A couple of years ago, Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project Director Kim Roberts came up with the idea of putting teams of volunteers to work on a single street to sharpen the focus on how The Fuller Center’s work can change a community.
The idea became the Block of Blessings, which this week came to fruition with the help of the Church of the Nazarene’s Alabama South district and other local churches who have sent teams of young volunteers into Fuller Center founder Millard Fuller’s hometown of Lanett, Alabama, where they are working on South Second Street all week.
“My vision was for somebody to ride down this street and go, ‘Wow!’” Roberts said Wednesday at the midway point of the work week. “That’s what I wanted, and that’s what’s happening. You can see the impact it has. The city said they’ve had people call and say, ‘What in the world is going on South Second Avenue?’ So we’re excited and we already had two people come up to me and say, ‘Kim Roberts, if you do this next year, I’ll have you a hundred kids.’ So, next year we’re looking for this to be really big.”
At least 45 youths from area middle and high schools have been working since Monday on South Second Street, where they are working on five different houses while sprucing up yards all along the street.
“We started on Monday morning at 8 a.m., and here we are on Wednesday, and this street is already looking so much better,” Roberts said. “We had the mayor come out, and he’s really proud. All of our lunches and suppers have been donated by different churches. We are wearing bright orange T-shirts, and the whole street just looks orange. It’s just been a community thing. We’ve got like 10 churches that have been engaged with meals and things, so we’ve really involved the whole community in this.”
Using young volunteers for the Block of Blessings not only gives the project the energy needed for a street’s worth of work, but it also builds relationships in the community and encourages a new generation to play an active role in helping others in need.
“They have a lot of energy, and the homeowners are loving these children,” Roberts said. “These kids are taking time to visit with the homeowners. That’s been really positive. They have mingled with some of the neighborhood children and gotten some of the children out to help them do some painting.
“I just think it’s been great,” she added. “Every night they’ve been fired up about the stories the homeowners have shared with them. It’s a lot like a grandma situation where the ladies are just loving these kids. And the kids are loving the homeowners and playing with the children from the neighborhood.”