3 Years of Resilience
Resilience. That's the perfect word to describe West Bloomington Revitalization Project. Despite the pandemic and significant water damage to our building, the WBRP endured it all and bounced back stronger than ever. We are grateful for every volunteer, donor, and neighbor that contributed to that resiliency. Over the past three years, we have achieved so much.
Amount Raised: $11,659.12
New Book Bike
In May of 2022, we upgraded our Book Bike! The Book Bike is at the Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market during the outdoor season and attends numerous community events handing out free books to all who want one. The previous Book Bike had only one speed and is estimated to weigh well over 250 pounds. The new trike and the box, built by Icicle Tricycles, is about 235 pounds and comes with seven speeds and hand brakes, which makes pedaling a lot easier! In the past three years, we've given away over 10,000 books through the Book Bike!
Brought West Fest back
In 2022, we hosted West Fest, our annual block party, again! We brought it back bigger and better than ever with 4 live music performances, information and activities from other nonprofits, and delicious free food!
Although COVID-19 prevented us from hosting workshops 2019-2021, we were so excited to offer 4 classes in 2022 — 2 bike safety & basic repairs courses through Bloomington Public Library and Normal Public Library, 1 woodworking class hosted by Central Illinois Woodworkers, and woodworking class hosted by Heartland Community College.
Built 300+ beds for local youth
In the past 3 years and with the help of numerous donors and volunteers, we built over 300 beds to give to local youth aged 4-18 in need. In addition to the bed, children receive a brand new mattress, sheets, pillow, detergent, toothbrush and toothpaste.
Farm fresh veggies
We've continued distributing hundreds of pounds of vegetables to westside residents. Through the Healthy Eating Program, 48 families received CSA (community supported agriculture) shares every week. Veggie Oasis provided unsold veggies from the Farmers Market to westside residents. Both programs allowed for families living in west Bloomington - a food desert - access to enjoy high quality produce for free.
In 2020, we added a new mural to the side of the WBRP building. The mural includes a portrait of George Floyd with conversations around him and a poem by Yovana Milosevic in collaboration with with youth from the Bloomington-Normal Boys and Girls Club. Read more.
3,200+ Tool Library loans
We've made over 3,200 Tool Library loans and welcomed over 350 new members. We've added new tools like a dethatcher/aerator, generator, and numerous kitchen tools like Hamilton Beach Roaster Oven, food dehydrator, Instant Pot, immersion blender, large griddle and more!
We've fixed up, sold and given away 475 bikes through the Bike Co-Op, including 50 individuals earning a bike through volunteer hours. We've completed thousands of inexpensive repairs to keep folks riding their bikes!
Art and Beautification remains a core aspect of our revitalization efforts. Thanks to a grant from Illinois Prairie Community Foundation, we were able to fill our planters in west Bloomington with beautiful plants!
The past three years have in part been defined by COVID. We shared information about actions to limit spread and protect others, as well as providing free masks, at-home test kits, and grocery gift cards for westside residents.
Community Gardens Signage
During our 2021 Harvest Fest, local youth and artists participated in a graffiti project to create new signage for our community gardens at the corner of Roosevelt and Mulberry.
When talking about resilience these past three years, it's impossible to not acknowledge the hard work of volunteers to clean out our basement after the June 2021 storm damage. In an effort to continue taking care of our historic building, we filled in the coal vaults and anxiously await a project to replace the sidewalks by us and get an ADA entrance installed.