Neighborhood Revitalization work is meant to improve the quality of life for residents and support improvements at the home, block and community levels. For us, the Sharswood neighborhood, where we not only repair homes but will build twenty-one in partnership with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, is a natural fit for this emerging strategy.
Our Neighborhood Revitilzation work in Sharswood began after a long period of listening to residents, leaders, and advocates for this North Central Philadelphia community just east of Brewerytown. This summer, three big-ticket items emerged at the forefront of discussions: The Sharswood Athletic Recreation Center, safety, and general neighborhood cleanliness.
It only takes one glance at the 100-year-old Recreation Center in the summer to understand that it is a keystone of the community. Families cool off as they splash through the water at the outdoor pool, middle schoolers dream about the NBA while they play basketball, and young children climb through the playground without a care in the world.
With funding and volunteer support from key partners including Lowe’s Home Improvement, we worked to make improvements to this community gathering place. A fresh coat of paint inside, repaired bleachers, cubbies for the pool area, miniature “free libraries,” an expanded garden and yoga deck provided new life to this bustling neighborhood hub.
Just a few blocks from the Recreation Center, Brenda, Vernell, and their eight-year-old son Trey live in a family home inherited from Vernell’s mother.
The home needed significant work when they moved in. For years they relied on friends willing to do the necessary jobs at low cost, but lacked the confidence to let them tackle some of the most urgently needed repairs – the bathroom, kitchen, electrical, and structural support.
When Brenda and Vernell saw a flyer with Habitat’s information, they had a good feeling that the Home Repair Program would finally be a solution that could move them forward.
The biggest day-to-day change since the completion of the repairs, which included a brand new kitchen and bathroom? “It’s much easier to get in and out of the shower,” Brenda says. “The grab bars make a big difference.”
Eight-year-old Trey benefits from Habitat’s work outside of the home, too, when he attends summer camp at the busy Recreation Center.
Since the completion of their project, Brenda continues to refer neighbors to take advantage of Habitat’s new safety package for Sharswood residents. This Neighborhood Revitalization effort led by the Home Repair Program provides an exterior light, address plate, handrail, and mailbox for homeowners.
“Habitat’s work is incredibly meaningful,” says Brenda. “It’s meaningful for our home, for our family, and for the entire neighborhood.”
With a fully functional kitchen, they can also get back to cooking and baking, which Brenda and Vernell both love to do. Favorite things to make include cupcakes and fried chicken. Most recently, Trey adds, he made sweet potato pie and sweet potato cupcakes with his father.
Brenda endorses their work: “They even made the crust!”