SLACO Summer Program a Success
This summer, SLACO and Neighborhood Houses partnered with Etzel Place Apartments to offer youth in grades Kindergarten through eight grade a free, full day, 7-week summer camp experience that included enrichment activities, field trips and summer fun.
Held at SLACO's Community Center, the camp ran from mid-June to late July during the weekdays. Campers received lunch daily, along with snacks. A total of 27 youth from five different schools (charter schools, magnet programs and neighborhood schools) attended.
The camp provided parents with a safe, affordable option for their children while many worked during the day, while also providing learning activities to help avoid the "summer slide".
Enrichment Activities involved:
By practicing these essential subjects, campers worked toward reducing learning loss that many children experience during summer months. They also honed their social skills by doing daily activities that centered on dealing with emotions and every day conflict. Campers also wrote journals and were eager to share their entries with new friends. Journaling was a real confidence-builder; a way for campers to relive positive daily experiences.
In addition to enrichment activities, campers enjoyed the arts via dance/music and artistic expression. Led by a dance professional, campers learned African and contemporary dance steps. Other artistic expressions were experienced through activities like mask making, where campers made self portraits that later hung in the halls at SLACO. At the end of the summer, children took all their art work home.
Field trips gave campers a welcomed break in routine. Campers eagerly prepped for every outing by researching where they were going. Many of the outings were a new experience for campers. Some field trips were hands-on learning experiences, while others were places for observation. Wherever the place, campers journaled their thoughts about their experiences, and shared likes and dislikes with their friends.
At the end of the summer, all campers received a backpack filled with school supplies and a t-shirt. Funding for the program was provided by grant from Horizon Housing and SLACO. In-kind support was provided by Neighborhood Houses and AmeriCorps VISTA.
Introducing Kevin McKinney, SLACO's New Executive Director
SLACO is pleased to announce Kevin McKinney as the fourth Executive Director in its 37-year history. He succeeds Nancy Thompson, who retired this month.
McKinney bring SLACO eighteen years of experience in housing and urban development. He spent twelve years as an elected official, nine years as Mayor and member of the Board of Aldermen in Jonesborough Tennessee. Since 2003, he has been the owner of Housing 202, Ltd. serving as a consultant for faith-based and non-profit organizations in Missouri and nationwide. He has been involved with the development of eight senior housing facilities and two housing developments for persons with disabilities.
Kevin and his wife Kimberly are residents of the Shaw Neighborhood. He is a board member of the South City YMCA, Friends of Tower Grove Park and the 1st Vice President of the Garden District Commission.
He was named to the Business Journal's "Top 40 under 40", won the Centurion Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Rights and Completed the FOCUS St Louis Impact St Louis Leadership Program.
SLACO Executive Director Comments on Vacant House Fire that Leaves Family Homless
KSDK NewsChannel 5
April 23, 2018
Kevin McKinney said vacant homes are a widespread issue that can be dangerous for any area and they're costing the city a lot of money.
ST. LOUIS – On Monday morning, Toni Jordan watched her home burn down in flames thanks to a vacant house next door that caught fire.
"I have no roof. All my furniture has been water damaged, everything in my home, my ceilings, are falling in," Jordan said.
Furthermore, Jordan said this is not the first time this has happened in the 5000 block of Vernon, and she’s lived there since December.
"Just about three months ago it had caught on fire. Somebody set it on fire from the back," Jordan said.
Kevin McKinney is the executive director of the St. Louis Association of Community Organizations (SLACO). He said vacant homes are a widespread issue that can be dangerous for any area. And because they exist, it's costing the city a lot of money.
"Not only can they be crime infested but just like you saw here on Vernon, a fire broke out. Somebody who could have been squatting in there could have been injured," McKinney said. "Nobody is paying any taxes on these vacant buildings. Consequently we're throwing money away by having to board them up; having to mow in front of them. It's estimated that the city spent over $14 million in trying to take care of these vacant properties."
And McKinney said the city is getting no return on the investment. But groups like SLACO are working to change that.
Last week, Mayor Krewson said "Our vacancy problem is decades in the making." And that’s why the city plans to get rid of vacant buildings.
"One of the things that SLACO has done it try to identify (vacancies). And we’ve been promoting them to try to get people to go out and look at them and maybe buy them. But it’s going to take a real serious effort from our elected officials and people within the city," McKinney said.
West End Neighborhood - Sign Up for Free After-School Program!
This free program for ages 6-12 is held every weekday from 3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. at our Etzel Community Center on Hamilton three blocks south of Page. Stop by any day that school is in session. We have contracted with Neighborhood Houses to run this program, which is available on a first come, first served basis, so apply early if you live within the area bounded by Page on the north, Skinker on the west, Delmar on the south, and Union on the east.
From left: Otis Williams, executive director, St. Louis Development Corporation; Alvin Willis, president, Lewis Place Improvement Association; Carol Johnson, member, Lewis Place Improvement Association; and Mayor Lyda Krewson at the mayor's Business Luncheon in late October 2018.
At top and on the bottom: Participants from a recent Revealing Our Humanity Police and Community Engagement session held at SLACO on June 30.
In our effort to incorporate recommendations from the Forward Through Ferguson: A Path toward Racial Equity Report, SLACO hosted a series in the West End neighborhood called the Revealing Our Humanity Police and Community Engagement Model. This series is a tailored spin off of Touchy Topic Tuesdays (TTT) and is designed specifically to cultivate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve
This series is in response to the report that calls for restoring civilian law enforcement relations through community policing. This is in response to a call to action that facilitates more positive police/community interactions. A total of four four sessions took place, with the most recent in September.
During that session, which was held in the 5thDistrict, West End neighbors reconnected with police officers to coordinate sustainable efforts to connect, serve and support each other. They also strengthened foundational relationships that were built throughout the first three sessions.
Initially, there was some discomfort in navigating these dynamics, given the trust erosion that already existed. However, using the TTT model as a blueprint allowed participants to stay engaged.
“We witnessed (a) shift in the hearts of officers and community members, evidenced by their willingness to stay engaged through the discomfort and future intentional efforts to rebuild trust,” said Tiffany Robertson, a founding member of TTT. “Dewitt Campbell, Perri Johnson, Gerry Rauch and myself have worked for over a year to move from concept, to implementation, to fruition, and today was the culmination of that process.”
Thanks to Tiffany Robertson, Dewitt Campbell from NCCJSTL, Gerry Rauch and Capt. Perri Johnson for bringing this program to the community.
SLACO Afterschool Program Featured in
Horizon Housing Foundation Newsletter
"Lewis Place Improvement Association would like to thank Mayor Krewson and Otis Williams of the St. Louis Development Corporation for awarding Lewis Place the 2018 Development of the Year Award for our Lewis Place Street Renovation Project. The project increased the livability and desirability of a three block area within the neighborhood, the Lewis Place Neighborhood as a whole, and the City of St. Louis.
We believe Lewis Place is a great Place to live."
-- Alvin Willis, president, Lewis Place
St. Louis Association of Community Organizations
Lewis Place Wins Development of the Year Award