"Within each child lies the sleeping,
beautiful Self that we must awaken."
Project Renewal works with all members of the neighborhood, but since its beginning in 1974 the children have been the primary focus. Sr. Concetta Bendicente, PHJC, from Chicago, started Project Renewal with the vision of “presence,” for the children. Residential volunteers have a stabilizing impact in the lives of the children, and their day-to-day love and support enables the sleeping, beautiful Self in each child to awaken. Educating, building self-esteem and affirming each child for his/her individual worth are the paramount goals of Project Renewal.
Project Renewal’s main purpose is to be a positive presence for the children and families in our low-income neighborhood of Davenport. Our service is extended through day-to-day contact with the children through treats, educational and recreational activities through-out the year in Project Renewal’s Afterschool Program and Summer Park Program, as well as through the live-in staff’s daily presence. For many children, struggling with everyday issues, Project Renewal is one of the few anchors in their lives. Project Renewal is an important organization in our community which can deeply impact the life of a child and is very rewarding personally for those who volunteer or provide financial support.
Project Renewal program activities for children teaches non-violent conflict resolution skills, interpersonal relationships, constructive use of time, appropriate social behaviors, emphasize the importance of a complete education, and foster the growth of love and self-esteem within each child. Through our service and presence we give the children a loving, educational and recreational environment with positive role models in which they can feel safe.
Project Renewal also serves as an educational training center for persons interested in serving low-income people. Youth groups, college students, church members, boy scouts, retired persons, and people from all walks of life volunteer at Project Renewal. Through one-to-one contact with the children, volunteers gain insight into the root causes of poverty, unemployment, and low self-esteem. Volunteers often feel in their experience they receive more than they give.
Project Renewal volunteers are a vital ingredient of the Project Renewal family. Notre Dame University students make our site their home and summer service learning experience every year. College students, interns, and staff live in community. Many people from the wider community provide spiritual and financial support. Although Project Renewal is nondenominational, strong ties are kept with the Diocese of Davenport and several religious orders. The annual budget is met through direct-appeals, private donations from churches, businesses, families, and small grant awards. It is the concern and moral support of the wider community that encourages Project Renewal volunteers to continue their efforts to help correct the injustices of the inner city, and bring love and dignity to the people of the neighborhood.