Renewing Neighborhood Spaces

1.pngOn a spring morning, Felix and Mary Vallejo, both retired, began their daily routine by sitting on the porch of their home to enjoy their morning coffee and watch the rush of cars and buses on 5th Avenue in the Floreciente neighborhood. As the rush slows down and the neighborhood grows silent as kids are at school and adults are at their jobs, Felix and Mary’s minds begin to fill with ideas for the property they just purchased that sits directly across from their home.  They took the risk of purchasing the dilapidated building and surrounding property. Much to their surprise, the risk rewarded resources in the form of community engagement, participation, and a neighborhood attraction that would create a permanent impact in their neighborhood.

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Improving Homes to Transform Futures

Picture1.pngAs Roberto Gutierrez works tirelessly on a Saturday afternoon to improve a neighbor’s house, he knows he is not alone. By his side are other volunteers who have come together to help their neighbors. With a smile on his face, Roberto recalls the moment he saw his own home renovated, which included new siding and improvements to his walkway. He remembers feeling inspired by the possibilities that these new updates would mean for his family, and he is glad to help other homes in his neighborhood get renovated as well. 

 

 

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Teamwork on a Pathway to a New Career

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Carolina, Ilda, and Karen worked in unison to remove their “patient,” Amber, from a hospital bed and onto her feet. The exercise received high marks from their peer evaluators – Mariela, Jessica, Elizabeth, and Maria – as they coached each other on the official steps in proper bed removal. Although Amber was not an actual patient and could have easily sat up and walked out of the bed herself, the eight students were in training to becoming the newest bi-lingual Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) in the Quad Cities.

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John Deere Mentors Make a Difference

first.jpgOn a hot Tuesday in early September 2017, Lincoln-Irving Elementary 5th grader Johnathon walked into the teacher’s workspace and slowly placed his lunch tray down at the semi-circle scattered with teacher supplies. Although he was told he would be a part of a mentor program to spend time with adults, he was quite unsure about what was about to take place. He only understood that today he didn’t get to sit with his friends at lunch, today he would sit with a few “grown-ups” and share his lunch. He didn’t expect that soon Tuesday would be his favorite day of the week.  

 

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Mercado on Fifth: Marketing Opportunities

mercdoat_night.jpgFloreciente is one of Moline’s historic downtown neighborhoods and its largely Hispanic population is home to many aspiring entrepreneurs – including both storefronts and home-based businesses, such as making enchiladas and tamales, or selling sports accessories. Unfortunately, economic and cultural barriers have limited the capacity for these entrepreneurs to accomplish their dream of starting a business. These barriers include language, unfamiliarity with how to learn which government regulations apply, not having the capital to start a storefront, and limited time to devote to their business because of a day job. When Global Communities began working in Floreciente in 2015, these conditions highlighted the importance of creating incubator spaces and other opportunities for community members to test and explore new business ventures.

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Funding Collaboration and Engagement

The Floreciente neighborhood is one of Moline’s historic downtown neighborhoods, full of vibrant people and promising businesses, kids_painting.jpgand as a low-income neighborhood, it attracts a range of non-profit organizations eager to provide assistance.  These non-profits provide a wide range of services including housing, education, child care, health care, and immigration assistance, but all these are programs to help individuals, with few to engage the community as a whole.  Although individual assistance programs are an important part of revitalization efforts, a strong neighborhood also needs opportunities for its people to engage with and build up a sense of community cohesion.   

 

 

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Floreciente Association Emerges

Floreciente is a largely Hispanic, lower-income neighborhood in Moline, IL.  The close-knit area has a history of organizing around cultural issues and standing up to gangs. But as the community has aged, no young leaders have emerged to take their place. Their weakened organization became apparent in 2015, when the neighborhood could not generate enough support to keep the local elementary school from closing.  But they knew they needed to organize and present a unified voice to public officials to ensure decision-making that reflected the needs of the community.  To this end, the Flourishing Communities program is working in the Floreciente neighborhood working to create long-lasting, community-led change by organizing and educating residents and business owners to participate in community and economic development decisions affecting their neighborhood. 

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Sustainable Partnerships in Floreciente

Floreciente, one of Moline's historic downtown neighborhoods, is full of vibrant people and promising businesses. As a riverfront though underdeveloped neighborhood, it is key to the City of Moline's 2014 Comprehensive Plan, and it has attracted a rand of nonprofit organizations eager to engage with neighbors, businesses and the city in recent revitalization efforts. Because of economic and cultural barriers, the area has at times been isolated from the rest of the Quad Cities area. Local organizations have faced difficulties vying for neighbors' limited free time to help improve the area, collaborating with like-minded groups, conducting bilingual outreach, and maximizing limited resources. As a result, funding for projects may not be maximizing results.

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Welcome to Floreciente! Moline's Historic West End

voting.jpgLate last year, 13 members of the Floreciente business community gathered to kick off discussions on the future they envision for their businesses and their community. They met in a newly converted warehouse where the heating had not yet been installed, but the chill in the room from the fall air was quickly forgotten as the shop owners, entrepreneurs, and contractors warmed to each other's ideas of what a vibrant Floreciente business community could look like (see picture on left).

Floreciente is a historic neighborhood of Moline, with a long tradition of welcoming immigrants, including Greeks, Scandinavians, and most recently, Mexicans – to live and work in the neighborhood.  Several small businesses have thrived in the neighborhood over the years, including a Mexican restaurant/grocery store, a jeweler, and an award- winning barber. But other small businesses, like many throughout the country, struggle to make ends meet; several empty storefronts serve as a harrowing reminder to those that did not make it. 

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Always Start with Petunias

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valleybefore.png (BGCMV) has been an integral part of the Floreciente community since it opened its first club in the neighborhood in 1994.  Their presence has since expanded to include a Teen Center as well as administrative offices for the entire Quad Cities area.  Whereas the BGCMV is highly regarded among community members for their youth programming, their Administration Building – located in the center of the neighborhood – needed to be repaved to deter people from leaving their cars unattended on the lot (image of lot from Google Maps above).

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