AMP Teachings

Here at Mission: St. Louis we believe that your time spent with AMP should challenge you, change you and connect you to new people and places.

When you are working on a home we want you to not only think about the immediate help you are providing, but also the many obstacles that the homeowner may be facing. You are making an impact every time you pick up a tool and agree to lend a hand, but that is one piece; we want you to walk away with a lasting understanding of the effects of poverty. 

So put your tools down and let's talk.

Members of our staff can walk you through five important conversations during your time here. 

Josh, our Executive Director, will take you through the ten year history of Mission: St. Louis. Over the last 10 years, we have realized the importance of listening over telling and have learned how to act with more than just good intentions. Our journey has been one of many steps forward, a couple steps back and lots of conversations. M:STL is always adapting, but we have always believed that people should live in neighborhoods filled with opportunity. 

Jason, our Director of Beyond Jobs, will talk about our Job & Leadership Training (JLT) program. JLT offers men ages 22-35 the chance to work on job development skills, procure internships and make connections with mentors, job coaches and volunteers. Jason will share his own personal story and explain why JLT is an important opportunity for someone who is looking for support and a chance to make themselves a better life and put them on the path for a career. 

Andy (pictured right), our Senior VP of Operations and Finance, will focus in on the fight to end poverty. We can approach change through a both charity and empowerment lens, and his discussion takes the listener through both approaches, the pros and cons of each, and, ultimately, why M:STL chose to focus on empowerment. 

Katie, our VISTA Services Manager, leads you in a discussion about poverty in St. Louis. Her goal is to "break you down and build you back up". She goes through the city/county divide and what it means to have over 90 separate municipalities (don't worry, she won't list them all). St. Louis is one of only two cities in the U.S. that still has this kind of separation. Her powerful teaching will help you understand the impact this structure has on our beautiful city. 

Last but not least we have Chris, our Student Relations Coordinator, who can examine the impact of fatherlessness. What are the repercussions that come from growing up without a strong father figure or living in a house with a man who isn't capable of providing emotionally or financially for a child? He will share his firsthand experience.

So come join us for a week, weekend or afternoon. Join us with an open heart, and open mind and be ready to work! Together we have a lot to do and we can't wait to meet you and get started! 

University of North Texas AMP Experience

  University of North Texas Alternative Spring Break group enjoyed their service trip.  AMP and Mission STL staff accompanied with them.

University of North Texas Alternative Spring Break group enjoyed their service trip.  AMP and Mission STL staff accompanied with them.

 

Overview

New year, new AMP experiences! Mission St. Louis hosted its first service trip of 2017 with University of North Texas Alternative Spring Break. These college students spent a week doing community projects, listening to inspiring lectures from our staff, and learning about our organization and the history of North St. Louis.

 

  Director of Beyond Jobs, Jason Watson, gave his lecture on the Job Leadership and Training program hosted at Mission St. Louis.

Director of Beyond Jobs, Jason Watson, gave his lecture on the Job Leadership and Training program hosted at Mission St. Louis.

 

AMP homes

UNT enjoyed their different service projects assigned to them. They were immersed in our community serving the needs of local residents and schools. Projects included weatherizing people's homes, remodeling porches, and even building a sand volleyball court. This group left with useful skills and and a sense of pride in having had made an impact.

 

 

Community Connections Are Made

  UNT built relationships with local residents they served.

UNT built relationships with local residents they served.

 

Serving the Community while Having Fun

  During UNT's down time, they fellowshipped with each other with a pajama party.

During UNT's down time, they fellowshipped with each other with a pajama party.

 

 

Feedback

"Y'all are amazing, and I thank God for pushing me to come here and experience such an amazing place."
"Honestly, I grew so much through just going into the neighborhoods....I also felt really empowered."

Mission: On the Move

When Mission: St. Louis first found a home in The Grove, it was a very different neighborhood. It was crime ridden and run-down. As The Grove has grown and flourished in recent years, our relationship with the St. Louis community has spread further north. We are being called to North City, where many of the people we serve are living.

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A Diverse History of Jeff Vander Lou

Our new neighborhood, once known as Yeatman, has a long and diverse history. Across the street from Mission: St. Louis’ new building sits the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club, once the site of Sportsman's Park, the home stadium of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1920 to 1966. Rumor has it that Babe Ruth hit a home run through the second story window of our new home!


Further south, the St. Louis Symphony played in The Odeon Theater until 1927. Parts of the neighborhood contain some of the first places in the city where African Americans could buy property. The historic Scott Joplin House sits right on our border with Midtown.

 

Sportsman's Park 1946 and 2016

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3108 N. Grand

Mission: St. Louis is setting up shop at 3108 North Grand Blvd. This historic four story building recently housed World Impact Inc, a Christian mission organization. Before that, Jamaa Learning Center, a charter school sponsored by Missouri State University was housed here. Built in 1918, the building was first a YMCA. In our basement sits an unused, beautifully tiled swimming pool, and our gym still has a wooden curved running track overlooking the basketball court. 

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Jeff Vander Lou Today

The neighborhood today has suffered a huge drop in population, high rates of poverty, and problems with crime. However, it is also home to beautiful churches like the Eastern Star Baptist Church, many architecturally important homes, parks, St. Louis Community College and even the only US branch of a worldwide corporation, Sensient Colors Inc. African Americans make up 97% of the population. 

A Legacy of Community Action

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The same year that Sportsman’s Park was torn down, community members began to worry about the city’s push to demolish large sections of the neighborhood as a part of “Urban renewal” programs. Our neighborhood’s name stems from those community members’ fight to save their neighborhood. In 1966, housing rights advocate Macler Shepard, formed Jeff-Vander-Lou, Inc, a community development organization dedicated to helping those living in low income housing by protecting and restoring existing buildings in the neighborhood.

In a 1979 news article, Shepard explained the name’s reasoning saying,
“The name stands for the three thoroughfares by which people come from the suburbs to downtown St. Louis, earn their money during the day, and disappear at 4:30. The name was a way of saying that this is part of the problem."

 

Finding Our Place

We will miss The Grove with all its coffee shops, restaurants, and unique style. However, moving to our new building means we get to learn what makes a whole new neighborhood unique. It also provides us with substantially more space to use in a multitude of ways, and more importantly, our move provides us with the opportunity to work more closely with many of the people we hope to serve. We’d like to truly become a part of this community. We are willing to look beyond those main thoroughfares and help empower individuals who want to make their home a better place.

More than half of our office has made the move to our new home on North Grand. We hope that over the coming months, the rest of our office will soon join us. We have been working hard sanding, painting, and cleaning the building, and every week more rooms are ready for desks and we think of more great ways to use this amazing space available to us.

If you would like to visit our new home or help us bring out its beauty through one of our work days, please reach out to us at jon.givens@missionstl.org. We can’t wait to see you here. 

 

 

 

Works Cited

“Census Results (2010)”. The City of St. Louis. 

“City Faces: Bringing Sprit of St. Louis”. AP. December 1979.

Hayes, Bernie. “Macler Shepard, legendary housing advocate, dies”. St. Louis American. October 2005.

“Jeff-Vander-Lou Inc: working together to build a better community”. 1979. 

“JeffVanderLou Neighborhood Page”. Wikispaces.

Silver High Top Shoes: Sherry's Story

“I’ll never forget the boy with the silver high top shoes,”

says Sherry, a resident in Forest Park Southeast who has lived here for over 50 years. The boy with the silver high top shoes was a volunteer in the AMP group that served her home.

At 66 years old, Sherry is unable to maintain all of the repairs on her home. Volunteers painted all of the ceilings on the first floor of her home, as well as painting the chain link fence in her front yard and backyard. As the volunteers were painting the fence, one of the volunteers painted his high tops with the silver paint. The memory still makes Sherry laugh to this day.

The volunteer group and Sherry bonded during the four days they were in her home. Sherry would invite them inside for lunch and make sure they got enough water as they worked in the hot summer. When the volunteer group completed their project, they gave Sherry a handmade quilt.

Sherry is an active leader in her community. She knows all of her neighbors and is a member of Midtown Mamas, a Forest Park Southeast neighborhood group. “I love it here. It’s my home,” she says. By making home repairs accessible, she is able to remain as a positive influence in her neighborhood.