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Welcome to the Treat House

Mission | June 15, 2017

It’s pretty quiet at the Treat House on this Friday afternoon. It’s about 2:20 p.m., and Ann Schwickerath is sitting in the living room chatting with visitors. There’s a knock on the door – the sign that the quiet is about to come to an energetic end.

“Hi! My name is Alejandro,” the first kiddo in the door says as he shakes the hand of one of the visitors. He is followed by a couple of others, then a few minutes later, a couple of others, and then a few more – until about 30 kids fill the house at 5th and Warren streets in Davenport. “How was your day?” Ann asks one of the kids in the afterschool and summer program she’s led with Carl Callaway, for nearly 25 years. “Stars all week!” she exclaims while checking a school planner. “Howdy, pal!” Ann says to yet another as he comes inside, sheds his coat, and sets down his backpack.

The kids counter with questions like “Can I go do homework?” and “Can I get a treat?” The organization is officially called Project Renewal, but everyone knows it as the Treat House. There’s no sign outside of the two houses and park that make up the campus – because no sign is needed. Ann and Carl live in one of the houses. The free-of-charge program is centered in the other house, with a computer lab, study space, shelves of games, and a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator. With about 50 kids on the roster at any given time, the afterschool program runs from 2:30-5:30 p.m. and the summer program at Sister Concetta Park from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“We’re a family here,” says Ann. “We watch out for each other. We help each other out.”

The St. Paul Mission Board recently approved $2,000 in support for Project Renewal.

Sister Concetta Bendicente came to Davenport from Chicago to serve from her order, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. She moved in to the neighborhood just west of downtown Davenport, near St. Mary’s Church. Sister Concetta often spent time walking through the area. One day, she encountered a group of kids along Fifth Street. They were crying and scared – their grandfather was having a seizure and they thought he was dying.

Sister Concetta set her sights on a condemned house at Fifth and Warren streets. She led the effort to fix it up, and to be a positive presence in the neighborhood, caring for the elderly, homeless, and children. This was in the mid-1970s, when social service agencies were few and far between. Over time, the focus shifted to children. They turned the empty lot across the street into a park.

The name changed to Project Renewal. The once-condemned house is where Ann and Carl live. The park is Sister Concetta Park. And more recently, the organization purchased an empty house next door to expand its program.

The goal? Educating, building self-esteem, and affirming each child for his or her individual worth. Time there focuses on non-violent conflict resolution skills, interpersonal relationships, constructive use of time, and appropriate social behaviors. It’s why kids knock on the door and wait to hear “Come in!” before they come in. It’s why they introduce themselves to visitors. It’s why they ask to do homework. It’s why they ask for a treat. It’s why, when they talk with Ann, Carl, or any one of the volunteers, their faces light up with big smiles.

Volunteers are an important part of Project Renewal. Regulars, like Amy and Dixie, huddle in small groups in the upstairs loft to listen to kids read aloud, or help as they finish their math homework for the day.

Project Renewal also serves as a learning place for people interested in working in under-resourced communities. For example, a partnership with Notre Dame brings students to Fifth and Warren streets every year. Youthworks groups that stay in the lower level of St. Paul during the summer go to work at Project Renewal, too. This summer, kids in the Treat House summer program will take swimming lessons, be a part of a weekly Thursday night cookout, volunteer for the Bix at Six practice runs, and participate in city park & rec programs.

With the house filled with chatter, games, homework, and computer time now, Ann and Carl say goodbye to their visitors. It’s a bright and sunny day, and the kids are about to head out to play at the park. “Some of our families are overcoming past or present obstacles or abuses,” Ann said. “We’re hoping to set them up to succeed, to make good decisions, to make good choices.” But most importantly, Ann said, “We’re just a neighbor.”

 

MEET A TREAT HOUSE GRADUATE: Janee Jackson 

As a Treat House kid all grown up, Project Renewal has a very special place in my heart. My family and I lived on West 6th Street across from Sister Concetta Park. During the summers, my five brothers and sisters and I would play at the park and go on field trips with the summer staff. During the school year, we went to the “Treat House” to get homework help and play games.

I loved being around Director Ann Schwickerath and Assistant Director Carl Callaway because my home was not safe.

At age 10, I was sexually abused repeatedly by my mother’s live-in boyfriend.

At 15, I thought I was pregnant and I turned to Ann and Carl for help. They became my saviors and notified the authorities.

Throughout the years, Ann and Carl have provided me with unconditional love and support in every part of my life. They’ve counseled me through the court trial for my mother’s live-in boyfriend at 17, shared my successes in speech and debate competitions, and watched me graduate from high school, college, and graduate school. They’ve taught me to be a positive presence for others – and I now work as a children’s librarian for Des Moines Public Library. My fiancé and I are getting married later this year.

For more than 40 years, Project Renewal has positively strengthened the lives of children and families. I’m so proud of their accomplishments. I’ll always be proud to be a Treat House kid.

2 Comments on “Welcome to the Treat House”

  • Elena Boult

    June 15, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    Carl and Ann were our next door neighbors when we lived in Davenport. My family and I actually used to live in the house next to where they live and is now part of their Project Renewal program!! A couple times when we were young, Ann and Carl brought my two sisters and I Christmas gifts and a Turkey for Thanksgiving Day. This meant so much to us, as my parents didn’t have much money to buy the three of us girls many gifts. I will forever be grateful for them. Carl and Ann were one of the first people since we came from Mexico to the U.S. that made us feel welcome and showed us that good people do exist. From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you, Ann and Carl! Just know that your acts of kindness are never forgotten. I’m now in my early 30s and still treasure these memories.

  • Marcia Jensen

    June 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I was part of the Project Renewal Community between 1975 and 1981. I lived part of that time in St. Joseph’s Convent with other young women who were newly graduated from College and working in the neighborhood. I worked at the neighborhood Catholic School, but also helped to renovate one of the houses rehabbed by the community (Poustinia). It is great to know that Marv and Concetta’s work goes on. Anne is a trooper. Don’t know anyone who lived and worked there for that length of time.

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,

16“THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM

AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:

I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART,

AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,”

He then says,

17“AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS

I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”

18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”