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Workers had just started painting her house this past summer when Toledo resident Freddie Grimes could no longer contain her excitement.
“You should have seen her,” recalls neighbor K. LaVerne Redden. “She got so excited; running around the neighborhood telling everyone to come take a look. Then she told me, ‘Oh no, I’m going to need new furniture now.’
“I had to tell her to calm down.”
The women shared a laugh recalling that memory during a news conference with city officials who wanted to show off the results of a 2013 pilot neighborhood improvement program that resulted in the painting this summer of five houses in the London Square/Robinson School neighborhood.
City officials, including Mayor Mike Bell, homeowners, and other residents celebrated the beautification project with a brief outdoor ceremony.
“Often people ask us what we’re doing in the neighborhoods,” Mayor Bell said. “We’re doing everything we can.
“This is about beautification; that people love where they live. But people sometimes need a little help.”
The homes that were painted included Ms. Grimes’ home at 2033 Forest Ave., and other homes at 2031 Forest, 2021 Forest, 1128 Grand, and 1118 W. Woodruff. The paint program will be offered again in spring 2014, city officials said.
“I was so excited about it,” admits Ms. Grimes when she first learned her house had been chosen to be painted. “I’m glad they chose this neighborhood.”
Ms. Grimes, who is in her 60s, and most of her neighbors have lived in the same neighborhood for most of their lives. Many of their children and other relatives often return and settle down there, so there is an air of familiarity in the community, Ms. Grimes admits. That familiarity encourages homeowners to keep their yards and homes looking tidy and keep an eye out for each other’s safety.
“Look at the park across the street,” Ms. Grimes points from the front steps of her house. “Yes, you have a baseball field, but you also have flowers and you can sit back and it puts you in a different place; even if you are in the inner city, nature is still here.
“And it might not look like it, but we all still look out for each other.”
Ms. Redden, the longtime Block Watch president, can testify to that. Ms. Redden, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1959, said residents decided long ago that if their community was going to be successful, “we would have to work together.”
Although the painting of a few houses might not seem like a big deal to some people, in their neighborhood it sends a strong, positive message to everyone, she said.
“It adds to the beauty of the neighborhood,” Ms. Redden said. “It adds to the pride of our residents.”
The painting program was paid for through a $22,900 allocation from Community Development Block Grand funds, said Charles Turnbough, the city’s neighborhood development specialist. The funds were made available for low- and moderate-income families whose income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.
Eligible homes must be insured, owner-occupied residences and property taxes must be current or in payment plans. Homes in foreclosure are not considered.
For more information, contact the city’s Department of Neighborhoods at 419-245-1400.Contact Federico Martinez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6154.