ENGLEWOOD — Homeowner Vora Williams, 56, said her block’s peace garden symbolizes the peace she hopes to one day see in the community.
“We need peace in the Englewood area and I wish Englewood would go back to the way it was when we had it,” she said.
Having lived in the neighborhood all of her life she has seen violence transform the community she loves, she said. Which is why she purchased a large lot on the 6100 block of West Union Street through the City’s $1 Large Lot Program. The lot is within the Englewood Micro Market Recovery Program’s target area.
Thomas Moes, an outreach coordinator for Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago said Williams is a “real go-getter.”
“Along with residents on her W. 61st Street block, they formed the Edmonds Homeowners Association,” he said in an email. NHS offers residents different housing services and grants, one being the City of Chicago’s MMRP Energy Efficiency Program, which Williams also took advantage of to insulate her attic.
She retired after 33 years as a postal worker, but still keeps busy, Moes said. She is an active member of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood and Teamwork Englewood. She was featured online by NHS earlier this month.
The land that Williams’ acquired once had a building with tenants, but was torn down and had sat vacant for too long, she said. With the help of neighbors, she transformed the lot into “The Peace Garden.”
“We have so much crime in the Englewood area and I wanted to give it a name that demonstrates what we really need,” she said.
The lot is colorfully decorated with flowers and a bench in the shade to sit on. There are brick layered paths. The welcome sign has positive words inscribe on it like hope and faith.
It’s her own hope that people not from Englewood might pass the garden and see that there are homeowners who care how the neighborhood looks.
“Maybe with people who don’t live here, they’ll see that not all our vacant lots have weeds in them and that we’re actually trying to do something with the block,” she said.
Her next plan is to acquire the lot adjacent to the garden when she has completed the first one.
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