Changing the community

Lansdowne Community Initiative (LCI) is a mission of the Southern Illinois District to “Change The Lansdowne” area of East St. Louis by providing new homes, renovating existing ones and providing financial education.

Youth internship

On Dec. 21, LCI — along with R3 Development, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help East St. Louis youth with job opportunties — launched a six-day Christmas-break internship for high school-aged youth. The youth received professional development training and helped with numerous cleaning and construction activities. The internship consisted of 21 youths in a week-long, 35-hour paid internship. They learned not only construction and job skills, but also experienced an ecosystem of hope. Through trusting relationships, youth were given the opportunity to slow down and reflect on their life journeys.

In spite of how well the internship went, “My heart is very heavy,” said Dave Kuntz, R3 executive director. “The challenges our kids face are deep and dark. Many of them have faced trauma on levels that can only be described as pure evil. From gun violence to generational poverty to abuse to deeply broken homes and situations, our kids are in desperate need of God’s grace and a hope that can only come through the power of the Gospel.

“Each of them is amazing and beautiful in their own way and we have grown to love them immensely. Nonetheless, we see the deep darkness and challenges they live in daily. Everything in me, and the entire R3 team, wants to rescue them out of their homes to a place of greater safety and love. Given the known narrative of our community, I’m sure that comes at no surprise.”

Unity Lutheran Church and LCI was happy to host this very necessary internship for high school youth in the East St. Louis community.

Neighborhood cleanup

LCI and R3 also cleaned up 314 acres, spanning from 42nd to 45th streets and Caseyville to Van Buren avenues. Each day consisted of cleaning curbs, clearing alleyways of debris and weeds to visibly see through them and make them safer, and clearing vacant lots and abandoned houses of weeds, brush and trash.

On occasion, neighborhood residents would come out and support the cleanup projects.

Housing renovation

Three locations, with a total of seven living units, have been purchased by LCI. One single-family dwelling has been completely renovated and is home to a young family of three, their first home. Expecting an addition to the family, they are very happy to live within the Lansdowne community, where the parents grew up and went to school.

A duplex has been completed. A four-unit apartment building (near Unity Lutheran Church and School) that has been vacant for over 25 years was purchased. Renovations to this building are underway, and it is targeted for completion by July.

With the two houses purchased and renovated by Unity Lutheran Church, a total of nine living units have been acquired over the past two years. Three single-family dwellings are occupied by three families, totaling 15 people! To God be the glory!

How can you and your congregation help?

▶ Invite LCI to make a presentation at your congregation.

▶ Adopt LCI as one of your congregation’s mission projects.

▶ Agree to serve as an LCI volunteer.

▶ Make A financial donation to LCI.

▶ Sign up to receive regular mailings and information about LCI.

▶ Add LCI to your daily prayers.

Be a volunteer!

In an effort to beautify and keep Lansdowne beautiful, LCI encourages its community to keep its streets clean and its public lands healthy. Join the events on LCI’s schedule, or organize your own neighborhood cleanup team. Also, you can contribute to LCI’s effort by donating bags, gloves and trash pickup for LCI’s neighborhood clean-up. If you have extra plants or are interested in making a financial contribution, LCI appreciates the support.

Do you have a trade in electrical, carpentry or any type of home repair? Are you looking to build friendships and get involved with LCI’s community? Try volunteering. If you are interested, there is plenty of need of your skills and support.

Have fun and lend your skills while strengthening the Lansdowne community.

If you are unsure where to start, call 314-724-9949.