Tyler Cook, 22, of the Dayton area (LEFT), and Brooke Wells, a Hamilton native, are working this year with the Love Your Block program to make areas of Hamilton more visually appealing. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

Volunteers will be improving Hamilton homes near schools this weekend. Here’s how you can help.

“We’d love more volunteers,” said Brooke Wells, of Hamilton, a member of the AmeriCorps VISTA program that is working to erase blight and make some home improvements.

Workers will be out on Saturday in areas of the East End around Crawford Woods Elementary School at 2200 Hensley Ave. and on June 8 in the Armondale neighborhood along South McKinley Avenue, which is behind Highland Elementary.

The six homes that will receive painting, minor exterior repairs and landscaping are “all centered around Crawford Woods Elementary School, that’s why it’s our location, they’re all within walking distance,” Wells said. “They’re in a close cluster in the surrounding area of the elementary.”

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The repairs will also include mulching, pressure-washing and trash removal. A group of volunteers will pick up trash in the surrounding neighborhood.

“I think we’re going to make a big impact, as far as just connecting the residents with each other,” said Wells, a 2014 Badin High School graduate who finished her psychology degree at Ohio State University last year. “A big goal of the program is to increase resident engagement, and also help them get to know their neighbors better.

“I think it’ll provide that sense of community within the neighborhood, as well as make a physical and visual difference at the end of the day.

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“And since some of these homes are centered right around the school, kids are walking by these homes every day, and I think that will be a big impact as well, making it feel safer and a more inviting place to be, for everyone in the neighborhood.”

Volunteers don’t have to be from the neighborhood itself. All are invited.

Hamilton last July learned it was one of 10 cities that won a “Love Your Block” competition sponsored by the Cities of Service organization and AmeriCorps’ VISTA program. The award came with $25,000 grants over two years for building materials and equipment to help eliminate blight.

People interested in volunteering can go to www.loveyourblockhamilton.com or can call Tyler Cook, the other VISTA program member, at 513-785-7351.

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Volunteers will meet at Crawford Woods Elementary, with sign-in starting at 8 a.m. and an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. The event will last until 3 p.m.

The VISTA program was conceived by President John F. Kennedy and started by President Lyndon Johnson as part of the War on Poverty. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is similar to the Peace Corps, which works internationally.

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