Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas kicked off the 12th Rock the Block on March 24.

The philanthropic event was held in the Baring Cross neighborhood in North Little Rock. Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas began hosting the quarterly event over four years ago. Rock the Block was created as an effort to assist homeowners with repairs.

“Held quarterly, Rock the Block mobilizes hundreds of volunteers to repair up to 20 homes in one day,” Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Marketing Director Becky Pittman said. “At Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas, our main goal is to make sure that every person has a safe, affordable, decent place to call home. Building community through this kind of service is how Habitat for Humanity hopes to be the hands and feet of God.”

Rock the Block is the largest community restoration event that Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas hosts.

“Rock the Block is part of our Neighborhood Revitalization Program which provides a path for residents, organizations, volunteers, and Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas to come together to further our mission of building strength, stability and self-reliance,” Pittman said. “Rock the Block is our biggest Neighborhood Revitalization event.”

The Baring Cross community was selected as the focus neighborhood for the Neighborhood Revitalization Program over four years ago.

“Baring Cross is our focus community, it has been our focus community since we started the Neighborhood Revitalization Program,” the organization’s Director of Neighborhood Revitalization Andrea Newton said. “This specific Rock the Block has officially put us over the mark for touching 300 homes in this area.”

Baring Cross was selected for a number of reasons, predominately because there are several other resources nearby. The staff at Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas has partnered with other groups in the area to create a larger network of like-minded philanthropy driven individuals.

“We chose the this community because we have Habitat for Humanity ReStore here; Pulaski Tech is nearby; Acts Church is here; and the Salvation Army was here at the time,” Newton said. “We just felt like there were a lot of other resources here, and we could all pull together for the greater good. They also have an active neighborhood association that really wants to make change. The city is also really involved in helping transform the neighborhood too. We hope to show members of this community that people care about them.”

The reciprocated support from the Baring Cross residents has made Rock the Block truly possible.

“The community has been so welcoming; we could not have come into this community and do what we have done without their support,” Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Chief Operating Officer Kelley Sims said. “They had to want us here; and we had to listen to their needs to create a working partnership with them to make a real difference. We do continue to build new houses too, and in fact we do have about 45 new houses here in Baring Cross; but events like Rock the Block allow us to meet a different type of need. We feel we have a very strong commitment and partnership with Baring Cross and the residents here.”

The type of repairs completed range from simple to complex, such as raking leaves, to repairing windows. Cosmetic repairs, along with modifications to improve the functionality of the homes, are completed.

“Through our Neighborhood Revitalization program, we work with our focus neighborhood residents to make needed exterior repairs,” Pittman said. “The main repairs we do include weatherization; safety; accessibility; landscaping; and beautification of homes.”

The overall goal is to provide assistance and encourage homeowners to take pride in their home and neighborhood. The employees behind Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas are overjoyed at the opportunity to give back to the NLR community.

“We love NLR and we are so excited to help the residents of the Barding Cross neighborhood,” Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Development Director Amanda Hodge said. “Sometimes a house just needs a little bit of a facelift, and we hope to provide that with our Neighborhood Revitalization Program, and with Rock the Block specifically.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas, Bill Plunkett, hopes the Neighborhood Revitalization Program changes lives and impacts the community for the better.

“It is really fun to be a part of Rock the Block,” Plunkett said. “I truly believe the Neighborhood Revitalization Program is changing lives, one house at a time. It is amazing to be able to see what our work is doing for the community as a whole.”

Over 200 volunteers were present at Rock the Block in Baring Cross on March 24. The pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Eric L. Alexander, volunteered with members of his church.

“One of our focuses this year at our church is giving back to the community,” Alexander said. “This month I celebrated being the pastor at St. Luke for 21 years. I asked the members of our church to come out and do a community project to celebrate with me. So we partnered with Habitat for Humanity and there was a great turnout.”

Homeowners that are physically able are challenged to assist with the projects, alongside the volunteers.

“We run into a lot of people that want to do for themselves that just don’t have the means; or people that have the means, but can’t physically do it for themselves,” Newton said. “We have a 77-year-old lady who is helping paint her house right now; I wish I had a picture of her pressure washing it yesterday, because it was awesome! Rock the Block also serves as a catalyst for change throughout the neighborhood; which is what we hope for. It often inspires other neighbors to make improvements when they see renovations throughout the neighborhood.”

Melvalea Kindrick, is a 77-year-old resident of the Baring Cross Community. She lives in the same home her father-in-law had built over 100 years ago. As a senior citizen and a widow, she is grateful for Rock the Block, as she is not physically able to complete all of the repairs her home needs.

“In 1903 my father-in-law paid $1,000 to have this house built,” Kindrick said. “My husband’s parents left the house to us after they passed away.”

Kindrick’s husband was a World War II veteran; since his passing she has a difficult time completing all of the tasks she would like to maintain her house.

“My husband was a World War II veteran, and since he passed away a few years back, I have a hard time doing everything on my own,” Kindrick said. “I am a senior citizen and I am sure glad for the help from the volunteers at Rock the Block. They are doing a great service. Today they are helping me replace my attic window and helping me paint.”

Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas is always looking for future volunteers for upcoming Rock the Block events.

“It is such a great way for people in the community to volunteer and come help others,” Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas Chief Financial Officer Tyler Hall said. “We are always looking for groups who are interested to come out and volunteer. The great thing about Rock the Block is it brings out a large group of people from all backgrounds, and we can all come together for one common goal.”

The next Rock the Block will be held on June 9 in the McAlmont neighborhood in North Little Rock. To participate in future Rock the Block events, e-mail volunteer@habitatcentralar.org or call 501-376-4434 for more information.