Residents of Glass Farm are the muscle behind one of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga’s newest initiatives. Neighbor Labor, which launched this spring, is a monthly neighbor-lead volunteer collaborative where residents lend their time to help other Glass Farm residents with small revitalization projects.

Callie Burkhalter, Habitat’s AIP coordinator, told us the idea was born right here in Glass Farm where their home repair work has been focused this year. “We kept hearing from homeowners who were a part of our home repair program that they wanted to volunteer at the next project in the neighborhood,” she said. The Habitat staff decided to do something with all the enthusiasm they kept receiving so a volunteer group was formed and Neighbor Labor was born.

The idea is simple enough. Residents who have received help on their own home repairs can choose to volunteer once a month to help with other home repair projects that Habitat is leading in Glass Farm. That way, homeowners who gained new skills and friendships while working on their own home, can continue to use those skills and foster those friendships while working toward a common goal of improving their neighborhood. “It also gives residents a chance to get to know more people from another part of the neighborhood who they might not meet otherwise,” Burkhalter said, “So it’s a very cool social thing going on while we’re getting our work done. Friendships are forming by working together each month.”

Since launching in February, an average of 6-12 Neighbor Labor volunteers from Glass Farm have helped on 5 different home repair projects through out the neighborhood. These hardworking volunteers are doing anything from scraping and painting to repairing siding and even helping with finishing touches on new construction projects in the neighborhood. So far this year, homes on Davenport Street, North Chamberlain Avenue and Taylor Street have received the helping hands of Neighbor Labor. The next Neighbor Labor project is scheduled for the 2nd week of October, and the rest of the year will be weather permitting.

Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Callie said she is inspired to see how the work and mission of Habitat for Humanity to connect neighbors to one another and to local resources is taking on a new life through Neighbor Labor. “It is so great to see neighbors who want to continue investing in a program that they have personally experienced having an impact, and turn that into an opportunity to help others.”

And while elbow grease and sweat equity go a long way to improve our streets, Neighbor Labor gives Glass Farm residents a chance to provide something extra and perhaps more valuable: the act of showing up for each other and being a good neighbor.

For more information about Neighbor Labor please contact Callie at cburkhalter@habichatt.org

ICYMI: Check out this Video from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area’s 4th Neighbor Labor in July where they facilitate needed repairs on homes with neighborhood residents. Neighbors helping neighbors out here in Glass Farm!

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