Calumet City

On Saturday September 29, Neighborhoods Inc. presented another successful Dog Walk. Sponsored by Mayor Michelle Qualkinbush, this was the 9th time that Neighborhoods Inc. has done this event. Over 120 dog lovers attended with their favorite four-legged friends.  The walk kicked off at 10 a.m. and headed around the neighborhood, stopping at St. Victors Church where Fr. Sprott blessed those present. The walk circled back to the park for more activities.  The Calumet City Police K-9 unit did a demonstration for the crowd and was followed by 3 contests: longest tail, best trick, and best dressed. The day concluded with a training demonstration by Edward White II and finally the announcement of the raffle winners.


On Tuesday, October 9th Neighborhoods Inc. concluded the 1st and 5th wards Best House on the Block contest with an awards ceremony at the beautiful Calumet City library. Over 60 people attended the presentation, including the sponsors of the contests, 1st ward alderman Eric Schneider and 5th ward alderman Roger Munda.
Guests ate and socialized with their neighbors for 45 minutes before the presentation began. NI executive director Keith Speaks welcomed all attendees with a brief history about the contest which has also been conducted in Hammond, East Chicago, Burnham, and Highlandsince 2003. Throughout the evening 12 door prizes were distributed, compliments of The Home Depot, Aunt Sally’s Restaurant, Torrence Liquors, Easy Clean Car Wash, Canine Affinity, and John Salzeider.


Aldermen Roger Munda and Eric Schneider helped present the awards to their respective ward’s entrants. They addressed and thanked the participants for doing their part in making Calumet Citya better place to live in and supporting property values in their neighborhoods. At the conclusion of the awards presentation the before and after photos of the top 4 contestants houses were unveiled causing many attendees to crowd around the photo display of the eight winners. there were a total of 44 entrants, 24 in the first ward and 20 in the 5th.
1st ward winners

1st Place:  Lonnie & Rosemary Mendoza, 415 Greenbay

2nd Place: Eugene & Jaqueline Pace, 329-152nd Place

3rd Place: Michael & Joann Well, 398 Campbell

4th Place: Gelacio & Irma Hernandez, 313-152nd Place




5th ward winners

1st Place:  Alfonso Hernandez, 218 Mason

2nd Place: Bernadette Madison, 34 Warren

3rd Place: Gerald Morgan, 323-156th St.

4th Place:  Yvonne Curet, 111 Detroit




Aldermen, Mayor Qualkinbush, NI staff, contest entrants and their families attended the 2008 Best House on the Block Contest® Award Ceremony the evening of October 22nd at the American Legion Hall.

Refreshments were served while over 120 guests socialized and discussed the much-anticipated question that all had on their minds—who had made the greatest degree of improvement on their houses in order to claim the top prizes?

Executive Director Keith Speaks welcomed all attendees as the formal presentation of awards commenced.  He explained the contest’s purpose and mentioned that this year’s 85 total entrants surpassed last year’s record of 76.  Guests were also impressed that the percentage of entrants who completed their projects had risen dramatically as well; 80% of 2008 contestants finished as compared to 68% in 2007.

Mayor Qualkinbush and the aldermen assisted NI staff member Kassia Mehidi award the prizes.  Door prizes were also raffled off.  Generous donations totaling over $500 in value from Nornat Management (McDonald’s), Zoom Clean Car Wash, Torrence Liquors, Oil Express and Mantis Dentistry were happily taken home by the lucky winners.

After the awards presentation, contestants crowded around a photo display of first place winners.  They were:

1st ward:  Michael & Joanne Wells, 398 Campbell
2nd ward:  Talisa Stitt, 605 Exchange
3rd ward:  Bobby & Lizzie Everett, 312 Cornell
4th ward:  LaVerne Sims, 337 Oglesby
5th ward:  Chris Roth, 301 Ruth
6th ward:  Mary Bradford, 1500 Wentworth
7th ward:  Andrew DeYoung, 649 Mackinaw

Mayor Qualkinbush and the City Council renewed a project that made the city a more beautiful place to live.  They responded to many requests from residents and contracted NI to bring back the Best House on the Block Contest® in Calumet City.

This was the first time the contest was open to all Calumet City homeowners.  The contest began in March and ended in September.  Any homeowners who did exterior, “curb appeal” property improvements were encouraged to enter.  Professional consultations were given to each entrant.  Over 70 applications were received, resulting in over $400,000 worth of improvements.  Judges from Hammond and Munster toured Calumet City on September 12 to evaluate and choose the top winners.

The awards ceremony was held on October 16th at the American Legion Hall with nearly 90 persons in attendance, including entrants, their guests, Calumet City aldermen Gerald Tarka, Thaddeus Jones and Leni Wosczynski, Mayor Qualkinbush and NI board director Cheryl Smith.  All attending enjoyed buffet-style refreshments before the presentation.

The top four cash prizes were:  1st place, $600; 2nd place, $400; 3rd place, $300; 4th place, $200.  The first-place winners from each ward were as follows:

1st ward:  Paul & Darlene Carter, 588 Greenbay
2nd ward:  Josephine Jackson, 501 Saginaw
3rd ward:  Yvonne Chism, 382 Chappel
4th ward:  Otherine Preston, 306 Oglesby
5th ward:  Ricardo & Gabriela Castro, 405 – 157th St.
6th ward:  LaTanya Lewis, 1526 Shirley
7th ward:  Lydia Henderson, 845 – 161st St.

All other entrants who successfully completed their projects received $100 and a certificate of participation.  Thirteen contestants won door prizes donated by the following local businesses:  Mantis Dentistry, Doreen’s Pizza, Eden’s Place Day Spa, Nornat Management Services, Illiana Financial Credit Union and Zoom Clean Car Wash.

NI conducted the Best House on the Block Contest® in the State Line section of the city, bounded by State Street on the north, Wentworth on the west, the Little Calumet River on the south and State Line Road on the east.  A total of 31 households entered in the 1st, 5th and 6th wards with 26 finishing their exterior rehab projects.  The top five winners in each ward received cash prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000 and all participants received $50.

Calumet City invested $22,720 in this project and netted over $130,000 in improvements to entrants’ homes.  Anecdotal feedback indicates that another 31 neighbors who didn’t enter the contest made improvements to their properties.  Nearly 80 persons attended the awards ceremony on October 19 at American Legion Post 330.  Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush watched Aldermen Gerald Tarka and Nick Manousopoulos hand out the awards.



In early 2004 NI was contacted by Pastor Bill Whitford of the First Baptist Church of Calumet City with the opportunity to work with hundreds of youth volunteers through Georgia-based Impact Zone and World Changers organizations. On the week of May 24th volunteers came to Calumet City to improve the homes of 3 elderly and/or disabled homeowners. NI partnered with the City of Calumet City to identify clients, provide materials and other assistance to complete this project which utilized nearly 90 volunteers who contributed over 1,110 hours of time.

From July 4 – 8, nearly 400 senior high school students and their chaperones from 14 different states descended on the Calumet Region through World Changers, sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Alpharetta, Georgia. Some students were deployed into Calumet City to improve the curb appeal, functionality and safety of three homes. Projects included exterior painting and roof installations. First Baptist Church of Calumet City was instrumental in providing food and lodging for these hardworking volunteers.

Operation Restoration marked its third year with a successful three-phase improvement project that began in the weekend of May 5-6 in Calumet City. A new partnership between NI and First Baptist Church of Hammond brought over 400 students volunteers and supervisors from City Baptist School and Hammond Baptist School in Schererville to Memorial Park. They and Calumet City residents conducted a massive clean-up and landscaping effort that covered two-square miles. Hundreds of bags of garbage were collected from empty lots, alleys, street and parks. Volunteers also raked, edged and beautified overgrown areas. Mayor Michelle Qualkinbush, Alderman Gerry Tarka, Treasurer Mike Zimmerman, Calumet City municipal employees and NI board directors were there to volunteer.

On April 24th NI brought dozens of volunteers from FBC’S Hammond Baptist School in Schererville to the 5th ward for a massive spring clean-up. Trash and debris were collected from 10 miles of alleys and 19 empty lots. Nearly 36 tons of garbage was collected in all.