We asked three young men walking from Fairfield Ave what they saw as priorities for the neighborhood.
One said that the young people need more activities and opportunities. When he was growing up there was a summer job program for young people. He does not see the same number of activities and for him, violence is the result.
Another guy talked about a basketball and mentoring program idea he had developed to teach the young people skills while also playing basketball. There are a lot of good ideas like this that people from the neighborhood share regularly. How do we connect them with the resources and support to make these good visions and dreams a reality?
Young guys in the neighborhood have been the best sounding board in the neighborhood.
They have helped give direction to searching for how St. Peter’s could fulfill its potential as a resource for the neighborhood.
When talking to a couple of younger guys about employment, they said they had tried to start their own lawn care business every summer for a while because they had been trained and worked for a large lawn care business previously. But they had not been able to get it off the ground.
One of them talked about other talents he had. But how the decision he regrets is not going to college. He said you learn other things in college besides the core subjects. You learn the intangibles that allow you to build a business around your talent.
He is not the first to speak this way. There is an awareness in the neighborhood of a set of skills required to navigate, plan, and have success in the world of business and it is that set of skills that I think we as a congregation need to pay attention to.
They also spoke about needing a list of job opportunities and their requirements, particularly places that hire ex-felons, to let people in the neighborhood know their possibilities.
On our walk this week, after seeing a family walking whose child we baptized two weeks ago at the Bishop’s visit, we ran into a young lady on a walk.
Dennis recognized her as a young woman who he had taken to Shrine Mont as a little girl. Now she is in her 30’s and life is hard: a couple of tough diagnoses recently. But she remembered Shrine Mont camps in the summer fondly.
And then after the walk, Dennis asked the question: what can we do for adults that is set apart the way that PeterPaul sets aside space for children to develop?
That I think is the right question, because if we take the responsibility to take a young girl to Shrine Mont, a place set apart, and expose her to what’s possible, surely then we also have a responsibility to give her space set apart for God to develop her as a young woman into the fullness of who God created her to be.
We took an unusual walk last Monday. Rather than walk the neighborhood as usual, we took a field trip down to Grace and Holy Trinity Church for a meeting of church folk interested in supporting families in the East End.
There were good people there (a lot of Episcopalians) and they were trying to figure out what kind of model to bring into Richmond to help church folk from around metro-Richmond support families in the East End.
Mr. Crenshaw has owned and operated the store beside St. Peter’s for over 40 years. Everybody in the neighborhood knows Crenshaw’s. If you want to tell someone where the church is, tell them next to Crenshaw’s.
Mr. Crenshaw and I started talking about employment last week when I went over to pick up some peanuts and Gatorade as a snack. He talked about decades ago when there were a lot of factory jobs in Shockoe Bottom and Southside. People went down and worked in the factories. Now those jobs aren’t here anymore. He said food stamps and all are a relatively recent thing here.
He said people have been hard hit by the economic downturn. We started brainstorming ideas about how to address employment up here. What kind of factory would work here?
He suggested something to do with food, because people always need food even when they cannot afford other things. Something to think about…