Matthew Green
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Pottstown volunteers gearing up for ‘Rock the Block’ cleanup Friday

POSTED: 04/11/16, 2:00 AM EDT

POTTSTOWN >> Eleven community organizations will join forces to begin the makeover of a Pottstown neighborhood on Friday.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., more than 150 volunteers will pitch in to clean, paint, repair and beautify the exteriors on the 300 and 400 blocks of Beech, Chestnut, and Walnut streets.

It’s called Rock the Block, an initiative of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, and it’s the kickoff of a Neighborhood Revitalization Program modeled after Habitat’s successful work in Norristown.

“Habitat recognizes the ongoing struggle in Pottstown. By building a coalition of community groups, we can develop a plan and programs together to lift the community up for years to come,” said Marianne Lynch, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County.

“Rock the Block is just the start, and it will be a fantastic day that proves what Pottstown can accomplish when people work collaboratively,” she said.

For more than six hours, volunteer teams will complete deck and stair repairs, landscaping, spruce up efforts, and more in conjunction with Pottstown CARES community cleanup day, a partnership of the Hill School, the Borough, the Pottstown School District and Montgomery County Community College.

Rock the Block enlists the Pottstown CARES organizations along with Genesis Housing Corporation, Glocker and Company Realtors, New Eden Community Development Corporation, Mosaic Community Land Trust, Phillies Fire Company, Pottstown Fire Department and Victory Christian Life Center.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen so many different community groups joining forces to improve the community,” said Sheryl Miller, Pottstown Borough Council Vice President.

“Having Habitat, a nationally-recognized organization, come in and provide support is an important signal. Pottstown is a great town with lots of potential,” said Miller. “We need to lift ourselves up from within, just like the families that Habitat supports. Their Neighborhood Revitalization program can make this happen.”

Neighborhood Revitalization works at the grassroots level — with people in the community determining the goals, according to a release from Habitat.

It responds to community aspirations and empowers residents and community partners to help neighborhoods grow and thrive to achieve those aspirations. Collaboration with residents, government officials, the faith community, community non-profits, and others is key to its success, Lynch said.

It starts by repairing the physical, helping mend critical exterior and interior issues with homes through the Critical Home Repair program or by addressing similar challenges of a smaller scale with A Brush with Kindness Home Preservation program.

“We’ve been working in Norristown’s Cherry Street neighborhood for two years. There, we’re addressing concerns such as blight, repairing and preserving homes, creating a neighborhood association, tackling crime, helping children have a safe place to go after school, and more,” said Lynch. “We’re very excited to bring this approach to Pottstown and begin to address the Borough’s ongoing struggles.”

In Norristown, Habitat volunteers have rehabilitated 22 homes, helped Habitat complete 13 critical home repairs, painted 72 stoops, and repaired and maintain Cherry Street Park.

After forming the collaboration for Rock the Block, Habitat hosted a community meeting in February where residents identified neighborhood priorities and concerns such as safety, crime, and beautification.

Habitat will be surveying Pottstown to inventory conditions while finishing the rehabilitation of 430 Walnut St. — a Habitat home.

It is also planning ten critical home repairs, twenty Brushes with Kindness – and acquiring another property to refresh in the zone.

Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County’s mission is to eliminate substandard housing. In partnership with individuals and organizations, Habitat constructs simple, decent affordable homes and empowers hardworking, low-income families to become homeowners by providing no-interest mortgages.

Habitat also completes critical home repairs, provides financial literacy and life skills classes, and is revitalizing neighborhoods.

For more information, call 610-278-7710, email ebowers@habitatmontco.org, or visit www.habitatmontco.org.

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