Jen McClung

Know Your Neighbors

First things first. It’s hard to love the people around us when we don’t even know their names. For real!

A whopping 90% of people don’t know the names of their eight closest neighbors.†

February’s challenge is an important one. It’s one that might take a while to complete — it’s to embrace that loving your neighbor is a worthwhile endeavor and to get to know the people that live closest to you. Here’s what that looks like:

The challenge

  • Print out your neighbor grid and fill out what you know.
  • BONUS: Read The Art of Neighboring, or another book about neighboring to get your mind in the game.

How to enter

  • Then document your experience! Share a photo (or a video) of:
    • you with your grid,
    • you and your copy of a neighboring book, or
    • something else creative to let the world know you’re joining us on this challenge!
  • Make it official!
    • Share your photo on Instagram, Facebook, or directly on our website!
    • Make sure to tag it with #loveyourhoodchallenge AND #knowyourneighbor 
    • And follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook.
  • Win some prizes!
    • Get creative! Each month we’ll choose our favorite post from and give away prizes.
    • If you complete at least nine of the eleven challenges you can enter for a chance to win $1000 for yourself AND $1000 for your favorite local charity. For real! We’re rewarding you for being an awesome neighbor!

Get inspired

Mike + Linda | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

Mike + Linda

Arvada, Colorado

Mike and Linda first met Deb through their church group, Friends 55+. Over the years, their friendship has grown as they have volunteered together in numerous areas at Peace Lutheran Church in Arvada.

Several years ago (when home prices weren’t sky high!) Deb had the privilege of helping Mike and Linda find a condo for their son. Finding the nest empty, the couple decided it was time to downsize from their large home. It didn’t take long for them to seize the opportunity to build a new, right-sized home and customize it to their preferences. Once they moved in, it didn’t take long for them to make new friends and serve their community (Mike is already the president of the neighborhood association). Now, Mike and Linda’s neighborhood and home are a great fit for them! This is their story:

Mike + Linda | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

What made you fall in love with this house?

We wanted a patio home with a small community feel. We also wanted to stay in the area we were familiar with as didn’t want to leave our friends or church. The house we finally chose fit all our criteria. It has the room we need but small enough to easily maintain, being a patio home we no longer are in charge of our own lawn care or snow removal which we love.

What prompted you to move here?

We were looking for a smaller, ranch style home. At the time I was having difficulty with stairs due to arthritis and we had become empty nesters which meant we no longer needed a four bedroom house.

Is there a project you’re dying to start:

The house we chose was a new build but because I love to decorate I am always finding small projects to put our personal stamp on. I am now in the process of finding the style of beams we like to have installed in our living room. This will bring warmth and charm to our home.

Mike + Linda | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood Stories
What most excites you about the neighborhood you’re moving into?

It was a small community, built by a two man partnership which gave all home owners the ability to make changes and the builders were very accommodating. Our community is very close knit and you can be assured someone is always willing you give you help when needed.

What are things in your new neighborhood that remind you of your hometown?

The small community feel and that everyone knows everyone. We are of all the same age which also gives us common interests, also most everyone feels comfortable in just popping in with no formal invite needed.

Mike + Linda | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

What are some of your neighborhood favs?

We have lived around this community for the last 20 plus years so have seen many changes but we love the walking trails.

Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood

We also love what has been done to the “Olde Town” portion of our city.

Olde Town | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood

Olde Town | Arvada, CO | Love Your Hood

Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

We have connected most with the folks in our community and since it is a small development we have gotten to know most everyone on more than a wave and hi as they walk by.

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

Colin + Sarah

Sloan Lake, Denver

The first time we met Colin, it was at a showing for a house with a leaking roof and trash cans strewn about to catch all the water. It was a mess. But it was fun and a memory we’ll never forget. We loved working with this bitcoin genius and his then-girlfriend-now-fiance, Sarah. Sarah is bubbly and engaging, and Colin is analytical and personable. The best part of it all was seeing them focus on their goal: starting their life together. And we would say that it’s a great one!

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

What made you fall in love with this house?

It’s hard to pick just one, but what really sealed the deal was the open layout upstairs. We love to host friends and family as often as possible.  As soon as we saw it in person, we knew this would be the perfect place to do just that!  Mark & Rebecca were ninja fast to respond and help coordinate that first walk through so quickly. (Editor’s Note: we loved hearing Sarah talk so fondly of her mother-in-law. She was SO excited for their new home to have space to host her, even to the point of saying, ‘I would have her live with us forever if I could!’)

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

What prompted you to move here?

Sloan’s Lake is a perfect blend of neighborhood feels with nearby downtown amenities. We enjoy the urban lifestyle that downtown Denver has to offer and the enjoy the lake and greenery nearby.

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

 

Is there a project you’re dying to start:

Does decorating count?! We won’t be breaking down walls anytime soon – mostly because we love the space as is!  Painting, furniture, and decor really go a long way! We also moved in the winter but ecstatic to tend to the raised garden along the side of the house. Hellooo fresh veggies!

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories
What most excites you about the neighborhood you’re moving into?

Back home in Orlando, Florida, there’s this super iconic spot called Lake Eola. It’s a beautiful park in the heart of downtown that hosts wine festivals, art walks, and farmers markets. You can even ride big white swan boats around the lake itself! We’ll often refer to Sloan’s Lake as the “Lake Eola of Denver.” Being so close to the water feels like a little slice of home. It has also been one of Colin’s favorite places in Denver and for good reason: views of the city skyline on one side and mountain ranges on the other! Can’t beat it.

Sloan's Lake | Denver, CO

What are some of your neighborhood favs?

Tacos El Paisa has a mean Taco Tuesday — $1 tacos and the margaritas are delicious! Rosita’s is another neighborhood favorite.

Briar Common Brewery & Eatery is somewhere we can’t wait to ride our bikes to in warmer weather. They’ve got great beers and even better apps. Also a solid spot to hang out at before game days or shows at Mile High Stadium.

colin-sarah-story-sloan-lake-denver-colorado-80

Hallack Park is our go-to for dog walks and puppy hang time. It’s a great spot to meet other pups and their owners in the neighborhood, too!

Sarah’s a total sucker for Chick-Fil-A french fries and the fact that Target is so close could be considered dangerous.

Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

You know, we feel really fortunate to have already connected with some of our immediate neighbors so quickly. There’s a solid mix of young families, retirees, and young couples, like ourselves, just getting started. When you add the wide variety of dog-owners we’ve run into at the nearby park and bopping around some of the local shops, we totally feel a friendly, welcoming vibe all around.

Colin + Sarah | Sloan Lake, Denver | Love Your Hood Stories

 

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

Bryce + Miranda

Buckley Ranch, Commerce City

From their dating years, to their beautiful wedding day, from one baby, then two, and now three — it’s been special to watch Bryce and Miranda’s family grow. And their housing needs have grown right along with it! I (Deb) have had the pleasure of helping them sell their first home, to finding one that fits them today. This is their story:

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

What made you fall in love with this house?

We love the open floor plan, so we can comfortably entertain our friends and family for holidays and parties.

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

Having our washer and dryer upstairs next to all the bedrooms is a lifesaver —with three kids we are always doing laundry!

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

What prompted you to move here?

Our family needed a bigger home when we found out we were expecting our third baby.

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

Is there a project you’re dying to start:

Our house is newly built and pretty much put together, but we can’t wait to start a flower garden in our back yard!

What most excites you about the neighborhood you’re moving into?

A lot of young families are moving to our area so we’re excited to meet people who are in the same stage of life as us. We really like the family events that are held in our neighborhood, such as the 4th of July firework show and Christmas event where Santa comes to visit the children. There are also movies in the park during the summer which is fun for the kiddos!

What are things in your new neighborhood that remind you of your hometown?

We both grew up in towns in Colorado that didn’t have a lot of entertainment, restaurants, or homes when we first lived there. Our neighborhood now is very similar—it’s very new and there are not a ton of restaurants or shops.

What are some of your neighborhood favs?

Reunion Park is gorgeous and we love taking walks around the two lakes in the park. Our house is next to some great trails as well.

Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

We’d love to connect with young families. One of the reasons we moved to this area is because of all the young families who live here.

Bryce + Miranda | Commerce City, CO | Love Your Hood Stories

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness | Love Your Hood

Pool with a Purpose

Five Points, Denver

March is one of our favorite months of the year at Love Your Hood. Not only does it mark the beginning of Spring, it’s more importantly a month all about basketball. March Madness is a time when our team’s competitive side is unleashed and trash talk flows freely. It’s a time when the underdog can shine (or trash your bracket — thanks UMBC). Last year our office pool was solely for bragging rights. And oh, did that winner ever brag (a’hem Rebecca Cooper)!

But you know what gets people even more excited that bragging rights? Some cold. hard. cash. That’s right — this year we’re putting money on it. Gotta pay to play people.

Yeah, yeah. Everybody does this. Why do we care about your office pool?

Because in true Love Your Hood fashion, we put a twist on it. The winner cannot keep the money.

Say what?

Rewind to a month or so ago and Mark and I (Jen) headed out to eat with our three small children to Benny’s, one of our favorite restaurants. As we were getting settled into our seats we said a little hello to the couple sitting next to us (in hopes of starting off on the right foot in case our kids decided to make dining in public particularly challenging that evening). When we were finishing up and getting ready to grab the bill, we found out that the couple we had greeted had paid our tab.

We were shocked.

We had the chance to stay and chat with them for over an hour to get to know them a bit. Jana and Blaine have raised five kids in Denver and are grandparents to nine. They were even on the news for helping a family in Aurora that needed a new sewer line. Blaine, the owner of Discount Rooter, replaced it for free. To say they are do-gooders is an understatement.

This is the video from Fox31 about the family they helped.

While the free meal was incredibly generous, what meant even more to Mark and I was the sense of community it gave us.

What’s crazier? We ran into them again at Benny’s a few weeks after that. We thought we could finally return the favor. But, alas, we were too late as they were already getting ready to leave. Lo and behold, they found a way to treat us AGAIN! Talk about being the poster couple of how to rock at random acts of kindness!

Jana and Blaine, you have inspired us.

Random Acts of Kindness | Love Your Hood

Instead of using our office March Madness pool for ourselves, the winner gets to use all the winnings to do their own random act of kindness! (And of course they’ll still have their bragging rights for the whole next year: priceless!)

We at Love Your Hood want to be generous and have fun doing it!

We want to be in the habit of seeing a need around us and filling it whenever we can — even just finding a way to turn our everyday shenanigans into something bigger than ourselves.

Jana and Blaine have reminded us that there are generous, inspiring people all around us. And that no matter how much or how little we feel we have to give, it can always be turned into something great.

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family | Love Your Hood

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family

Barnum, Denver

Love Your Hood had the privilege and honor of being chosen as a sponsor for Denver Rescue Mission’s Adopt-A-Family program. We are always looking for ways to love our community and neighbors, and this was a tangible way we were able to do just that this holiday season.

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family | Love Your Hood

What is Adopt-A-Family?

Denver Rescue Mission’s Adopt-A-Family program allows trusted members of the community (like teachers, counselors, etc.) to nominate families in need to have Christmas brought directly to their door. Each family can only be nominated one time. DRM will then match these families to sponsors standing by, ready to purchase, wrap, and deliver the gifts to them. This year, the Mission had more sponsors than families, which is a great problem to have!

Why Adopt-A-Family?

Love Your Hood is about more than just real estate. To us, it’s a way of life. We are always looking for ways to participate in others’ stories, and this was one way we were able to love our neighbors by giving back to a hard working family who is down on their luck.

What kinds of things did the family ask for?

When we received the family’s list, it was all needs. Think: winter coat, shoes, toiletries, pants, and shirts. No wants or toys that are typically asked for on Christmas.

What did LYH do for them?

Love Your Hood and each person on the team gave money and resources to make sure that this family’s wildest Christmas dreams came true. We fulfilled everything on their list and then some! The only thing better than giving, is getting to do it together! We had a blast on our team shopping night to round up gifts.

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family | Love Your Hood

Then we threw a wrapping party to put our Elf-like gift wrapping skills to good use.

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family | Love Your Hood

One of the best parts about the program is getting to meet the family to deliver the gifts. We wish our adopt-a-family and you all a joyful holiday and new year!

Denver Rescue Mission Adopt-a-Family | Love Your Hood

San Rafael Alley Clean-up | Denver, CO | Love Your Hood

Alley Clean-Ups

Five Points, Denver

We couldn’t call ourselves Love Your Hood if we didn’t actually love our hood. And doing that well calls us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. “Litter”-ally.

San Rafael Alley Clean-up | Denver, CO | Love Your Hood

What’s the big deal about alleys?

In other parts of the world, alleys weren’t originally created for garages and garbage. They started out as public spaces. Many historic alleys even contained stores, restaurants, bars, and parks.

Needless to say, most of the alleys in Denver don’t currently have this high of a calling. They’re typically sources of frustration for residents in dealing with things from strewn trash and graffiti, to drug dealing and other non-welcome behavior. Keep up with the beat on neighborhood Facebook groups like Curtis Park Neighbors or Old San Rafael Neighborhood Organization and you’ll get a glimpse of the trouble with alleys.

Five Points, Denver Alley Issues

Why do you all clean them?

Love Your Hood is all about connecting people to place and ultimately people to people. Helping to reclaim spaces in our neighborhoods that can be used to bring the community together, or at least not be a source of frustration, is a huge win. Quite frankly, cleaning up our alleys is the first step to creating spaces that people actually want to be in. (And typically places full of trash, just aren’t one of them… unless you’re a toddler living at our house — then you just might.)

The second (and more important) reason we clean alleys is to connect the people that share the space. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for folks to have never met the people that live on their block or that share the same alley. So, we throw alley cleaning parties and invite all the residents to hopefully help them connect and take pride in their shared space.

Can’t you all do something bigger to help the neighborhood?

I suppose that depends on the definition of “bigger.” A few of the reasons why we do what we do:

  1. We believe in starting where you are… using what you have, and doing what you can.
  2. We’re okay getting our hands dirty. There are some insanely fun and glamorous ways to raise money for a good cause. We applaud them (and want to join in)! Cleaning alleys… never gonna be glam. And it’s okay, it’s just a job that needs to be done.
  3. We want to make it easy to involve other people. Our team is in all different seasons of life. Mark and I found that volunteering became difficult after having kids — especially with little ones. It wasn’t just not wanting to have to find a babysitter to volunteer, but also wanting to involve our kids so they could learn to serve others #startemyoung! We truly wanted a way to serve the community that would allow anyone to participate and invite others to join.
What alleys do you clean?

Where we work (and where some of our team lives!) is in the Five Points neighborhood, just north of downtown Denver. So, we start where we are. Until we can conquer the alleys in and around Five Points, this is where we will stay.

How can I get involved?

Wanna meet our swell faces and roll up your sleeves besides us? Send us your info (select “Volunteer Opportunities”) and we’ll keep you in the loop about upcoming events.

San Rafael Alley Clean-up | Denver, CO | Love Your Hood

Pete + Celeste | Littleton

Pete + Celeste

Parkwood Estates, Littleton

A few years back, LYH broker Deb Albrandt helped Pete and Celeste buy their first home. Celeste actually loved the home buying process so much that she decided to make real estate her career (and is now a part of the Love Your Hood team!). This isn’t the first time Deb has wooed her clients to a career in real estate — if you’re one of her clients a big change may be on your horizon, in addition to a new home! This is the story of Pete and Celeste’s new digs in Littleton:

Pete + Celeste | Littleton

What made you fall in love with this house?

The view. Nuff said. We couldn’t take our eyes off the view. Fortunately, our first showing was at night so we actually looked at the house for that one….!

Pete + Celeste | Littleton

What prompted you to move here?

It was a perfect storm of events, actually. Just a couple weeks after a losing my grandpa back in Ohio, my husband and I were sitting on our Aunt and Uncle’s deck with my parents (they were visiting from OH on a previously planned trip). Without mentioning it, both of us felt… something. The following Saturday we were waking up and I asked Pete if he wanted to trash our plans to move to ocean-front somewhere and buy a house in Colorado. Clearly, the answer was a yes!

What do you love most about your neighborhood?

Getting to know our neighbors. Our first rental in Ohio had a great community feel – everyone talked, popped over, knew each other. Since then, we’ve been plagued by anonymity and craved that neighborly attitude. The fact a few neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves made us feel like home from day one.

Is there a project you’re dying to start?

YES! SO MANY PROJECTS! But, if I had to pick one it would be to finish the basement. I want to keep most of the 700+ sq ft open, but with a flex space for a spare bedroom. Pete insists on a full master bathroom and plenty of storage. I’m most excited about figuring out a wine and beer cellar (fingers crossed on that one) – perfection would be wine or whiskey barrel-lined walls with a stone floor and a barrel to stand around an sip, of course!

Any projects you’ve already tackled?

Just about every wall was white – definitely didn’t work with this house! We’ve painted just about the entire house – all the way up to the 22 ft ceiling! We completely redid the master bath, which I think best represents our “eclectic” style… the vanity is an entertainment center from this great furniture place downtown – Urban Hardwood! Around the year mark, Dad came out from to lay the hardwood floors upstairs in the bedroom, hall and loft. Power tools and sawdust everywhere?! Yes, Please!

What are things in your new neighborhood that remind you of your hometown?

Haha! The fact our next-door neighbor is from Cleveland doesn’t hurt! We also have a handful of mid-west transplants nearby so there’s never a shortage of those who sincerely appreciate more than 1 day of sun a month in the winter, but still LOVE a solid thunderstorm!

Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

It seems simple, but we just want to be surrounded people who want to live in a community: that smile and wave as we pass by (if not stopping to catch up!) and are comfortable popping over for a beer or asking for a hand (or lending one)! Some will just be a wave and a smile, others will grow into close friendship, but we’ll be what neighbors should be regardless!

Pete + Celeste | Littleton

What are some of your neighborhood favorites?

Two words: Downtown Littleton. We love strolling through main street.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

There are so many cute shops and restaurants but these are the ones we frequent:

Coffee Shop: Hands down, our favorite is Ground Up. Ro is a fellow Midwesterner and is always brewing up something to make me happy!

Boutique: Angel Concept. A very cute boutique that helps underprivileged women gain job skills. Rooted Boutique is another AWESOME clothing boutique.

Littleton, Colorado | Love Your Hood®

Pizza: Saucy’s for their cheeseburger pizza (it has American cheese, mustard, and ketchup and it.is.delicious).

Brewery: Jake’s and Green Mountain Beer Company.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

Italian: Angelina’s.

Sushi: Smoking Fins or Iwayama.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

Specialty Store: Chocolate Therapist.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

Ice Cream: Inside Scoop.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

A mile from downtown Littleton is Farm House at Breckenridge Brewery and then of course, Lucile’s Creole Cafe.

Littleton | Love Your Hood

Park: Carbon Mountain is our go to – it’s walking distance from the house and has over 15 miles of trails throughout the park. We are less than 10 minutes from Mount Falcon and Green Mountain, too!