Building a New Partnership in Smoketown
One thing we have learned in 2020 is that we human beings are resilient! At St Paul when the pandemic closed our doors, we quickly adjusted to online worship, Zoom classes, and new ways of distributing our Resource Center food and clothing to those in need.
Our Resilience Team which formed in 2019, has helped us understand the impact of healthy living habits and access to health care, nutrition and fitness on our ability to be resilient. Those in our community who live with trauma and adversity from early childhood are much less able to adapt in times of social and economic stress such as we are experiencing now. There is a crisis in parts of our city, especially in predominantly black neighborhoods.
Over the summer, a prayer group formed around the concerns for racial justice in our community. From weeks of reading, studying, and praying, there emerged a desire to take some steps toward building a bridge of better understanding between white and black communities, knowing that if we lay a foundation, we provide an opportunity for God’s grace to enter in and create something new and beautiful. Dr. Julia Mitchell was a part of that prayer group, and her pediatric clinic in Smoketown was in the process of implementing an NTI program for students needing extra help with online learning this fall. That program and others at the Smoketown Family Wellness Center (SFWC) needed funding. Their needs and our desire to provide opportunities for St. Paul members looking for avenues of meaningful action came together, and we began to explore a new partnership. With the support of the Resilience Team and five other ministry groups at St Paul as well as the St Paul staff a decision was made to commit $6000 from our Mission Fund toward the new Youth Health Ambassadors’ mentoring program at SFWC. (See below for more details about this program.)
In addition to their need for funds for NTI and Youth Health Ambassadors, there are opportunities for hands-on volunteers (SignUpGenius link below) to help with one-on-one tutoring and caring for the community garden that supplies fresh vegetables to families in the neighborhood. The Literacy Room in the Center is also looking for donations of new or gently used books. (A list of requested culturally relevant titles available below.)
After the restrictions of COVID-19 have been lifted, there will be many other ways of forming friendships, learning from and being of service with our neighbors in Smoketown. We are excited to see how God will nurture and grow this relationship between our communities!
Smoketown Family Wellness Center is a pediatric clinic that also serves as a small-scale community center to support needs of families in the community. The Center seeks to provide trauma-informed care and to normalize behavioral and emotional health needs. Smoketown Family Wellness Center is attempting to intervene early and holistically to prevent chronic diseases by addressing children’s physical and emotional health and by supporting the families and addressing their needs so that they can nurture their children’s bodies and dreams (and resilience!).
Smoketown is the oldest Black community in Louisville. Many health disparities are found in communities such as Smoketown. The life expectancy for a resident in Smoketown is as much as 15 years below the average in other communities in Louisville.
If you would like to learn more about the vision, mission, and needs of the Wellness Center, this video from the 2020 Give for Good drive offers a brief overview. Also, this 5-minute SFWC video, made in 2016, introduced the Center’s vision and raised funding for the renovation of the building.
Donations to Smoketown Family Wellness Center can be made through St. Paul through our online giving portal here. Go go Click Here to Give Online, then select Mission Fund from the drop-down menu, and type in Smoketown Family Wellness Center.
Needs and Opportunities to Build Relationships at the Center
- NTI (Non-Traditional Instruction):
- Lead teacher (Dr. Lavinia Hawkins) salary: $6,250 ($1250 per week)
- Teacher’s aide (not yet hired or identified): $600 per week
- Additional cleaning costs (not yet hired or identified): $550 per week
- Volunteer tutors for one on one assistance
- For the entire fall semester (Current plus Oct 5 – Dec 18)
- Lead teacher salary $20,000 ($6,250 +13, 750. $1250/week)
- Teacher’s aide: (not yet hired or identified) $600 per week
- Additional cleaning: (not yet hired or identified) $550 per week
- SignUpGenius link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080e4aaba82ba0fa7-smoketown
- Smoketown Youth Health Ambassador Program:
- Total cost for year of programming is $13,030. This includes biweekly meetings with food, incentives and promotional materials for a target of 15 youth between 13 and 17 years of age. Overseen by a Vista Member and staff person.
- Monthly Educational component to include speakers on topics of nutrition, reproductive health, fitness, life skills, financial literacy, stress management and other areas related to a healthy life.
- Monthly social component to build relationships and trust.
- Book Collection: need for culturally relevant titles (see below for a list of requested books). Carmichael’s Kids is offering a 20% discount to St. Paul for any books purchased for SFWC.
- Community garden volunteers during the growing season. If you are interested in gardening, email firstname.lastname@example.org and she will connect you to the 365 Healthy Living Coordinator, Shawn Wright.
- Other things that would be helpful:
- Interpreter services. Not reimbursable by payers.
- Automatic BP monitor: ~$2000
- Instrument based vision screeners.
Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashiti Harrison
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
I AM…Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys by Avesha Rodriguez
I AM…Positive Affirmations for Brown Girls by Avesha Rodriguez
When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner
I am Enough by Grace Byers
Skin Like Mine (Kids Like Mine) by LaTashia M. Perry
A Girl Named Misty: The True Story of Misty Copeland (American Girl: A Girl Named) by Kelly Starling Lyons
ABC: I Love Me by Miriam Muhammad
Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke
I Need You to Know: The ABC’s of Black Girl Magic by Lora McClain-Muhammad
Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim
100 African Americans Who Shaped American History by Chrisanne Beckner
Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids by PhD Kimberly Brown Pellum
It’s OK to be Different: A Children’s Picture Book about Diversity and Kindness by Sharon Purtill
Listening with My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
Young adult list:
Track series by Jason Reynolds
I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
Young adult list with murder/death/violence/police themes:
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore Carmichael’s Kids carries many of these and we can deliver them to the Center.