Guest post from Ryan Roth
Community Development Manager
Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity
Two years ago, 500 hundred volunteers worked together in one neighborhood out of a desire to spend their efforts in a worthy cause — to improve a neighborhood for residents who were unable physically and/or financially to make the necessary repairs themselves.
We at the Greater Fox Cities Habitat for Humanity anticipated eight to 10 projects when we started engaging the neighbors, through Rock the Block, but ended up with 31 exterior residential home repairs and community projects. The need was greater than we had anticipated and we got to work on more neighborhoods, relying on a $300,000 Bright Idea Fund grant we received from the Community Foundation to start the program and allow us to make meaningful repairs for the selected families and improve the quality of life for all residents. The repairs included replacing windows, roofs and siding repair, removing trees, leveling porches and working in parks.
By the numbers alone, Rock the Block has been successful at starting revitalization in neighborhoods across Outagamie and northern Winnebago counties.
- Seven neighborhoods;
- More than 185 projects completed;
- More than 2,400 volunteer shifts;
- Nearly 15,000 hours donated.
But the numbers are many times an incomplete measure of the impact of the work that we do together.
- Laura, a bus driver from Menasha, no longer needs to place buckets in her home to catch water leaking from the roof above during every storm.
- Julie, a hairdresser and mother, replaced her 17 original windows to dramatically reduce her heating bills.
- Ken, a retired Appleton native, needed new windows and his peeling wood soffits covered in aluminum. His one leg restricted his ability to do maintenance on his home but, with these repairs, he will now be able to age in place.
- Neenah residents Josh and Elena had original windows with lead-based paint and asphalt siding. We safely replaced these items and improved the home for their growing family.
As the work continues in 2018 in Little Chute, Kimberly, Neenah and Menasha neighborhoods, we will continue to remember those who are making this possible. On behalf of Laura, Julie, Ken and so many others – thank you to those who support our community and the Community Foundation.