By Sarah Schafer
Elizabeth Henderson waited years to get new, safe doors on her north St. Louis home. On Nov. 7 and 14, more than 60 volunteers from Missouri churches — Immanuel Lutheran Church, Barnhart; St. John’s Lutheran Church, Warrenton; and Timothy Lutheran Church, The Rock, and Historic Trinity Lutheran Church, all in St. Louis — made Henderson’s and three other elderly College Hill residents’ much-needed home repairs a reality.
Henderson and her neighbors remember when College Hill was a safe place to raise a family. But more recently the neighborhood has struggled with deterioration and crime.
In 2006, residents and members of St. Paul Lutheran Church began the “Campaign for College Hill” to revitalize their community with the help of local LCMS congregations and Lutheran Housing Support, a ministry of LCMS World Relief and Human Care that helps restore affordable housing in blighted neighborhoods.
“We’ve got a lot of great neighbors here,” said College Hill resident Jim Schmidt. “We all look out for each other.” In fact, it was one of Schmidt’s neighbors who brought him the paperwork to get volunteers to repair portions of his roof and check the plumbing.
Volunteers of all ages and abilities not only replaced doors and patched roofs, but they also repaired brickwork, “gutted” a resident’s living room, and began putting up drywall.
Ken Horvath of Historic Trinity volunteered with his Christ Care group in memory of an elderly group member who died.
Brock Schwartz of The Rock came because “It’s what God has called us to do,” he said. “Our whole goal is to spread God’s Word through our actions and helping others.”
Throughout each work day, volunteers met the homeowners and got to know one another.
“We live in different neighborhoods, but we’re not that much different,” said volunteer Valerie Hellend. “We’re all children of God.”
More than 30 elderly College Hill residents submitted applications for home improvements, and most are still waiting for volunteers to help them.
“There’s always someone in need, in every community,” said Don Strohmeyer, lead organizer of the “Campaign for College Hill” and a member of Historic Trinity. Work weekends will resume next spring and volunteers are needed.
To volunteer, contact Strohmeyer at 314-570-8824 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Schafer is communications project manager for LCMS World Relief and Human Care.
Posted Nov. 25, 2009