Groundbreaking is a showing of faith to community and aged

December 7, 2013 

Today at 12:30 p.m. ground will be broken on the campus of St. Paul's Home and Retirement Apartments to officially begin the construction of a beautiful new facility. This $29.5 million expansion project, scheduled to be completed in 2015, will offer to the elder population of our community a person-centered care household design, all set within an environment that closely resembles home.

The new St. Paul's Home will provide a continuum of care that covers the spectrum from independent living to rehabilitation services to assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. According to one St. Paul's Home brochure, "The goal for the new St. Paul's Home is to provide a culture of caring designed to treat the whole person: their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, and rehabilitation needs."

Those of us at St. Paul United Church of Christ are thrilled about this new project. Because this new construction reflects our own congregational commitment to the Franklin Neighborhood and our greater Belleville community, our congregation will be supporting this project not only with encouraging words and prayers but with significant financial resources as well.

This new venture courageously continues a caring mission to the elder population of our community, which began 87 years ago when a house on E Street was provided through the generosity of Walter and Bertha Kohl. The house was given to St. Paul Church to be used as a home for the aged of all faiths. Over the years, what began with that house grew and developed through a series of expansion projects, the most recent-to-date being the project that resulted in a 53-unit apartment building in 1988.

While St. Paul Church continues to cherish its relationship with St. Paul's Home, support and commitment to St. Paul's Home extends far out into the community. It is reflected in the wide support that is gathering around the project.

Over the past 10 years it has been my personal privilege to serve on the Board of Directors of St. Paul's Home, as well as to serve St. Paul UCC as senior pastor. For me, there is an easy compatability of mission between the two. Both institutions are committed to serving within a changing and oftentimes challenging downtown environment. Both hold tightly to a hope for Belleville and the Franklin Neighborhood. Both trust that God is a God of the past, the present and the future.

The past 20 years, of course, have seen many wonderful things take place within the Franklin Neighborhood. The Franklin Neighborhood Community Association, which formed in the early 1990s, continues to be a vibrant beacon and mainstay. Resources channeled into the Franklin School by Belleville School District 118 have produced a school that consistently provides a quality education experience to its students.

The Community Interfaith Food Pantry, which has served our community these past six years from its facility at Second and B streets, combines the efforts of many Belleville congregations, businesses and groups to feed more than 600 families per month.

In recent months, Racial Harmony has moved into its new facility within the neighborhood, located on Second Street. All of these efforts are efforts of hope. The construction of the new St. Paul's Home enjoys wonderful company.

How appropriate that this new investment in Belleville comes just as Belleville will celebrate its 200th anniversary. For those of you who may not be aware, it also comes as St. Paul Church will be celebrating its 175th anniversary.

If your schedule allows, please join us this afternoon on the parking lot in front of the St. Paul's Apartment building, 1021 W. E St. We'll be breaking ground and welcoming the future.

Drew Kramer is senior pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville.

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