Summer 2021

Celebrating the Wins

We are “cultivating overlooked places one neighborhood at a time.” To break that down even more, we are “cultivating overlooked neighborhoods, one house at a time, one group at a time, one person at a time, one day at a time.” The big picture has to be broken down into these smaller pieces so that we don’t get overwhelmed. A phrase we have been focusing on this season has been “celebrate the wins.” It’s easy to allow uncertainties and challenges to keep us from celebrating success. But we have to remember that even if our successes are small, they still matter.

On that note, we are currently celebrating the completion of the Hardwick project! This beautiful renovation took a lot of work and we are so grateful to everyone who participated in this project. We want to say a huge thank you to United Way of the Ocoee Region and the City of Cleveland’s Community Development Block Grant for sponsoring this project. We also want to thank Property Builders, Robert Roe, Chattanooga Gas, Conley Electric, York and Miller Floor Co., Lowe’s Lighting Gallery, Lowes, Gary Rymer, Wicked Wood Shop, Gold Line, Ooltewah Nursery and Landscape Co., and every other supporter, contractor, and volunteer who made this home possible.

Before
After

Celebrating Hannah

“In that moment 5 years ago, it was very dark, very rough, but I’m grateful for those dark moments because it brought me here and it’s shown me that there’s always hope and there’s always a light at the end of every storm.” – Hannah Stewart

What does rock bottom look like? Maybe it means losing your kids. Maybe it means contemplating suicide. Maybe it means feeling completely hopeless. All of this sounds pretty dark, but for Hannah, all of these things were reality.

When Hannah hit rock bottom, she had been addicted to painkillers for ten years. Five years ago, she joined an organization called The Women at the Well to move toward recovery. This gave her the time, mentorship, and space that she needed to heal from years of addiction and trauma.

Reaching Stability

Since then, the challenges Hannah had to overcome to get to where she is now have been great. She worked very hard to obtain a fully furnished apartment, regain full custody of her sons, and secure a stable job. She did much of this with the help of Project Free 2 Fly, a local nonprofit that supports and empowers women in recovery.

The next step toward stability for Hannah was finding decent, long-term housing. That’s where City Fields came into Hannah’s story. Hannah knew renting an apartment was not a long term solution for her and her kids. Paying rent became increasingly frustrating. Her rent payments doubled within the time that she lived in her apartment. Beyond that, her apartment complex felt like a dead end. The area was marked by drug activity and police reports, and she could see how that environment negatively impacted her sons. The place that people live and grow up matters. Hannah wanted her kids to take pride in and feel secure wherever they lived. When Hannah first saw her home, before renovations had even been completed, she said she felt a sense of peace. She knew deep down, this was home. Without City Fields, Hannah would not have been able to purchase a decent and affordable home at this point in her life. Having a home that is fully renovated, structurally sound, and in a developing community, changes the trajectory of her life. It’s also an investment that will impact her family for generations to come. Hannah closed on her home last week, and could not be more at peace.

Hannah’s story shows that stability is possible for those who have hit rock bottom. It may take years. But it is possible. We are incredibly proud of Hannah for taking those steps toward stability and inviting others into her story. We are grateful to be a part of her story.

“To look back and see the goodness of God and where I am now and where my kids are, is good,” says Hannah. “Some people say, you can’t ever change if you make these decisions. But I can change. People can change. If there’s breath in the body then there’s hope for the soul. God is powerful, and he has {taken} everything broken and given back in abundance.”

Celebrating Graduates

Make way for these welders! Ten students just completed a 2-week intensive course of job-readiness and welding training. They are now certified in MIG welding and have the skills needed to obtain a stable job.

It’s not always easy for students to get to this class. They often have to take time off work or figure out childcare. Some students have to meet with their parole officers during class time, and other students have transportation issues. While we do what we can to minimize these barriers, we can’t do everything. So when these guys and gals choose to show up to class every day despite these challenges, we know they’re serious about making a change in their lives. Because these students have not given up, we are not giving up on them. We are prepared to walking alongside each student as they move forward in their career and their life.

Celebrating Community

Food brings people together. It’s been a great summer of Wednesday night potlucks in the park. City Fields, Matthew’s Table Church, and BOCA collaborate to make these weekly gatherings possible. But without our neighbors, there would not be a reason to gather. We’re thankful for neighbors who show up, hang out, and bring great food for the whole neighborhood to enjoy.

We have potlucks going on for the rest of the summer, so feel free to drop by and eat, play a game of soccer, and see friendly faces!