Volunteers breathe new life into the homes behind the historic St. Louis Church

ST. LOUIS – For more than 15 years, North Grand Neighborhood Services has breathed new life into derelict homes in north St. Louis. Directly behind a historic church, the small volunteer organization has a big impact.

On Saturday morning, NGNS CEO Joe Feld and other volunteers were working at home just behind Sts. Teresa and Bridget Catholic Church on North Grand.

“We’re just trying to take those negative qualities in the neighborhood and turn them into positive housing, affordable housing for families, which is a critical need in our city,” Feld said.

In addition to three tiny homes the organization had already completed, Feld and other volunteers continued a project they started last winter.

“It was built in 1881. It’s been abandoned since at least 2005, so it’s been a neighborhood thorn in the side and a nuisance all these years,” Feld said.

He said his organization has partnered with other nonprofits, along with St. Louis City, to improve more than 20 properties within a four-mile radius since 2005.

NGNS also gives high school students in St. Louis County the opportunity to learn about and connect with the city.

“Most of them are from DeSmet Jesuit High School, where many of the volunteers are retired teachers,” Feld said here with us today, but we typically have about 10 fewer students.”

Dick Donohue is one of many retired volunteer teachers. He said the opportunity is a great way for students to get a different perspective.

“They come here, they meet the people, they feel comfortable. I think a lot of stereotypes are challenged,” Donohue said. “Then they also understand that there is a need for quality housing, especially in North City, so they walk away with that understanding that has to help going forward.”

Also, Donouhe said that he can do something he enjoys, which is helping people.

“I can’t think of a better use of my time, you know? At the end of the day you look up and you’re like, ‘Hey, we did that.’ So it feels really good,” he said.

Donohue said the home, which NGNS hopes to have completed by the end of summer 2022, has significance for the city.

“This is the story of St. Louis. A family will be able to enjoy this building, so you know what a great satisfaction that brings you,” he said.

https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/volunteers-give-new-life-to-homes-behind-historic-st-louis-church/ Volunteers breathe new life into the homes behind the historic St. Louis Church

Nate Jones

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