Neighbors come together to build a better place to live – one house at a time

CHICAGO -- Habitat for Humanity is known for building homes, but in Chicago they’re also beautifying homes and helping folks get ready for winter.

Block Build is a Habitat for Humanity initiative, and with the help of LOWES, dozens of volunteers are working along two blocks of south Normal Avenue at 120th street beautifying the exterior of 5 homes and cleaning up vacant lots.

"We want to get our community back on top again like it was when we were all coming up, when we all moved out here," said West Pullman resident and volunteer Halema Younger.

Scratch the surface in the West Pullman neighborhood, and you'll quickly find a rich history that people like Halema have not forgotten. While she's now a great grandmother, Halema moved to West Pullman 42 years ago. She and other volunteers came out to help cut back and clear away what years of neglect has left behind.

"Pick up a hammer or a nail, and [you] show how much you love your community," Halema said. "It was good to me and my children."

Habitat is also building 16 new single family homes in the neighborhood. The most recent effort was the fourth such "Block Build" in West Pullman.

"We established Block Build to reach out to the existing neighbors in the community and help create community,"  said Jennifer Parks, the Executive Director of Habitat Chicago. "[We] work block to block with those folks and improving their quality of life."

Volunteers will also pass out 800 weatherization kits so homeowners can further improve their own homes. Halema Younger said she can already see the difference.

"We are happy to see it getting beautiful, all the lots getting cleaned up, and it's just making our morale real high, making us feel real good," Halema said.

Habitat hopes to do another Block Build in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood next.