KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 3900 Block of Chestnut on Kansas City's east side appears as if it is rotting within a concrete jungle of urban degeneration.
But there are neighbors, such as Ester Holezendorf, whose hearts reside amid the overgrown weeds and mangled homes.
"We had a neighborhood, we had a community," Holezendorf said. "There were people who knew each other, people who looked out for each other."
Holzendorf's passion is shared by a group of residents who started the Model Block Project. It is a volunteer effort to mend a broken community.
"We can start with one block, and let's just rebuild one block," she said. "And maybe, just maybe, it will catch on and then we can move it to another block."
The Oak Park Northwest neighborhood is one of many food deserts in Kansas City. The group planted a community garden to give residents access to fresh produce.
"We believe that these fresh vegetables show that there is life in this place," she said. "There is freshness in this place."
Kansas City Officials say there are approximately 243 abandoned properties in the Oak Park Northwest area, which is damaging to the neighborhood.
David Park, deputy director of the Neighborhood Preservation Department of Kansas City, says blight is damaging to neighborhoods. The Model Block Project hopes to transform some of the buildings in the area.
"We've gotten a house out of land trust and that's the one we're going turn into a reading room and family resource center," he said.
While Holzendorf and her team try to breathe life into the street nearly stripped of hope, neighbors say they see progress.
"It was a really dreary at first, but now it's pretty lively in a positive way," said new resident Lonnie Stann. "It' s got a good energy, a good feel to it, I like it."
Holezendorf said the Model Project will forbid failure to corrode the spirit of her street.
"Often times failure rests on lack of access," she said. "Many times, people just don't know how to navigate the system. So we plan to do something about that."
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