Volunteers focus on South Ellis Street for 11th annual BlockWork program

Published 12:05 am Sunday, October 24, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Salisbury resident Shanelle Logan screamed when she found out her neighborhood was nominated for the annual BlockWork program.

“For me, personally, it was an answer to prayer,” Logan said.

Logan, a homeowner on the 720 block of South Ellis Street, was one of nearly two dozen in the neighborhood along the 600 and 700 blocks of South Ellis Street that received various exterior repairs during the city’s 11th annual BlockWork program. BlockWork was formed by the Community Appearance Commission’s Neighborhood Leaders Alliance group to bring residents and community volunteers together to build cleaner and safer neighborhoods one block at a time. Projects typically include carpentry, sidewalk repairs, landscaping and general clean-up across various neighborhood blocks chosen from a nomination process.

The scope of this year’s event was expanded thanks to a $100,000 grant from Lowe’s 100 Hometowns initiative, which allowed the city to pay for bigger improvements, like Logan’s new porch. Lexington resident and Lowe’s employee Donald Lovett said the porch was originally carpeted and stayed wet 90% of the time, with rotten wood below. Lovett replaced it with a new wooden porch.

Lovett also helped remove old bushes along the front and side of the porch and installed a retainer wall, flowers, a tree and gravel for the driveway. Lowe’s donated to Logan a set of four white rocking chairs.

“Being a single mom with three kids, I didn’t have the budget to do the home repairs that needed to be done,” Logan said. “So when I got that letter in the mail from the city saying that our block was nominated, I probably screamed. I screamed and called right away.”

Home repairs are common for Lovett, who often volunteers his construction talents with programs such as Habitat for Humanity and senior adults with limited incomes who come into Lowe’s for materials.

“It gives you a good feeling inside being able to help people out,” Lovett said.

Site manager Sue McHugh, who’s only missed one BlockWork event since its inception, said it was fun to see the scope of improvements made possible this year with the Lowe’s grant. One of the homeowners’ front yards was being used as a parking lot, but it received a complete transformation from volunteers and Lowe’s employees during BlockWork.

“The gratitude is immense from the people who live here,” McHugh said.

City of Salisbury planner Emily Vanek, who began working here last year, said her interview was around the time of planning last year’s BlockWork program and was one of the things that attracted and excited her about the city.

“It’s good to see that a city cares and that we pull together volunteers to help out,” Vanek said. “It’s nice to help out your neighbors and pass it forward.”

This summer, the city was one of 100 locations selected from more than 2,220 submissions for a $100,000 grant from Lowe’s 100 Hometowns initiative, which celebrates Lowe’s centennial. The national retailer started in Wilkesboro in 1921. A total of 100 projects across 37 states were chosen to rebuild areas prone to natural disasters, repair housing, restore community centers and revive green spaces.

This year’s event also included an additional workday during Lowe’s Red Vest Day, which was Tuesday. Urban design planner Alyssa Nelson, who manages BlockWork, said some work in the neighborhood will continue next week. The grant also allowed the city to pay contractors for some of the larger installments and construction projects.

Organizations such as the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP, Lantern Realty, Frito Lay, Cheerwine, Space Walk of North Charlotte, Juice Life, Mean Mug, Sidewalk Deli and Waggoner Realty donated food, snacks and drinks. Organizations including Graham Roofing Inc., Adcock Masonry and Sapp’s Guttering provided supplies. The Catawba baseball team also volunteered this year.

“To have this come from a prayer to reality has been absolutely amazing,” Logan said. “And not just for my house to be blessed, but for the entire block … a lot of hardworking families are here. So to see them get blessed like this has been absolutely amazing.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.