Established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Revitalization 2000 (R2K) interacts with residents of the Ville neighborhood in North St. Louis in a hands-on, grass roots fashion. Claver House is the home base of our operations. Residents themselves must be integral to the process of solving problems and making improvements in the Ville. Through our programs and as a founding member of the Ville Collaborative, we help facilitate the process and assist in meeting health, education, and welfare needs of these residents. Our projects provide opportunities for volunteers living at or helping at Claver House to meaningfully connect with and build relationships with Ville residents. These projects also help beautify the area and make it safer. Through our neighborhood engagement residents become aware of the opportunities and resources made available by both our projects and those of the local schools, churches, agencies, and organizational collaborations. The underlying goal of all our efforts is to treat each person with kindness and dignity, develop trust, build hope, and promote improvement within the Ville community by helping one person at a time, giving them what they need.
Our most ambitious project is Claver House Commons. This project has three principal objectives:
1.Offer science and literacy-based enrichment activities to grade school age youth living in the Ville. Our approach is to invite volunteers to share their personal experience and passion for reading, science, and technology. We provide an environment where volunteers can commit at whatever level their lives and their interests allow. Our volunteers guide our youth to new areas of discovery that help ignite and focus their own passions and expand their horizons.
2.Provide a service-learning environment for volunteers involved in this project that promotes “service of faith and the promotion of justice” (GC32). We provide student volunteers an opportunity to live as a member of our Claver House resident community. Through their experience of “voluntarily displacement” (Nouwen, McNeil, Morrison), active interaction with the neighborhood, and reflection on their experiences, there emerge a sense of reality “that includes the broken world, especially the world of the poor, waiting for healing” and an ability “to recognize God as already at work in our world” (Nicolas).
3.In awareness of the barriers to learning that poverty creates, respond to the needs of the neighborhood through engaging with residents in an ongoing, personal level. Our approach includes inviting neighborhood residents to engage in the enrichment activities involving their children. It also includes responding to the need to address physical hunger by growing food in our community gardens, collecting nonperishable foods and hygiene supplies, and distributing them to neighbors. For needs beyond our ability to meet, we make residents aware of any nearby resources that can help.