Provo volunteers participate in the “MyHometown” initiative to improve the community

Volunteers from the South Freedom neighborhood of Provo are launching “MyHometown”, an initiative to provide community resources and improvement projects. The initiative focuses on the combined efforts of volunteers and residents to build community. (Photo courtesy of Greg Baum)

Volunteers from Provo’s South Freedom neighborhood are launching MyHometown, an initiative created to provide community resources and betterment projects to Provo residents.

The initiative, a pilot program originally introduced two and a half years ago in West Valley City, Utah, focuses on the combined efforts of volunteers and residents to build community.

Volunteers teach life skills classes, mentor students, provide monthly service projects and more.

South Freedom Project Director Alan Wilkins said MyHometown’s overarching goal is to improve communities economically, socially and emotionally.

“This is an effort to help people help each other,” Wilkins said. “We want to build neighborhoods that feel loving, connected and responsible for each other.”

Wilkins said they are creating focus groups and distributing surveys to residents to better understand the needs and wants of the community. With the information they gather, they will organize events and resources to meet those needs.

The South Freedom neighborhood of Provo will open its Community Resource Center on June 18. The center will host English classes, basic computer classes, financial wellness training and more.

Wilkins said that while many volunteers are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the initiative aims to bring people of all faiths and backgrounds together.

“It’s up to everyone to serve each other,” Wilkins said.

The Pioneer Park neighborhood of Provo launched its MyHometown efforts several months ago.

Pioneer Park Associate Manager Al Thomson said his favorite part of the initiative is seeing how happy the people they work with are.

“They’re just grateful,” Thomson said. “They come back for friendships and because they feel loved.”

Thomson said its Community Resource Center offers several tutorial sessions and classes to help the community, including a computer course.

Students who choose to attend receive a laptop they can take home for homework and those who attend classes regularly for a year will receive the laptop at the end of the course.

“All the computers were donated to us by a donor,” Thomson said. “People have been so generous.”

Volunteers from the South Freedom neighborhood of Provo are launching “MyHometown”, an initiative to provide community resources and improvement projects. The initiative focuses on the combined efforts of volunteers and residents to build community. (Photo courtesy of Greg Baum)

Pioneer Park Manager Greg Baum said all of their efforts have been focused on education, strengthening friendships and improving homes and properties.

“Our first day of service focused on removing trash from the neighborhood,” Baum said. “There’s another on June 11 where we’ll be painting homes in the community.”

Baum said they discuss which residents need the services the most before planning the projects.

“We look and see what projects need to be done for someone who can’t do it themselves,” Baum said. “Maybe it’s a widow who for some reason is unable to do so. From there, we assess their needs and plan how to help them.

Baum also said that for those who can, all service recipients should participate in the project.

“We consult with them on what needs to be done and what they are able to afford for themselves,” Baum said. “If they are physically able, they must also participate in the actual service.”

Baum said they also plan and host events to help residents interact and get to know each other. When they launched the initiative in the Pioneer Park neighborhood, they held a block party for community members to officially open their community resource center.

“Our opening event was attended by 910 people,” Baum said. “It was wonderful.”

Baum said MyHometown’s longevity is expected to reach 10 years.

“There is no official end date on MyHometown,” Baum said. “It is magic.”

More information about MyHometown can be found on the South Freedom neighborhood of Provo website.

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