For all the talk of a new baseball stadium, NoDo, and the zoo's expansion, there's another reality. Dozens of inner-city neighborhoods are struggling.
One Pay it Forward recipient helped turn her neighborhood around. Now, she's raising money for an even bigger effort.
For Carolyn Cook, a walk through Bemis Park is like a trip back in time.
She says, "Home to me is Columbia, South Carolina, 915 Chester Street. It was horrid -- nothing like growing up in despair. I said when I got to where I could help, I was going to."
Along with fellow members of Cobblestone Crew, she has done just that by renovating houses in her Bemis Park neighborhood.
She told us of one home done for a woman with kidney failure.
"Did we just paint, put boards back up, and make sure there was a wheelchair ramp? Yeah. But the best thing we did was make her heart happy."
Cook wants to see what happened there, spread throughout north and south Omaha.
She's securing sponsors like Gerda's Bakery and raising money for Mission Omaha Foundation so hundreds of teens can come in next summer and renovate houses.
Carolyn and the rest of the Cobblestone Crew have raised $10,000 toward the goal. The big event is a tour of historic homes in midtown in September with food and fun thrown in. Two hundred tickets at $50 each should mean another $10,000.
The money is designed to spur changes like those in Bemis Park.
Diana Riggleman notices the difference on the Bemis Park Citizens' Patrol. She says things are different than they were a decade ago. She sees, "people out walking their dog, people walking in the morning and night."
Carolyn says, "It's not like people are too lazy, it's finding the money to do it. They want the streets safe for their kids, to come out of the house. Unless somebody reaches out to help them they live the rest of their life without hope. There's nothing like that, it's horrid. But people can overcome it."
Carolyn Cook is proof.
The Boulevard Tour is Sunday, September 21. For ticket info go to the Cobblestone Crew Web site.
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