, the air was replaced with the roar of generators and buzzing of lawnmowers. Weatherization Day 2017 in Decatur, Alabama, featured a major undertaking at the home of Partnership Foster Grandparent Billie Dean Stewart and her husband Jerry that featured insulation work, electrical upgrades, landscaping and cosmetic touch-ups.
The Stewarts, who are in their 70s, have been active in the Decatur community for decades. Billie Dean ran her own daycare for more than 35 years and is now a volunteer with the Partnership’s Foster Grandparent program. Billie Dean’s husband Jerry is retired from the City of Decatur and is currently disabled. As often happens with homes of seniors, repairs had become both physically and financially overwhelming. The Stewarts applied for Weatherization assistance years ago. Because of the long waiting list they were not able to have the necessary maintenance done on their home. Thankfully the Stewarts were approved this year to receive the home improvements they so desperately needed to make their home safe, healthy and energy efficient.
The project began a week prior to the actual work day with some pressure washing of the home’s exterior, yard work that involved raking leaves and mowing the lawn, and cleaning out the gutters. The pre-work went rather smoothly until the assessor discovered what could have been a major obstacle to the re-insulation of the Stewart home. The Stewarts’ wiring was determined to be a fire hazard, stopping the workers’ progress dead in its tracks. The Stewarts were forced to stay in a hotel the weekend before the scheduled event while contractors worked non-stop for two days to completely rewire the home.
The virtual roadblocks were no match for the Partnership’s contributing partners, volunteers and staff who turned out in droves to offer whatever skills they had to make Weatherization Day 2017 a success. Shrubs were trimmed, railings painted, porches refinished and planters filled with colorful annuals. All the while contractors worked inside and out adding and replacing insulation throughout the Stewart home. The tireless efforts of everyone involved were given for one simple reason: to serve our community while shining a light on the importance of Weatherization Programs for income-eligible residents.