Why hundreds of volunteers were cleaning up a Fairfield Twp. neighborhood this weekend

Nearly 500 Habitat for Humanities Rock the Block volunteers from within and outside Butler County made 21 exterior home repairs, painted 47 fire hydrants and worked to fill 11 32-cubic-foot Dumpsters on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in the Five Points area of the township. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

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Nearly 500 Habitat for Humanities Rock the Block volunteers from within and outside Butler County made 21 exterior home repairs, painted 47 fire hydrants and worked to fill 11 32-cubic-foot Dumpsters on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in the Five Points area of the township. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF

Nearly 500 Habitat for Humanity volunteers from Greater Cincinnati descended on Fairfield Twp. Saturday to give its most blighted area some care.

Saturday was the fifth Rock the Block event for Habitat. A sea of volunteers rallied in the parking lot of Disciples Christian Church on Tuley Road to hit several work sites to clean up yards and make several facade repairs. In all, volunteers made 21 exterior home repairs, painted 47 fire hydrants and filled 11 32-cubic-foot Dumpsters.

“I think it really will be a big boost for the neighborhood,” said Fairfield Twp. Trustee Susan Berding. “I think it’s a strong community. There have been some families that have been over here for generations and I think it’s just the boost that they need.”

PHOTOS: Hundreds gathered to help Fairfield Twp.’s blighted Five Points neighborhood

Fairfield Twp. resident Katie Foley said “it was pretty powerful” and “it means a lot” to see the hundreds of volunteers help the blighted area. She volunteered on Saturday to help the area and meet other community members.

“If you don’t have the money to give back, you can at least give your time,” she said.

She went to school with kids who lived in Five Points and said they “had a lot of disadvantages and obstacles,” so she hopes the township’s efforts to improve the blighted area will provide “kids and future generations a chance at those opportunities.”

Habitat of Humanity Greater Cincinnati President and CEO Ed Lee said it was “awesome” to see the volunteers and the energy level of those volunteers.

“Hopefully it’s something that’s electrifying and becomes a catalyst in the community, that the residents feel that and it inspires them to lift themselves as well going forward,” he said.

Habitat’s Rock the Block is a one-time event for communities designed to give community leaders not only the inspiration but the know-how of duplicating on a smaller scale a community cleanup. The township does conduct a spring cleanup day, and Berding said a second cleanup day could be done for the Five Points area.

“I hope with the progress we (made Saturday), that the momentum continues, and I really think it will be a great thing for the township,” she said.

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Habitat will be back in the township for at least three new home builds, and possibly more, Habitat and township officials said. Later this year, Habitat will have its first home build on Allstatter Avenue. The property was first acquired by the township and is now owned by Habitat through the Butler County land bank. The land bank owns more than a dozen township properties and the township trustees of its community improvement corporation owns three others.

Lee said rebuilding a neighborhood like Five Points, which has been declined for years, “is not going to happen overnight.”

“It will take years to pull it back. But home ownership matters,” he said. “Homeowners are more likely to get involved in their community, more likely to be civicly minded to contribute in their community, more likely to keep their grass cut and litter picked up. .”

Debbie Ault, of Fairfax, said the day meant “a lot” to her and her husband, John, who’ has had five heart attacks since 1988.

“Hopefully it doesn’t just stop here,” she said. “Now, hopefully, neighbors will get out and help one another. Isn’t that what it’s about, helping on another.”


FACTS & FIGURES 

Nearly 500 volunteers from within and outside Butler County ascended on Saturday on Fairfeild Twp.’s Five Points neighborhood as part of Habitat for Humanities’ Rock the Block. Here are what the volunteers did in a few hours on Saturday:

• Made 21 exterior home repairs

• Painted 47 fire hydrants

• Filled 11 32-cubic-foot Dumpsters with trash and debris

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