SPRING CLEANING: Program Revitalizes Neighborhoods

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People are sprucing up a Des Moines neighborhood this week. The Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity kicked off its 2014 season with a Rock the Block three day event.

From home repairs to yard work, the Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood is getting a facelift. Homeowner Barbara Sinnah-Yovonie says, "They're going to make it look better."

Habitat for Humanity volunteers are painting Sinnah-Yovonie's home of 20 years. She says, "I'm a 77 year old women, but I'm still getting blessed. That's the way I feel, that I'm blessed."

Next door, they're re-siding part of her sister's house. She says, “We saw other people getting their houses repaired and everything, and we asked somebody, how do you get in this program?"

The ladies applied for Rock the Block. This is the third year the Habitat for Humanity program is working on homes in their neighborhood. Rock the Block Director Les Stohs says, "We're really interested in safety and accessibility for home owners to make sure they can stay in their homes and be a part of their neighborhood."

Rock the Block will serve more than 100 families this year. Organizers scheduled 16 projects in neighborhoods around the city and need about 2,000 volunteers doing a variety of jobs. Stohs says, "We kind of can appeal to a broad mass of people. We do anything from landscaping, retaining walls, planting trees to painting houses, residing houses, putting doors and windows on the homes."

Homeowners pitch in too. All must financially qualify for the program and provide six to eight hours of sweat equity. Sinnah-Yovonie says, "I'm not going to be doing anything on the houses, but I'm going to go in the office and work."

The retiree says she's looking forward to putting in time at the office after seeing all these volunteers working in her neighborhood. She says, "I feel the love inside me, my heart, to know they do care about people."

In addition to Rock the Block, the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity plans to build thirty homes this year. That's three more than last year. They'll need about 13,000 volunteers for that. Click here to sign up to volunteer.