James in his home.

Veteran sees neighborhood improve with help from Habitat

James lived through the bad times in the Memphis neighborhood of Uptown, always hopeful that the good times would come. He is glad he stuck around.

“The neighborhood has started coming back to itself,” says James, who is 69 and bought his house in Uptown 31 years ago. “And now, all different kinds of neighbors are coming in, all of them real nice.”

Even more people will be moving into Uptown, as it was the focus of the 2016 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. President and Mrs. Carter and thousands of volunteers joined homeowners and future homeowners to build new homes, repair homes of older residents and complete beautification projects.

Memphis Habitat has been working with residents and other partners to revitalize Uptown since 2012. Habitat has been involved in the rehab and beautification of more than 85 properties, including 16 historical houses, several commercial properties and the homes of more than 70 veterans and older residents, including James. 

James, who served 20 years in the Army and two stints in Vietnam, raised three sets of kids in his house in Uptown, including a nephew whose father had died. Pearline, James’ wife of 43 years, died in 2008. “I miss my wife, but this home gives me a peace of mind.” he says. “I can be free and relaxed here. I look out for my neighbors, and they look out for me because that is what neighbors do.”

James doesn’t like to drive anymore so he bikes around the neighborhood. He likes what he sees. “I see Habitat working all over,” he says. “I guess if you live long enough, you get to see things get better.”

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