[Blog Post by Sarah Teare, Community Development Director]
We use the word “Community” a lot here at Habitat. The Washtenaw County community is very supportive of our work; we renovate homes in several communities within the county; Habitat volunteers are a community of people committed to changing lives. With the many ways that word is used, there is one definition that resonates with me. Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. We see this definition of community in the way that volunteers bond with each other when working on a home, in the relationships between Habitat homeowners as they work together to reach their goals, and in the creative and innovative ways that staff and board members challenge all areas of the organization to grow and succeed. And, in the Gault Village Neighborhood in Ypsilanti, the residents are living out this definition of community by strengthening relationships with each other around common interests.
In 2013 Habitat facilitated two Community Planning meetings to bring Gault Village neighbors together to discuss the assets of their neighborhood and to find out what would make it an even better place in which to live. Through fellowship time with each other, neighbors came up with ways to get to know each other better and ideas to improve the look, feel, and pride of their neighborhood.
Here are some of the common interests that turned into actions!
Neighborhood Walk-Abouts: Once a month a different street in Gault Village is highlighted, and residents on that street agree to be “Hosts” and be outside their homes with a small treat and/or information to share with other neighbors who are encouraged to “walk about” the neighborhood and get to know their neighbors better!
Yard & Garden Club: Gault Village has several amazing gardeners, and they are sharing plants with other neighbors and offering tips on how to keep lawns and gardens beautiful. Members of the club attended Growing Hope’s Garden leadership Training Institute, they designed a brochure to promote their efforts, and held their first plant sale in June to raise funds for neighborhood entrance gardens and signs.
Partnering with Erickson Elementary School: The first annual Fall Clean-up Day was held in November with over 35 students and residents raking leaves in the neighborhood. Monthly Yard & Garden Club meetings and the plant sale are held at Erickson, and the club has helped the school with gardens and plantings.
While Habitat helped bring people together to start the discussions, it is the Gault Village Community that is dedicated to being the change that enhances the quality of life for those who live in their neighborhood.
So, how do you fit into the notion of “Community” within Habitat? We’d love to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734.677.1558, ext 130.