It was a busy Saturday morning in North St. Louis with more than 200 volunteers stepping into action to help revitalize their community.
It’s part of a summer wide initiative called “Clean Sweep” organized by the Better Family Life Cultural Center, who partners up with Habitat for Humanity.
In June, volunteers beautified the JeffVanderLou neighborhood, and in July they addressed the Hamilton Heights, Wells-Goodfellow and Pagedale neighborhoods.
Volunteers help cut down dead trees, pick up debris, yank out dead weeds and board up abandoned homes.
Volunteer William McHugh used to work for Habitat for Humanity and helped build dozens of homes in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood almost 20 years ago. “It's good for me to come back and get dirty again,” said McHugh.
McHugh shares a similar story to another volunteer, Ellen Dennis, who also helped with those Habitat homes. She said this event is an opportunity for her to reconnect with old friends.
“It just so happens the first house I ever worked on is right next door to where we're working right now, and I just got to reconnect with the homeowner. It was very exciting,” said Dennis.
Volunteers came from all over to help, but many who stepped up to make a difference live in these neighborhoods themselves.
“We figure we got to go to the bottom, which is in our more challenged neighborhoods and engage residents and then began to stimulate positive energy and bring the spirit back to St. Louis," said James Clark, event organizer with Better Family Life Cultural Center.
Much of the day was spent on beautifying abandoned homes in hopes of a long term benefit to people who live along the entire street.
“It attracts people who probably are not good for the neighborhood when you let things go to ruin, so by showing some effort maybe you can start stopping some of that bad behavior,” said Dennis.
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