Rock the Block in New London
Home renovation projects bring community together
By John Faucher
A small army of volunteers embarked on New London Sept. 16-18 for Habitat for Humanity’s Rock the Block event.
The volunteer home-repair force of more than 150 people worked on 33 projects through the city during the three-day event.
Many of the volunteers were recruited locally and throughout northeast Wisconsin while some came from as far away as Colorado to be part of the project.
The city of New London worked with Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity to become the host city for this year’s sixth annual event.
New London Senior Services Director Lori Schneider said the group of volunteers met each morning at the Washington Center for breakfast and daily safety talks before spilling out into the community to work on projects.
“Our goal is to bring our volunteer forces and the financial resources of our community together to help beautify homes and make them safer for the long term,” said John Weyenberg, CEO of the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.
“Rock the Block is truly a collaborative effort involving residents, municipalities, local businesses, schools, faith communities and other non-profits,” Weyenberg said during a kick-off event outside the home of Karen and Michael Hidde.
The Hidde’s 100-year-old home located on the city’s east side was in need of repairs.
“We’ve needed a new roof for quite some time,” Karen Hidde said.
“It was something we were looking into, however it wasn’t something we were going to be able to afford on our own,” she added.
The couple has three young children, two of whom suffer from a rare genetic disorder that prohibits their bodies from breaking down protein.
As a result of the disease, both children have required a great deal of medical attention including organ transplants.
Hidde said it’s been difficult to find the time and resources to complete the updates they knew their home needed.
When they saw an advertisement for Rock the Block they decided to apply.
Hidde explained they never thought they would be selected, but they thought it was worth applying for.
Thanks to Rock the Block, the Hidde’s home now has a new roof, siding and windows, new doors with locks, garage doors, light fixtures, motion lights, new house numbers, a doorbell, gutters, soffits, fascia, porch and landscaping.
“It makes it feel like it’s a whole new house. It’s definitely something we would not have been able to do on our own and we’re very grateful for the extra assistance,” said Hidde.
“This has allowed us to not only make repairs to our home, but allowed us to make a better future.”
Weyenberg said the Rock the Block program is designed to help families who own homes in the community but may just not have the resources to do necessary repairs.
“Habitat for Humanity is fortunate to bring together people from the community, volunteers, donors and other financial supporters who help us make Rock the Block happen in communities like this,” Weyenberg said.
“This program is so important because we are improving the lives of not just the family living in the home we are repairing, but also the entire neighborhood and community. It makes a huge difference,” explained Weyenberg.
Mayor Mark Herter thanked the Rock the Block initiative and volunteers for their contributions and the positive impact they left on families and youth throughout the city.
Herter cited data collected from a survey he read following a recent Rock the Block event in another nearby city.
“Ninety one percent of those surveyed noticed more neighbors making improvements on their homes following Rock the Block,” said Herter.
“Seventy-three percent reported getting to know their neighbors better or even meeting them for the first time during the Rock the Block event.”
Herter, who was on site volunteering at the Hidde home last week, said, “It’s been heartening to see the community coming out in full strength.”