By: Taylor McPherson, Director of Communications and Community Engagement
Empowered community members pave the way for thriving communities. Author Margaret J. Wheatley put it best when she wrote, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” A prime example of this investment is through one of our mission partners: Alcy Ball Development Corporation (ABDC).
Located in South Memphis, the historic Alcy Ball community is home to more than 4,600 residents. Alcy Ball began as a predominantly middle-class, African American neighborhood. It was filled with numerous families, supporting various churches, schools, and businesses. However, over the past 30 years, the area has declined with families, businesses, and schools moving elsewhere. Since 2000, the community’s population has decreased by 15.8%. In addition, home ownership in Alcy Ball has decreased by 29% and 10.6% of homes stand vacant.
However, Alcy Ball Development Corporation is stepping in to restore the neighborhood and prop up home ownership through connection and empowerment of residents. The organization’s vision? An economically and socially restored Alcy Ball. Seth Harkins, Executive Director of ABDC, is using his passion for connection with residents to fuel the organization’s mission. He shared, “We’ve seen more property become rental property in the last 10 years. The main thing we want to do is use our resources and connections to push for more African American home ownership in this neighborhood.”
One of the foundations for these connections to be built upon is through the Rogers Store, which ABDC purchased and began renovating back in 2019. “We are using this space to open the door to relationships with people who drive by every day,” remarked Seth. One of the best qualities of this newly-renovated space is its flexibility to meet the needs of residents.
“We’re excited to have a place to host people,” Seth added. “In August we’ll also be cranking up another cohort-type program that focuses on home ownership as a way to build wealth, not only for the next generation but also to build equity within the neighborhood.” He went on to share that other events in the space have also included: a graduation ceremony for a community entrepreneurship class, information sessions on generational wealth building, classes for residents interested in applying to nursing school, and even birthday parties and baby showers.
Directly adjacent to the Rogers Store is another project that ABDC has been tackling: A once abandoned home that will now serve as the living space for their Affordable Renter’s Program. Seth shared, “The goal is to rent this space to a family that is working towards home ownership. They’ll also be going through home ownership training and buyer education classes at the same time.” While residents are in the program, they will be building their savings account and will be able to access those savings at the end of their stay to put towards the purchase of a home.
As of May 2021, ABDC has raised $36,000 of their $75,000 goal towards the house renovation. Those looking to donate can support the Alcy Ball mission by clicking HERE. While service projects typically range in time and need, those looking to donate their time can contact Seth by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
With sights set on the end goal of a thriving community, the future is bright for Alcy Ball. “Residents are very interested in home ownership,” said Seth. “I’m thankful we’ve had five years to build relationships and we will continue to do what we set out to do.”
To learn more about Alcy Ball Development Corporation, please visit https://www.alcyball.org.