On Monday, April 3rd, something special happened at the historic Hopewell Rosenwald School in Cedar Creek. Members of the faith communities in the Bastrop County areas of Shiloh and Cedar Creek gathered together for a community conversation. The meeting was co-designed by Bastrop County Cares and St. David’s Foundation.
The goal of the conversation was to have community leaders “sit a spell,” relax and get to know one another, while discussing community history, assets, challenges and hopes for the future. Bastrop County is a unique place that covers 900 square miles of land, with many rural areas lacking access to the resources needed for residents to survive and thrive. That’s why churches have long-served as pillars of the community, providing a sense of belonging and support for people. However, churches can also be isolated and not always know about all the resources available to help their community.
The location of the community conversation, the Hopewell Rosenwald School, holds cultural and historical significance. It was built in 1923 as a school for African American children during a time of segregation. The school was constructed with funding from the Rosenwald Fund, which was established by Julius Rosenwald, CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company, to build schools for African American children in the rural South. The Hopewell Rosenwald School was one of 5,357 Rosenwald schools built across the South, and it served as an important educational institution for the African American community in Bastrop County for several decades. By convening at this historic site, attendees were able to recognize and honor the rich history of the African American community in the area and let that history build the foundation for the community’s future.
Ronnie McDonald, conversation facilitator and former County Judge, compared the group to the Justice League, each member a superhero equipped with special gifts to help their community. Attendees were invited to share their “superpowers” and soon discovered a group of people who are good at making connections and are passionate about supporting others. Through small group discussions, the attendees identified the challenges, assets and opportunities for their communities and made deeper connections.
Bastrop County Cares staff and board of directors, along with the team from St. David’s Foundation, shared information on the various coalitions and resources available in Bastrop County, helping to connect the dots for community leaders looking to share assets as we work together to build a stronger, unified community. Churches continue to serve as trusted hubs in the community, and as we move forward, we should remember the assets and connections made at this community conversation.
Each community has a vision, but in working together, relying on each other and sharing our superpowers we can foster a shared vision to strengthen our community. As Abena Asante, Senior Program Officer at St. David’s Foundation said, “Stories connect people. When we connect, we unify. When we unify, we take action.” St. David’s Foundation is committed to joining forces with the superheroes in Bastrop County to make a lasting impact.