Community looks to 'ReNEW' 2 southside neighborhoods - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Community looks to 'ReNEW' 2 southside neighborhoods

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - A neighborhood renewal project in La Crosse is gearing up for another chapter.

Last spring, a partnership of neighbors and local organizations worked together to revitalize the Powell-Poage-Hamilton neighborhood.

The project was called ReNEW, which stands for Revitalizing Neighborhood Empowerment with La Crosse Neighborhoods.

This spring, two southside neighborhoods are bringing the project back.

Volunteers will help give a facelift to the Powell-Poage-Hamilton and Washburn neighborhoods.

The southside communities are often looked to as blighted ones, but one ReNEW beneficiary said thanks to the project, the community has a new outlook.

"I have a lot to smile about," said Renée Miranda, who benefited from the ReNEW project in the spring of 2013.

She stands proudly on the stoop of her 10th Street home.

"I look at the pictures from before and it's almost unrecognizable that this is the same house," Miranda said.

Even with her garden covered in snow, trees waiting to bloom, Miranda has a renewed outlook on life. Thanks to the ReNEW Project.

"It's like your home should be your sanctuary but it's almost a fortress where you don't let people in and you don't go out much," Miranda said, referencing her home before the renovation.. "So I think that just getting the work done on the house has helped me be more welcoming to people."

Back in May, Miranda's house had a rotting deck, siding in desperate need of painting, and broken gutters.

But she couldn't afford the updates.

"I think there's a lot of houses and a lot of neighborhoods that need help, need aesthetic help, need structural help," said Jason Mather, the construction manager for Habitat for Humanity. Mather helped with ReNEW.

"I feel like a program like ReNEW can uplift a community, can make them feel better about where it lives and maybe make it feel more connected," he said.

According to Miranda, the project even changed her neighbors' outlook, adding it's fortunate two communities benefit this time.

"If anybody is eligible for the project, they should apply because it will change your life," she said.

Gundersen Health System has been involved with upgrading the Powell-Poage-Hamilton neighborhood from the start, said Adam Hatfield, with external affairs for the system.

Gundersen's main campus is at the head of the neighborhood.

"I think, most importantly, from Gundersen's perspective, is that there are residents who really care about this neighborhood and care about where they live, and they want to make an improvement. That's what we saw when we developed that neighborhood plan with them," Hatfield said.

To lend a hand with ReNEW, Gundersen staff coordinates media, volunteers and organizes different events.

Last year ReNEW volunteers completed a total of 51 projects on 42 different properties in about 1,000 volunteer hours.

The goal for ReNEW 2014 is to finish 35 projects in the Powell-Poage-Hamilton and Washburn neighborhoods combined.

ReNEW applications are being collected for homes in those neighborhoods. They're due March 21. Apply or volunteer here.
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