We all hope to live in neighborhoods that are safe, thriving, and share a sense of belonging. Communities are created by people and successful communities are built through residents, leaders, and businesses partnering to shape a positive environment. This summer, Leland Apartments residents rallied together to create a fun experience for all in their community.
In early August, the people of Uptown were greeted with 80’s pop hits, balloons, and hamburgers – all thanks to the Leland’s Block Party, a celebratory event coordinated by our volunteer resident council. Leonard and James, longtime residents and all-star neighbors, were part of the council’s efforts to bring the neighborhood together.
“I want to make sure our building is in good shape,” said Leonard. “More importantly, I want a healthy community.”
According to James, there’s nothing better than the efforts made for this party. “This was a lot of work, but it’s all worth it. When you look at everyone here, this is what it’s all about.”
From working with local businesses, to coordinating with partner organizations, and getting approval from Alderman Cappelman’s office – the resident council put in months of work. Their efforts to create a enjoyable community doesn’t stop there. In the past, the resident council has worked with the Alderman’s office to get new lighting on Leland Street and to add a local bus stop. Many also volunteer with ONE Northside, a local organizing group fighting for economic and social justice. They, too, joined the Leland Block Party for a “know-your-rights” informational session.
For folks like Simon and Andre, this was an opportunity to learn about one another in a safe and welcoming setting. The two were hitting it off after knowing each other for only a few days. Simon had just moved into the apartment 10 days prior, and the opportunity to meet the neighbors was too good to pass up.
“The music is really cool, and I get the chance to meet people like this guy right here,” Simon said, pointing at Andre. “This was a great idea.”
For longtime resident Sebastian, this was just another way for his crew at Leland Apartments to share the love. Sebastion is a part of Heartland Alliance Heath’s PATHWAYS program at the Leland, where they work closely with clinicians and case managers to heal and thrive in their homes.
Recently, Sebastian and his neighbor Willie joined residents from other Heartland Housing buildings to talk about the importance of supportive housing with StoryCorps Chicago. He believes in the transformative power of places like Leland Apartments and works hard to share that message.
“We’re making a statement. More importantly, we’re making the right statement. Let’s come together with peace and love – and man, let’s share it!”
This was the building’s second year hosting the block party, bringing together new and old residents, neighbors and service workers, friends and family members from across Chicago. According to Yolanda, the Leland’s property manager, the ongoing success of the event means a lot to the resident and staff. They expect to continue to hold the block party every year.
It is said that healthy communities start at the individual level. Well, the character and dedication of the residents at the Leland Apartments makes the Uptown neighborhood healthier every day – and we’re so thankful for people like Leonard and everyone else who made this block party such a success. Thanks to staff like Yolanda, Dante, Dionne, and Adriana, the resident council, and the entire building – you’re what makes Uptown such a great neighborhood.
“I want to make change in the community, that’s why it’s important to know your neighbors,” Leonard said. “It makes us all safer, all better off.”