Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cultivating Change in The Inner City of St Louis, Missouri with Love the Lou

Change comes with time, effort, love, and dedication.  Outside of our comfort zone, but within our own state there are people that are struggling, there is communities that are in distress, and there is families searching for change! 

Recently our family and a few of our friends had the opportunity to serve with Love the Lou in Saint Louis, Missouri.   Never had I had the opportunity to take my kids on a mission trip - and I wanted to be able to share with them the experience of serving and showing God’s love to others.

Love the Lou is a movement of restoration for the City of St Louis, Missouri – the mission works to restore, rebuild, and cultivate change within the inner city.  North City also known as the inner city of St. Louis is well known for gang violence, crime, street shootings - making life difficult for the families and children growing up and living within the community.

On our brief trip to serve with Love the Lou we spent time working in their Enright Community Gardens, learning about the Enright Avenue community, and visiting with the youth involved in their STL Lift program. 

The Enright Community Gardens are a unique project developed by Love the Lou – currently there are three gardens, each serving a different purpose for the community.

Garden One is filled with raised garden beds; families choose their garden, plant and maintain the garden throughout the growing season, and feed their family from the garden. 

Garden Two is more of a flower garden with a unique environment giving families a safe spot to enjoy an afternoon picnic, host a birthday party, or even come together for worship.  The garden includes picnic tables, a gazebo, a small library, and room for kids to play.

Garden Three is known as the Urban Farm – by far this was my kid’s favorite garden – the garden currently has a few raised beds and a chicken coop that houses five “city chickens”.  Families take turns caring and tending to the chickens; giving the caregiver family farm fresh eggs in return.

While we spent much of our day working in these unique gardens – we also spent most of our day serving beside the youth from the STL Lift program.  I must admit that the gardens were fun, but my husband and I’s hearts went to the young men and women in this program – they make a commitment to not become part of the inner city’s problem and instead work towards changing their own life as well as their community.  These are kids are close to the age of our own children, but have faced more challenges than we have as adults.  We knew we were there to serve them, but left knowing they impacted us more than we would ever impact them.

The Love the Lou mission began in 2009 by Lucas Rouggly with hope to find simple and practical ways to serve the city, from that hope sprung an organization that serves multitude of families and children in an area struggling to find hope.  

4 Ways You Can Love the Lou

(Disclosure:  This article originally appeared in The Banner Press - please support our local paper by purchasing a copy or a months subscription.) 

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