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What is Neighborhood Revitalization?

MUNCIE, INDIANA, USA (05/22/19) - South Central Community Garden funded by Urban Light CDC...South Central and Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhoods are being revitalized by 8twelve, a coalition of community partners, including Greater Muncie Habitat for Humanity. Carolina Guerrero/Habitat for Humanity International

I remember where and when I heard the term “Neighborhood Revitalization” for the first time. I was in a Leadership Grand Strand meeting while the Executive Director from Habitat for Humanity of Horry County gave us a presentation. My immediate thoughts were: “Where do I sign up?” I saw myself talking to residents, establishing relationships and building leaders. Truth be told, I have always had a passion for helping others and giving back to my community, but life and fear stopped me. Fast forward to two months ago, life and fear are no longer a factor. I am now a full-time employee of Habitat for Humanity of Horry County, in their newly formed Neighborhood Revitalization department.

You might be wondering what Neighborhood Revitalization (NR for short) means. Well, for starters, it is important to consider what you think of when you hear those words. Some may think it means fixing up a house, while others may think it’s changing the infrastructure of a neighborhood. There are so many thoughts on Neighborhood Revitalization, and I think it’s important to clearly share what it means to Habitat for Humanity. NR is simply acknowledging a neighborhood’s desires by working with residents and partners to improve the quality of life. By reading this definition, does your mind wonder to what you desire for your neighborhood to be like?

Let’s move to the next important question, why does Habitat’s NR department exist? Neighborhood Revitalization exists because it helps to fulfill Habitat’s mission of seeking to put God’s love into action. Habitat for Humanity doesn’t just bring people together by building homes but also by building communities and giving hope. The work of building communities is about connecting neighbors to one another and nurturing the ties sustain relationships.

As you are reading, you might be wondering how we plan to revitalize neighborhoods. We do this by empowering, developing and supporting resident leaders, partnering with them to achieve the dreams and desires of the neighborhood, all while measuring the impact. In doing these things, residents have the capacity to improve the quality of life in their neighborhood.

There is a term for this approach. It’s called “asset-based community development” (ABCD), which simply means supporting residents who recognize they have gifts and skills that can be used to achieve a better quality of life for their neighborhood.

I challenge you to close your eyes and envision what you want your neighborhood to be like. How awesome would it be to bring your dreams, your desires, gifts, and skills to your neighborhood? For the neighborhoods we work with, we get to see this transformation to fruition. 

– Danielle Lewis, NR Coordinator

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