AmeriCorps Blog: Neighborhood Revitalization & Miss Juliet

Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! I want to start 2017 by introducing you to an amazing woman who happens to be one of the homeowners we assisted back in November. Before I do,  I want to tell you a little more about the program I'm building with Habitat for Humanity of Seminole County and Greater Apopka, Neighborhood Revitalization (NR). While the program is fairly new to Habitat in general, it is already making great impacts in our communities. According to the most recent impact report, Neighborhood Revitalization affiliates now serve more than 61% of the total families served by Habitat in the U.S..

This is BIG news- it means Habitat is able to partner with more people than years prior. This is because NR is about rejuvenating and assisting whole communities. Habitat for Humanity of Seminole County and Greater Apopka has kicked off this project in the community of Plymouth in Apopka. Our program currently offers three services to our community partners: exterior painting, minor repairs, and landscaping.

Which brings me back to one of the homeowners we completed a project for in November, Miss Juliet. A resident of Plymouth for more than 30 years, she moved with her husband Robert to the close-knit community in 1977 and they raised their daughter Julonica there.

"I couldn't choose a better neighorhood to live in," Miss Juliet said, "and what Habitat is doing here is excellent. Kids from the neighborhood can come play in my yard now and it's a safe place for them."

Habitat first partnered with Juliet and Robert in 2014, when volunteers painted the exterior of their home.

This last year was a particularly hard one for Ms. Juliet. She lost her husband to cancer and two other close relatives also passed away. Around this time, Habitat expanded their NR services thanks to a partnership with Thrivent Financial. So on November 19,  a group of volunteers set about sprucing up Miss Juliet’s yard.

The project included spreading 80 bags of mulch along the side of her house. She operates a small daycare out of her home and wanted some extra bedding for the kids to play on. She also asked that we re-insulate the exposed pipes around her home. While we worked, Miss Juliet provided us with a delicious lunch and made sure we were all properly hydrated.  By noon we had finished her yard and she had a brilliant smile on her face. She was grateful for the work and very excited for her kids to see it.

Since then, Miss Juliet has been a great advocate for our program. She has helped to spread the word in the community of our presence and desire to help. I have been informed that she gets regular compliments on her yard now and that her kids love their new play area. We were able to give her a positive note to end her year on, and as small as it was, I was happy to see she found her smile again.

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THIS MONTHLY INSTALLMENT IS WRITTEN BY OUR AMERICORPS MEMBER, CYDNEY CORWIN. DURING HER SERVICE YEAR, SHE WILL BE WORKING ON PARTNERING WITH COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT SEMINOLE COUNTY AND GREATER APOPKA FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOOD REVITALIZATION PROGRAM.