Living and Volunteering in Barnum
Five years ago, someone from Extreme Community Makeover knocked on Victor and Laura’s door to ask them if they needed any help with their yard or the outside of their home. The couple lives in the Barnum neighborhood, one of the eight neighborhoods ECM serves. Lucky for Victor and Laura, they did need help with putting up a retaining wall. The volunteer group also helped them with some weeding. Victor and Laura were so impressed, they decided to become involved with ECM. They both opted in for the Extreme Teams – Laura enjoys being on the Neighborhood Team and Victor uses his expertise on the Video Team.
“I’ve lived in the Barnum neighborhood for almost 8 years. Victor has been here for about 26 years. Interestingly, I lived in Barnum as a kid too and my grandparents lived here,” explains Laura. Barnum definitely has a special place in her heart.
“Living in a neighborhood served by ECM is a better neighborhood because it manifests itself in a greater neighbor awareness. The primary purpose of ECM, is not only picking up leaves or dead branches, but it’s also getting neighbors to know each other,” explains Victor. Neighbors knowing each other creates a safer neighborhood and a more inviting neighborhood. People thrive when they are part of a community.
“ECM has definitely been infectious,” says Laura. She has noticed the neighborhood culture shift by becoming more neighborly. Plus, the couple have reached out to their neighbors more often as a result of being connected to Extreme Community Makeover. “We’ve met more people and we tell more people about ECM. We’ve recommend ECM to so many people,” Laura exclaims.
Victor is a natural storyteller and donates his skills in videography to tell the story of Extreme Community Makeover. “The story of ECM is the action of going into a neighborhood and getting people to see one another and interact with one another. And, to do good things and to inspire their neighbors to get out do good things and to participate further,” summarizes Victor.
ECM has done a variety of projects on Victor and Laura’s block and people have taken notice. It has given homeowners a sense of pride for their homes and property. “Even the ones who don’t get help take pride in their property and neighborhood more,” enthusiastically explains Laura. Extreme Community Makeover has transformed their block and Laura and Victor have reaped the benefits, in more ways than one. “Extreme Community Makeover is tearing down the no solicitation culture, getting neighbors off the couch, turning off their TVs, and learning how to be more neighborly,” says Victor passionately.
Living and Volunteering in Swansea
Extreme Teams member Jean has been living in Swansea since 2009. Just like Laura, Jean is on the Neighborhood Team. “I love my neighbors, honestly. I have really great neighbors,” Jean says. “Frank, my neighbor next door, helps me do things around my house and gives me food from his garden,” Jean explains. Being a part of ECM has encouraged Jean to reach out to other Swansea residents too, neighbors that are not even on her block. Jean is thankful to have the connection with them to share tools and share other resources.
“Last summer, we did some yard work in my neighbor’s backyard. She had a swing set that she wanted to trash, but it was in good shape. So, I gave her my phone number and a week or two later, I connected this neighbor to my roommate, who has a daughter. The swing set was given to my roommate’s daughter to play on,” shares Jean. Jean has definitely seen the tangible benefits ECM has made in the Swansea neighborhood.
Swansea has a lot of families that are established and have been living in the neighborhood for many years. Extreme Community Makeover has been able to come alongside the residents to share resources and help them connect with each other. The neighborhood has benefited tremendously through building relationships among the residents. “It’s great to be able to help a neighbor pick up trash. However, the biggest benefit I have seen is to be able to build relationships with each other. The relationships last past that volunteer day,” admonishes Jean.
Jean has volunteered around a dozen times in her own neighborhood, and she has also volunteered on Work Days in the other seven neighborhoods Extreme Community Makeover serves. Jean has been on the Extreme Teams for two years. She is grateful to be a part of something she enjoys.
Elyria, Globville, La Alma / Lincoln Park, Villa Park, West Colfax and Westwood are the other six neighborhoods where ECM works. If you live in one of these neighborhoods, or even if you live in Barnum or Swansea, consider being a part of Extreme Community Makeover. We’d love to have you. You’re sure to reap the benefits and get connected to your neighborhood community!