One day each year, NFL teams across the country join forces with local United Ways to encourage community service and highlight the power of partnerships. United Way of Northeast Florida and the Jaguars Foundation partnered Nov. 19 for their annual Hometown Huddle service event, which encompassed four service projects in the historic Eastside community near TIAA Bank Field.
Located near Springfield and Downtown Jacksonville, the Eastside is the area containing the Jacksonville Fairgrounds, the Sports Complex and nearby residential areas. Similar to many urban core neighborhoods across the U.S., the Eastside saw major decline following the Civil Rights movement. Most notably was the destruction of many shops in the Eastside’s commercial district on Florida Avenue, now A. Philip Randolph Blvd., in a racially charged riot in 1969. The Eastside has never fully recovered.
This year’s service day improved the historic urban-core neighborhood by providing meals to 791 individuals, refreshing a nearby park, uplifting the neighborhood through beautification projects and assisting senior citizens with home repairs.
The day included a kick-off “Huddle” at In the Word International Church with empowering messages from Senior Vice President of the Jaguars Foundation and Community Impact Peter Racine, Historic Eastside Community Development Corporation Chair Suzanne Pickett and United Way of Northeast Florida President and CEO Michelle Braun.
At United Way of Northeast Florida, we know many Jacksonville neighborhoods lack time, resources and investments to reach their full potential. By focusing Hometown Huddle on our urban-core neighborhoods, we hope to raise awareness of neighborhood conditions, provide immediate improvements, and advocate for long-term, systemic change.