Blight transformed into beauty at Highland Park's Avalon Village

- A weekend of celebration and community-building is underway in Highland Park. The city is showing off its new "Homework House" at Avalon Village.

There is life in Highland Park's Avalon Village, mainly thanks to Shamayim Harris' will.

"From blight to bringing it to beauty," she said.

Harris bought a large brick home at 24 Avalon Village about a year and a half ago. It's a property that had been on the demolition list.

"It's come a long way, we're bringing it back to life and we're making it something wonderful for the children here in our community," she said.

Her vision to turn this neighborhood into a place where adults can live in harmony and where a kid and be a kid has gained national attention and inspired many people.

Once it is completed this winter, "The Homework House" will have a lot of resources for children in the area including a library, recording studio, and basketball court.

The house had to be gutted and given new piping, among other repairs. You can see the men in the neighborhood are still hard at work until the job is done.

"We have windows, we have a solar roof that was donated which will provide most all of the electricity that we need which will provide most of the electricity that we need in The Homework House," she said.

This weekend will be a soft grand opening to show everyone the progress that has been made.

"The name of this park is Jakobi Ra Park," Harris said,

September 23rd is a day that weighs heavily on Harris' heart. It has been nine years since she lost her 2-year-old son Jakobi to a hit and run driver.

"He was holding my son's hand and the car swiped him out of his hand, he died up under a street light," she said.

Jakobi Ra Park is one way mom is honoring her son with his memorial here at The Homework House.

"What I want people to know is that you can operate with a broken heart," Harris said. "I operate with a  broken heart every day. But it didn't break my spirit. It was just enough fuel. He was enough fuel to get me through the day, to accomplish things and feel better."

If you would like to learn more or donate, go to theavalonvillage.org
 

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