By Cristin Cooper
On our last day in London, when we were taking some time to write down next steps for our project, I wrote my 3rd step down as throwing a Neighborhood Halloween Block Party.
At the time that I wrote that step down I knew three out of twenty-five families in my neighborhood. Also at the time that I wrote that step down, I knew the party couldn't be "my" idea. My previous church planting experience clued me into the danger of planning events outside of the community's buy-in. I had experienced enough pulling of volunteer's teeth to NOT try that again. Still, I kept the step down on paper, though I wasn't sure how to throw a party without it being my idea. Especially cause I just wrote it down, so it was my idea...
Well, God knew. My 1st step that I wrote down was to introduce myself to the new family that had moved in right before I left for London.
Following my steps accordingly, once I returned from London I made some blueberry bread to take over to the new neighbors. The first time I went over to their house, no one answered the door. I thought, “Okay, they aren’t home though their car is in the driveway.” The next day I went back over, their car was in driveway. This time when I knocked I heard noise behind the door, what sounded like a person’s footsteps. But, still, no one answered the door. I became deflated, and I had a choice in front of me, either stay deflated, assume the worst of them, and go stuff my face with breakfast bread in an act of rebellion, or go knock on another neighbor's door, a neighbor whom I had waved at countless times but had not met face to face, and give them the bread.
I did the latter. This neighbor answered. We exchanged names. Her name is Heidi. She gladly took the bread. The two of us got to talking. I learned she has two kids, both of whom came to the door to introduce themselves to me. I learned she’s from Minnesota and goes home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She knows it’s a lot of money, but she can’t imagine the holidays without her family. I learned she’s a new single mom and I learned she too has a love for coffee. Before I left she asked me if I would like to come over for coffee sometime, I thanked her for her offer and told her I would love to.
Now, fast forward six weeks. I'm came home from a friend's BBQ and I see Heidi and her son Jack playing outside. I have some leftover brownies beside me in the car that were leftover from the BBQ. I get out my car and take the brownies to Heidi and Jack. The three of us get to talking and out of Heidi's mouth pops, "We should have a Neighborhood Halloween Block Party. I have some long tables, we could make it a potluck, and just hangout, Ya know?" In my head, I'm going, "OF COURSE I KNOW. YES, PLEASE LET'S HAVE A PARTY, YAASSSSS!" What I say, trying to be as chill as I can is, "Yeah...that'd be cool."
Fast forward four weeks, our neighborhood has ourselves a Halloween Block Party! Parents met other parents, some kids had their first s'more, the skittish hispanic family on the corner came for the length of the whole party, Chickfila donated free sandwiches (it helps that I know the Marketing Director of our local Chickfila)....but the best part? The best part of the night was our neighborhood's kids and parents leaving the party to trick-or-treat together in one big I-know-and-trust-my-neighbors clump!
I now knew twelve out of the twenty-five families in my neighborhood.