Habitat, UW are credited for ‘Impact’
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Feb 10, 2014 | 835 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
DIRECTOR of Impact Cleveland Dustin Tommey recently spoke about the new neighborhood revitalization initiative at the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland.
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Cleveland’s generous, loving and caring community attracted Dustin Tommey and his wife back to the South after living in Philadelphia for five years.

As director of Impact Cleveland, Tommey hopes to see the same helping spirit geared toward local neighborhood revitalization.

He updated Kiwanis Club of Cleveland members recently on the initiative and credited the idea for Impact Cleveland to a brainstorming session between Habitat of Cleveland Director Matt Carlson and United Way of Bradley County Executive Director Matt Ryerson.

Carlson noted the placement of Habitat homes determined a family’s success in paying loans.

Added Tommey, “If it is not in a neighborhood conducive for improving their lives, sometimes they get drug down by that.”

He said neighborhood revitalization can lead to a holistic change in the lives of the inhabitants.

The first “challenged community” chosen to receive help is near the old Blythe Elementary school. Tommey described a lot of the attendees of the initial meeting as hardworking, long-term inhabitants interested in changing their neighborhood.

Residents immediately put up road signs and took care of several safety issues around the community.

“They are already there and they are working. We are coming alongside them to help build that community,” Tommey said. “This first year, that is the kind of general neighborhood we will be.” 

Exact boundaries on aid have not been set within the Blythe community. Needs of 200 to 500 homes will be identified through an assessment in March. The needs will shape the goals for 2014.

In addition, Tommey said Impact Cleveland will address five key areas:

n Physical (housing)

n Social revitalization (civic engagement)

n Leadership and Empowerment

n Workforce Development

n Safety

“The hope it is not just a one-year commitment,” Tommey said. “You can see that building communities is not just an overnight thing. Especially in challenged communities, it is a long-term effort.”

Work completed in Cleveland could continue for three to five years. Tommey said the hope is to see Impact Cleveland transform from an initiative to an organization. As an organization, Impact could enact change in communities across Cleveland.

Several organizations and civic groups have begun to show an interest in the fledgling initiative.

“As we envision this, and as the community participates this, I want to facilitate other groups that want to get involve and ask, ‘How could you partner?’” Tommey said before inviting the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland to help in the future.

He ended his presentation with the scripture Jeremiah 29:7, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”