Kim and Eric Gardiner

Love Where You Live

Kim and her neighbor realized many on their street were without close family for the upcoming Easter holiday, so they remedied the absence with a block party.

While Kim was sitting at her daughter’s gymnastics class, one of the two neighbors she was with had an intriguing thought. Karmen, a Small Group Leader with her husband at HCBC, suggested the three of them put together a block party for their neighbors. “As we began to discuss the idea, we talked about how many of our neighbors would be spending Easter without extended family in the area and even a few for whom this would be their first Easter in Texas,” Kim said.

A few weeks and over 100 flyers later, the trio and their families welcomed 60 adults and children to a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, complete with a “potluck dinner, egg hunt, bouncy houses, and face painting,” said Kim. “We met several new neighbors… and we reconnected with several we already knew.”

Kim and her husband Eric said the party was a huge hit, and they used the opportunity to tell people about their Love Where You Live Neighborhood Gathering. “Most neighbors said they thought it was a good idea and something our neighborhood could really benefit from,” said Eric. “Like many neighborhoods, social media has heightened the awareness of both the good and the bad… This increased awareness of conflict presented an easy opportunity to invite our neighbors to discuss how we can resolve conflict in a healthy way.”

“This increased awareness of conflict presented an easy opportunity to invite our neighbors to discuss how we can resolve conflict in a healthy way.”

Chief Acevedo’s first message on presence and compassion struck a chord with the group of about 16 neighbors who came to the couple’s house for the first gathering. The neighbors began discussing the benefits of truly knowing one another and helping each other. “Before the discussion was over, many had volunteered, unprompted, to help with their unique talents, saying things like: ‘I have a truck and trailer,’ ‘I have experience with computers,’ etc,” Eric said.

As the discussion died down, Kim and Eric invited everyone to join the upcoming topics of grace, tolerance, and conflict resolution. “As our neighborhood was in the midst of an active conflict being aired on social media, many spoke up and noted the need for a better way of handling disagreements between neighbors, and we noted the next few topics should help to equip us (and help us to equip others) to deal with conflict in a better way,” Eric said.

The couple is excited to see how God is responding to their prayers for their neighbors and neighborhood. With the LWYL movement underway on their street, they have seen their neighborhood prosper in new ways, “including increased breadth and depth in neighborhood relationships, a better framework for dealing with conflict and an increased awareness of the benefits of serving each other.”