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Group gives back by beautifying Council Bluffs neighborhoods

The 712 Initiative is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to beautify neighborhoods in Western Iowa. The program is called "Rock the Block" - it focuses on improving the outside of someone's house - whether it be windows, gutters or an unsafe porch. One woman says she's benefited from this act of kindness.
Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 19:35:22-05

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Neb. (KMTV) — For Carmen Nuno - a new porch wasn't a luxury. It was a necessity.

"The deck looked really bad and my mom recently passed away in July, and I thought, oh no, what am I going to do?" Nuno said. "I can't really afford to have somebody come in and put a new deck for me."

Nuno says her old porch was falling apart.

"It was really bad, I had a friend of mine paint it and should have never did that," Nuno said. "One winter, it snowed real bad and I cleaned off the deck and like a ding-dong, I put ice melt on it, and it got real bad."

That's when Rock the Block came to the rescue. Over five days this fall, roughly 15-20 volunteers tore down the old porch and replaced it.

"It was just like a burden that left my shoulders, I was really worried, what am I gonna do?" Nuno said.

Turner Morgan - the neighborhood coordinator for the 712 Initiative - was inspired to bring this program to Council Bluffs after hearing neighbors' concerns.

"One thing that just kept popping up was property upkeep, we meet a lot of families with fixed incomes or just in a tough spot, and we wanted to help them where we could," Morgan said.

It's help that Nuno will forever appreciate - for now - she can stand on a porch that's not only stable - but will act as a foundation for her future.

"I never knew there was people like that - that really wanted to help people out - which is wonderful," Nuno said. "They are just like angels, angels in disguise."

The program has 15 projects lined up with plans to keep growing. It launched this past summer and will go through the summer of 2021.

The project was powered by the Iowa West Foundation and other sponsors.