The RENA Community Center serves the Rogers Road community, which has historically been mistreated by the local government. A landfill was opened there in 1972 with the promise that it would close in 10 years and that the town would provide public services such as clean water and sidewalks. However, the landfill did not close until 2013, after local residents repeatedly petitioned the government, and those initial promises are still not completely fulfilled. The community center was forced to close in 2012 for violating fire and safety codes, but a new center was finally reopened in November 2014.
Mrs. Rosie Caldwell, the program manager, feels that the biggest impact of the center is creating unity among their historically black and now diverse community. The RENA Center provides services to several communities through programs such as after-school tutoring, a food bank, adult ESL classes, senior lunches, and children’s summer camp. Mrs. Caldwell states, “When the community is in need, our job is to supply that need.” All of their staff is unpaid volunteers who are committed to helping people care for themselves.
The Bonner leaders at RENA are involved in the after-school tutoring program, and their mentorship serves as an inspiration to these low-income students to pursue an education and do more than they previously thought they could do. Mrs. Caldwell says she is looking to expand the center’s programs and involve the Bonners in more administrative work such as grant writing.
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