South Fulton Street neighborhood undergoes makeover
By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY - Livingstone track coach Justin Davis found it easy to get a little dirty Saturday to beautify a section of the Fulton Heights neighborhood. Davis brought about 10 student-athletes to give the neighborhood an extreme makeover through the BlockWork Neighborhood Improvement Project. BlockWork is a grassroots program of the Community Appearance Commission's Neighborhood Leaders Alliance. BlockWork is designed to bring community supporters together to promote a clean and safer neighborhood, one block at a time. "I'm originally from Salisbury, so it's definitely good to help out in the community you're in," he said. This was a good project for the group to be a part of, Davis said. Davis and many of the students also volunteered during the United Way Day of Caring in September. Livingstone student Demarquis Howell said it's a good feeling to be able to "give back to a community such as this one." The New Bern native said he'd rather be helping someone on a Saturday morning than doing nothing. There were also some students from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College who created a large sculpture on the lawn of Community Integration Training Inc. beside Mambo Grill. The advanced art class from Salisbury High was asked to create a mural that will be erected on the side of Cut Up & Dye salon. The salon is on the corner of South Fulton and Harrison streets. Art teacher Sean Hunter was contacted by organizers to come up with some concepts to be placed on the mural. The sketches were examined and approved by organizers and salon owner Leila Faries. Hunter and students created a mural with a Caribbean theme, with tropical flowers and birds. The students painted on weather boards using exterior paint that will then be placed vertically under a drip edge. The drip edge will prevent water from running onto the artwork. Volunteers also did landscaping in front of the salon. "It's really cool we get to help the community and really beautify the community," said J.C. Burton, a Salisbury High art student. Faries called the project money well spent. She hopes it motivates others in the area to take care of the neighborhood and "look out for their neighbors more," she said. Employees with Salisbury-based Medina Construction repaired the roof of one home. The owners of the construction company own houses on South Shaver Street that were a part of last year's BlockWork project and decided to "pay it forward," said Evelyn Medina. Medina's husband, Rigo, who owns the business, brought about five employees to do repairs. The couple also brought along their children, Samuel and Sascha, who planted flowers. "We believe in paying it forward and contributing to the community," Evelyn said. One homeowner, Sarah Bailey, was so excited to see the work being done in her neighborhood she couldn't wait to run out and thank volunteers. "It's wonderful. I could hardly wait for today," she said.Volunteers planted flowers, pruned shrubs and built a fence along Bailey's property. Dottie Hoy, president of the Fulton Heights Neighborhood Association, wrote the proposal that led the committee to choose the neighborhood among its 12 applicants for this year's project. Hoy said the neighborhood applied last year, but was not chosen. She believes the many photos she included with the application helped. The project "will help the neighborhood strengthen its existing businesses," including Ibiza Deli and Mambo Grill, and"that's always wonderful," she said. The city and the committee did more repairs than Hoy ever imagined for the project, she said. "It's a good community effort. It's a great way to bring neighborhoods and schools together for the day," said Barbara Perry, chairwoman of the Community Appearance Commission. Salisbury Urban Design Planner Lynn Raker said she hopes the project will become an annual event. "The main thing is to get the neighborhood working together," Raker said. The street was closed for much of the day so volunteers could work safely. Saturday was also national Make a Difference Day. The Community Appearance Commission sponsored the event. BlockWork is funded with grants from the Margaret C. Woodson Foundation, the Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, a cash award from USA Weekend Magazine, Newman's Own, the Points of Light Foundation and contributions from property owners. Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.