Despite its rich history, Dayton was dubbed by Forbes as one of the ten fastest-dying cities in the United States. As part of a county known as the “drug overdose capital of America,” there is a growing abundance of parentless children. 70% of students qualify for free or subsidized lunches, while 15% do not have a steady home.
Joining Forces for Good
In the fall of 2014, Pastor Daniel Powell of Calvary Open Bible Church took every pastor in the city out for a meal and shared his vision of joining together, in the name of Christ, in an effort to stop the decline of Riverside. These leaders quickly discovered the power of working together and Hope4Riverside was formed.
- Community-wide Worship - In February 2016 we hosted our first community-wide worship service at Stebbins High School, with over 500 people in attendance. Seven different pastors from the city led prayer.
- Trash Cleanup - Hope4Riverside has also embraced the dirty, mundane disciplines of city life. We have bolstered existing neighborhood efforts for trash cleanup, spreading the word and recruiting more residents to create a larger cleanup network.
- Zoning violations - Early in our partnership we began working with the zoning administrator in our city to identify abandoned houses and remedy the associated hazards to neighborhood health and safety. We raised awareness for simple home infractions of elderly homeowners who lacked the health or resources to maintain their property adequately and worked to mobilize volunteers.
- Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast - In partnership with Mayor Bill Flaute, we host an annual Mayor’s Community Prayer Breakfast. The expressed purpose is to honor God for his work in our community, seek his direction for the coming year, and pray for our community, corporate, business and spiritual leaders as we build bridges and partnerships.
- Material Resource Drives - One of the most observably significant ways that we have worked together to serve our city is in our material resource drives. School teachers often observe children arriving to school without proper winter attire or supplies. Leaders rally the Hope4Riverside group alongside others to gather and distribute donated socks, hats, gloves and other critically supplies for learning.
- Mentoring - Last year we piloted a mentoring initiative intended to “build strong children rather than repair broken men.” Students who have Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are at increased risk of repeating grades in school. The ACE Study found that the higher a child’s ACE score, the greater the risk of experiencing poor physical and mental health, poor academic achievement, and negative social consequences later in life. The Career Life mentoring initiative seeks to push back against the negative effects of ACEs by creating opportunities for loving adults to build stable relationships with children.
Page Content Adapted From:
Risner, James. “How God Is Using Broken Churches to Join Hands with Their Broken City for the Common Good”