H&R Block Improves Neighborhood Green Space, Bringing Diverse Community Together
Kirk Stewart has been a resident of Old Town Louisville for roughly five years. Beyond having one of the largest collections of Victorian houses in the country, Kirk Stewart says, one of the things that he loves about his neighborhood, is that it’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state or the country. “You have millionaires living next to people who are Section 8 housing.”
The neighborhood is known by residents for being walkable and welcoming. When he first moved to the neighborhood, Stewart says he started talking to neighbors and was asked to join the neighborhood association board pretty quickly. As president of the Toonerville Trolley Neighborhood Association, Stewart is committed to improving the community for all his neighbors, renters and homeowners alike. “Inner cities have lots of challenges. It’s my belief, don’t just complain about them, get involved and try to make a difference.”
One of the things Stewart wanted to do to make a difference was to create usable green space for the neighborhood. “About half of the people who live in the neighborhood are renters. A lot of them don’t have yards, or places they can go to relax,” he shares. “We wanted to add green spaces to the neighborhood so people could enjoy them.”
Stewart nominated the Fort George Park in Louisville for a Make Every Block Better project, supported by a partnership between H&R Block and Nextdoor, as a way to bring the community together. Ft. George is a half acre of land owned by the neighborhood association and named after George Gray, a Revolutionary War solider who is believed to be buried there. The neighborhood association already used the park space during the pandemic to hold meetings, have barbeques and ice cream socials, but wanted to improve the area, add games, gardens, and more to create a more inviting space. Eventually, they hope to use the park to host outdoor movie nights, music and food trucks.
“I think the Fort George space is great for meeting people, whether that’s an actual meeting, or just for meeting new neighbors…that community space really fosters those friendships,” said Elyssa Smith, a Toonerville Trolley Neighborhood Association board member.
In October, neighbors came together for a volunteer day and celebration, working together to put the finishing touches on the park. H&R Block and Nextdoor provided Toonerville with new landscaping, a shed with gardening supplies, fencing to separate the historic areas of the space, and a community grill and seating making the space more welcoming. Toonerville was one of 10 community improvement projects selected in 2021 as a way to uplift communities by strengthening connections between neighbors. H&R Block has a goal of bringing positive change to 500 communities in all 50 states by 2025, investing in programs supporting small businesses and helping communities thrive and connect. Learn more about Make Every Block Better.
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