We can hardly believe we’ve made it to this point, but we’re so excited that we have. Our excitement got us thinking: what better way to celebrate new achievements than by looking back on where we’ve come from? To do this, we sat down with Laine Scales, our fearless founder, to see what she had to say about how Good Neighbor House came to be.
For starters, it’s good to know a little bit of background on the house. The house itself was bought by Laine in 2011, and planning for the house began in 2012. By 2013, Good Neighbor House had been officially established as a nonprofit organization. The Good Neighbor Board of Directors and the first group of residents (called “settlers”) began the daunting project with the goal of providing outreach to the community around the house. In 2014 the first settlers moved in and began fundraising and participating in community events, such as Halloween on Colcord.
Laine says of the goals for the house:
“The vision of the historic settlement house has always been to break down barriers between people. If our neighbors can get to know each other, work together on learning something, doing a project, or worshipping together, we have facilitated a chance for people to care more about each other and their community. That can be a slow process, but showing up and being available is a great beginning point.”
We asked Laine a few questions about how the experience of working on the house has gone so far.
“Refurbishing an older building was much harder and more expensive than we thought. As soon as one thing would be repaired (for example the roof), something else would fall apart or a tree would fall in the yard and damage the building. But we had such a supportive group of friends and board members who would not give up. We really benefitted from groups like Mannaworks and Russell Feight’s Alpha Property Maintenance Group who did whatever they could to make the building come together.”
But while sometimes the work was tough, it was nothing if not rewarding. “I have been amazed at how positively people respond to the idea of Good Neighbor House,” Laine says fondly.
“Everyone from neighbors, to students and teachers, to community leaders and other non-profits hoping to use the building were excited. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea to bring people together. Rewards often come at the end of a long journey, so sitting out in the yard last week, eating BBQ with neighbors, listening to music, meeting neighbors I had not yet met… what a pleasure to realize that, indeed, if we create a space, people will show up.”
We here at Good Neighbor are happy to see years of work come to fruition, and now we hope to be able to provide for our community through the newly opened house. But as much as we’d like to take credit for this project, we wouldn’t be where we are today, nor would we be able to get where we’re going without the community. Laine told us that the most important thing she’d like for the Good Neighbor community to know is “That what we have done is create an open space, but it is really going to be up to the community to decide how to use the space and to help support keeping the doors open by making donations. If we build a useful and welcoming space but if the community does not use it or does not support it financially, it cannot reach its potential.”
Laine told us that the most important thing she’d like for the Good Neighbor community to know is :
“What we have done is create an open space, but it is really going to be up to the community to decide how to use the space and to help support keeping the doors open by making donations. If we build a useful and welcoming space but if the community does not use it or does not support it financially, it cannot reach its potential.”
We’re glad to open our doors to you, Sanger-Heights – and to the rest of Waco as well!
Stay tuned for more blog posts, articles, and interviews with Good Neighbor organizers!