CLICK HERE to volunteer with Turn Back the Block.
One house at a time—that is the mission of a local nonprofit working to revitalize Augusta’s Harrisburg neighborhood. On Monday, a group joined to celebrate their 8th home dedication thanks to Turn Back the Block.
Harrisburg has been in many headlines this summer, but not for good reasons. The murder of a handicapped man, the following protests and the mayor addressing drug and gang activity put a negative spotlight on the community. This negativity was mentioned during Monday’s home dedication ceremony. However, the comment was followed by the following statement from guest speaker Steven Kendrick, Augusta’s Tax Commissioner.
“The great things that are going on matter too,” said Kendrick. “We’re going to change what happens here in Harrisburg.”
Beautiful rose bushes line the steps to the front porch of Marty Rose’s new home. “My last name is rose so I love roses,” he says. Gardening has been his passion since he was a little boy. “That was my job I had to keep the garden,” Rose reminisced.
Rose now has a home with a greenhouse out back, but fought a tough road to get here.
“Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder,” lists Rose. “I started to self-medicate with alcohol and it turned into some other things.”
A nervous breakdown landed Rose in the hospital—“I said this is it, I’m done. I gotta get better.”
At this point he was homeless so he spent 5 years living in shelters and working with non-profits to get healthy.
“[I was] growing a little further, a little better, getting a little bit better mentally and that’s when I met the turn back the block group.
Turn Back the Block is a faith-based, non-profit organization that works to revitalize the neighborhood of Harrisburg.
Executive Director Lauren Dallas says Rose fought to repair his credit, save money, and finish 350 community service hours. Sweat equity plus financial stability earned him the home he now lives in that was built by volunteers.
“[Volunteers] help us take down these houses in less than a day,” says Dallas. “The F.R.O.G.S. do all of our construction.”
F.R.O.G.S—Faithful Retired Old Guys Serving is a group from Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church. Rose now works with these men twice a day to build homes for future families.
“I have a savior who I call Jesus Christ and a Father God who loves me enough who has brought me to this place to not only be part of Turn Back the Block and part of Harrisburg, but to be able to give back to the community. That’s my calling,” Rose says. “Light in this community is going to push the darkness out.”
Rose is a trained nurse. Now that he is a homeowner, his next goal is to get back in the operating room so he is in the process of renewing his license. He is also working with historic groups and the owners of a run down cemetery next-door. The goal is to clear the area, honor the graves and turn the remaining land into a community garden.
Remodeling? Getting new appliances? Turn Back the Block will take your old cabinets, TVs, dishwashers etc. CLICK HERE to connect with Turn Back the Block.