Block by block: Salisbury revitalization efforts take all-hands-on-deck approach

Published 12:10 am Thursday, December 1, 2022

By Chandler Inions and Brad Dountz

SALISBURY — BlockWork, Salisbury’s community program where volunteers work together to “to build cleaner and safer neighborhoods one block at a time,” came to the historic 500 block of West Council Street and a group of deserving residents recently.

BlockWork volunteers do many things for each neighborhood block to rejuvenate the community. Things like painting, landscaping and sanitation work are done to the homes and streets of each neighborhood that is selected for the annual event.

“For several years, I’ve been reading about the option for people turning their neighborhoods for remodeling, repairing for everything. If I go around the block I can notice some stuff — I didn’t realize some of the houses were getting worse each year. So last year, I put in for an application and they picked out the one on South Main Street,” said Jennie Davidson, a resident of West Council Street. “I put it in again this year and they chose us.”

People showed up to paint Davidson’s porch and shutters, pressure wash her house and do major repairs to the back porch. The work that was done is not just for cosmetic purposes, but for the well-being of the neighborhood.

“This is a humble group of people. I did the paperwork not just for the beautification of it, but for the safety of our neighborhood because there was a lot of structural work that needed to be done,” Davidson admitted.

Edna Jumper also lives on West Council Street, and she had her front porch fixed, windows re-done, house painted and was gifted with two new rocking chairs.

“It’s a lifesaving thing for everybody. Everybody benefits from it. It’s absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t afford to do the porch myself, I couldn’t do it,” Jumper said.

The actual day of the event really opened Jumper’s eyes to the scope of what BlockWork is all about.

“It was something, I’m telling you. I’ve never seen so many people in my life that was working like that, you don’t ever see that,” Jumper said. “It is a good thing, it really is. It’s just amazing all those people who don’t even know who you are coming to work and help, it’s amazing.”

A sense of community

Pfeiffer University students in the Business Management and Leadership program were among the hands on deck at the BlockWork event. 

Senior Taylor Brigman indicated that while it was a lot of work, it was more than worthwhile. 

“The day that I got back home, I was tired, sunburned and sore, but I was sitting there in the back of my mind, going, ‘yeah, I want to do that again,'” Brigman said.

The tangible property of the work stood out to the China Grove native.

“It made me feel good to put my mark on something,” Brigman said. “I can drive by that neighborhood one day in the future, and I can look at the paint on the side of the house and go, ‘I did that.’ That paint is going to be there for a while, and I can look back on it and remember that I was one of the people who helped it look that way.”

Brigman is in Dr. Christopher Howard’s Survey of Leadership course at Pfeiffer. Many of those students participated in the BlockWork cleanup event.

“It’s a class of about 34 students, and the majority of us were out there,” Brigman said. “When we got out there, everyone was working on different houses. It was a wide range of things. I worked on edging sidewalks.”

The block restoration project was not Brigman’s first volunteer effort.

“I have done volunteer work on various projects,” Brigman said. “I used to go to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and served as student government president there. We did a lot of student volunteer projects there and hosted events.”

Now at Pfeiffer, Brigman has found a lot of value in Howard’s course. 

“We talk about different leadership theories,” Brigman said. “Recently, we were talking about serving leadership. Dr. Howard tries to give us a good view of different perspectives.”

Participating in events like BlockWork has also aided Brigman develop perspectives.

“I got a better sense of community,” Brigman said. “It was really awesome to see everyone out there working together. There were various people from all around Salisbury. It felt good to be working on something with everyone together. I thought it was really great. It made me feel more connected to the community.”

These two rocking chairs make a nice addition to Edna Jumper’s front porch.

After not being selected last year, West Council Street was fortunate this year for BlockWork to come and help their neighborhood.

Edna Jumper is grateful for all of the work BlockWork has done to her home that she was physically limited from doing herself.