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Filling Hungry Bellies and Hungry Minds
Imagine…..you come home one late afternoon and find three young children sitting on the front stoop of your home. You don’t know them. What would you do? What would you think? As reported by the St. Louis REVIEW (1-11-18), this did happen to Kim Davis (pictured left with Barb Doering) in the Ville neighborhood of North St. Louis. A bit startled in finding the three of them firmly planted on her front step, Kim asked if she could help.
The children said they needed something to eat and they offered to do some work to earn money to buy food. As Kim, a former nurse and a mother of four and grandmother of four listened to their concerns, she recalled, “My heart was melting. How could I help them?"
Kim did manage to satisfy their immediate hunger needs that day from her own kitchen. But she was well aware that there were many others who would be hungry as they were often left to fend for themselves in a house with little food while their parents were working. With the help of many others Kim collected fresh produce, snacks and books to be part of a backpack-giveaway sponsored by the Ville Collaborative. As this program grew, Kim shared her ideas with Steve Hutchison of Revitalizatiion 2000, an organization that owns the Claver House, a resident volunteer community in the Ville neighborhood. Together they started Project Read and Feed a program that welcomed neighborhood children to Claver House for a bite to eat and fun activities to stimulate their minds.
After reading the article in the St. Louis REVIEW, members Susan Peters and Barb Doering saw a real potential for Assistance League being able to help! After encouraging words from president Suzanne Pratl, Barb Doering, chairman of Books from Friends along with Mary Belgeri, chairman of Assistance League Outreach, Susan Long and Dawn Thomas arranged to spend time at Claver House. There they met with Kim Davis and Steve Hutchison to better understand Project Read and Feed and the operation of Claver House.
After their visit, Barb Doering said this, “We saw and heard about basic unfulfilled needs of many of the neighborhood families. But we were impressed with what the Claver House is accomplishing through Project Read and Feed in fulfilling many of these needs! And we were excited as we were sure Assistance League could help them make a difference!”
On February 23, Kim Davis and Steve Hutchison paid a visit to Assistance League headquarters. They returned to Claver House with a truck load of books provided through Books From Friends and cleaning supplies, hygiene products and boxes of food provided by Assistance League Outreach.
Through Read and Feed, this Ville neighborhood is attempting to provide a sense of community and become an anchor for its residents. Assistance League, by helping to fill the hungry bellies and feed the hungry minds is playing a small part in this happening and in the revitalization of this neighborhood.
--Contributed by Jeanne Belle, Marketing Committee