Rockford, Illinois News

City launches ‘Connect Rockford’ initiative

ROCKFORD — The City of Rockford, on Thursday, launched Connect Rockford, a new initiative aimed at building a nurturing and thriving community through connections.

The grassroots effort encourages volunteer block captains to get out in their neighborhood, get to know their neighbors, create a network of people and foster a sense of belonging for everyone.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t rely solely on social media and other digital methods for communication,” City of Rockford Neighborhood Specialist Barb Chidley said. “We need human interaction. Our vision is that, through these connections, we can ensure every neighbor has access to the resources they need. And, that people will begin to connect on a deeper level, discover common interests and come together to improve quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

In coordination with Connect Rockford, Mayor Tom McNamara has created the Faith Leader Challenge to encourage faith leaders he meets with monthly and their congregations to walk neighborhoods around their houses of worship.

“We think it’s incredibly important for more people to get out in the community and have face-to-face conversations,” McNamara said. “Relationships can be created and deepened when you meet people where they are, and authentic relationships create community.”

Faith leaders are encouraged to greet those they meet along the way, pick up trash, report issues like potholes and low hanging trees, and take photos to celebrate the assets in the neighborhood.

“I faced many challenges growing up in the Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago,” said Connect Rockford Steering team member Nitro Starling, who is also a block captain in her neighborhood. “I credit my neighbors for playing a huge role in helping me develop into who I am today. Now that I’m in Rockford, I want to have the same influence on my neighbors and my community here, and I want to encourage others to do the same.”

More information is available on the Connect Rockford website or by contacting Barb Chidley at 779-348-7448 or