Daily Memphian: Seize the Day

by Dr. Mary McDonald
Shapiro & Company Architects

Dr. Mary McDonald

October 11, 2018 

Noah Gray, executive director of the Binghampton Development Corp (BDC), proclaimed this as he addressed the group gathered on the front porch at the home of Binghampton’s newest homeowner, Basuze Madogo, and presented him with the keys to his new house.

The newly renovated home is located next to the Carpenter Art Garden, which has an entrance sign that reads, Hope Lives Here. Hope is also alive and well at the Binghampton Community Development Corp. The mission of the BDC is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Binghamton, a two-square-mile community located at the geographic center of Memphis, with 8,000 residents.

The area has experienced a significant reduction in home ownership and an increase in vacant and blighted property. BDC’s goal is to change the course of the downward spiral of the neighborhood and its residents through affordable home ownership, and by teaching the residents the skills needed to renovate and maintain their property.

According to Zach Pappas, property manager, BDC also has an expanded ministry in providing job training.

“BDC uses acquired blighted property as the experiential classroom where people can receive training on reading blueprints, construction skills, HVAC training, and other related skills while transforming blight into quality affordable homes.”

Additionally, this faith-supported organization offers life/financial skill development and Christian discipleship/manhood development.

“We could not do this work without our partners” Gray said at the front-porch Key Ceremony. “Partners like Shapiro & Co. Architects, who provided us with a high-quality design for our homes; and Makowsky, Ringel, Greenberg, Real Estate Developers who assisted with construction; Regions Bank who provided a grant; and our many subcontractors. Together we are building hope.”

Brad Shapiro, whose firm is committed to community service, expressed that hope-building saying that “everyone should have an opportunity to live in a nice house. This collaborative effort is a way to offer job training and affordable home ownership to this community.”

Since 2003, the BDC has renovated 100 housing units and constructed 18 new homes with the goals of blight removal and support for affordable homeownership in the Binghampton neighborhood.

Standing on the porch of this newly renovated house along with 30 or more people to celebrate Madogo’s big step into home ownership was so Memphis. Front porches have always been a sign of being a part of something bigger than just yourself. Front porches are a welcoming common ground of hospitality in a neighborhood. They are a way of bringing folks together, just like it did at the Key Ceremony.

Memphis can learn from BDC’s efforts in Binghampton about going into areas that others won’t, about engaging the neighborhood residents in achieving their vision for their community, about forming strong partnerships with those who want to lift up our community, about building capacity in the workforce through skills training, and about providing Memphis with more front porches to bring folks together.