We Build Strength
People are our biggest asset, period.
Nikki Russ, a member of the Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition, is a DuPage Habitat resident champion. She grew up on the West Side in Chicago, and her childhood community was strong. The neighborhood knew her mother as “Nikki’s Mom” because Nikki was always meeting people through church, bowling, or her job at the drug store. She knew all the neighbors on her block and beyond, which gave her a tight-knit community to call home. Nikki says, “We were a neighborhood, but we were also a family. People were there to help each other. People cared about each other.”
Now, Nikki lives in the Greenbrook Tanglewood community in Hanover Park, and has called it home for 28 years. Over this time, Nikki’s watched her neighborhood change, even start to crumble. In past years, neighbors would pass each other by without even saying hello. But she is determined to make her neighborhood strong and connected again, the way it was when she was a child, saying, “Getting people back to that will make the neighborhood, the city, the state, even the nation, better.” Nikki is inspired by programs like DuPage Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition, and loves being involved in her community again. Through specialty projects like the Junior Resident Board, Little Libraries, and Rock the Block, Nikki feels like her community is, slowly but surely, starting to come together again.
Nikki says, “People are our biggest asset, period. Our material objects come and go, but the only thing important in this world is people. Our family, our friends. And our friends we have yet to meet.” Nikki knows just how important those relationships can be in a community. Just this past summer, she found herself in need of help after falling in her home. After yelling for help over what felt like hours, Nikki heard a group of boys walking down her street. She began to yell for their help, and they immediately alerted one of her neighbors. They all stayed with her until emergency responders arrived to take Nikki to the hospital. She was proud to see that kind, helpful spirits were popping back up in her community, thanks to efforts from Neighborhood Revitalization.
When community stakeholders across the county partner with DuPage Habitat through our Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition, they are creating partnerships with residents, community organizations, and businesses to build up the community. This creates a vibrant, safe, and inviting place to live for current and future residents. Every one of us can help make our communities safer and more stable.