In a community making recent headlines for violence, a new story is emerging from Smoketown. A story of hope. Hope for change and for a better future. Recently, parts of Smoketown received a facelift, taking steps to make the community safer and a better place to live. On Sept. 23, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville, in partnership with Thrivent Financial and GE Appliance Volunteers, brought the “Love Your Neighborhood” initiative to the heart of Smoketown. Habitat’s “Love Your Neighborhood” event engages volunteers and residents in exterior repair and improvement projects to increase pride in communities as well as foster a safer and healthier environment for area families.
GE Appliances has a long standing history of community engagement in Louisville. In fact, every fall they partner with a non-profit organization on a large scale volunteer opportunity to give back to their local communities. Last Friday, over 500 volunteers from GE Appliances gathered with local residents and Habitat volunteers to make improvements to the Smoketown neighborhood. With the support of GE Appliances, The Gheens Foundation and Thrivent Financial two new homes have reclaimed vacant lots on Caldwell Street. Six other owner-occupied homes are receiving some much needed repairs. Volunteers repaired and mounted new siding, installed doors, fixed box gutters, rebuilt stoops and decks, poured concrete, cleaned out overgrown fence rows and much more.
Other GE volunteers focused on revitalization projects throughout the neighborhood. They cleaned up alleyways, picking up trash and clearing away brush. Ballard Park received a makeover as well. Backboards, posts and fences all received a fresh coat of paint; and the playground was mulched. The park’s trees and plants were tended to and the volunteers cleaned up trash nearby.
Volunteers noted that it was hard work but “having the homeowners on-site and meeting the area residents was a great experience. We could actually witness how our work affects people.” The park and alley cleanup crews shared that unlike some other projects, “It is inspiring to see the actual progress we made in one day!”
The “Love Your Neighborhood” event also included a lunch for the residents and volunteers. Throughout the day, neighbors came out and worked side by side to beautify and rebuild their streets. Working hand in hand, Smoketown residents are reclaiming their neighborhood, making it a better place to live and play.
Several area residents signed up to volunteer for future Habitat projects saying “What you guys are doing here is a blessing”. They want to get involved because “it is so important to help each other. That’s what will make the difference in this neighborhood and our city.”
The “Love Your Neighborhood” initiative brings a new aspect to Habitat for Humanity’s work. For these events Habitat focuses on neighborhoods where they have a concentration of homeowners. By investing in exterior repairs for existing homeowners, as well as creating new ones, Habitat for Humanity hopes to create a more unified community.
“In the spirit of building sustainable neighborhoods block by block, we recognize the need to help neighbors of Habitat homeowners make repairs to their homes as well,” said Rob Locke, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville. “The partnership with GE Appliances Fall Volunteer Project along with the support of The Gheens Foundation and Thrivent Financial has allowed us to expand on our traditional partnership with new homeowners to create a far greater impact on the community.”
With the engagement of the community and investment from partners like GE Appliances, The Gheens Foundation and Thrivent Financial, Habitat for Humanity is working with area homeowners to transform the face of Smoketown and create a better future for all the families who live there.
This is a sponsored post by Habitat for Humanity. The article was originally published in InsiderLouisville on Thursday, September 29, 2016.