On one recent Monday morning, it was really quite quiet outside the two-story brick building on the corner of 15th and Ripley streets in Davenport. The sun shone down. The birds chirped. The hostas and milkweed planted outside rustled in the breeze.
And then the front door of Hope at the BRICK House opened wide. A cacophony of laughter, singing, and playing tumbled out into the humid summer air.
Twenty-eight kids are spending their summer days at this one of two sites of Hope at the BRICK House. Joyce Klopp wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s the director of this organization. She and her husband, Cal Klopp, also live in the building – a constant presence in the neighborhood.
“We pray every morning for the opportunities of today,” Joyce said while kids played outside on the playground.
This building wasn’t always such a joyful place. Up until about 25 years ago, it was a bar with a bad reputation. A Quad-City Times headline from March 1989, for example, proclaimed: Woman pulls gun on bartender. The incident happened at the Brick House. The windows were painted black. Spilt beer so saturated the carpeting that deep cleaning didn’t completely eliminate the smell.
After the bar shut down, a group of people decided to reclaim the building. Joyce started as an assistant, and planned to stay just a little while. Twenty-five years later, she’s still very much there.
The organization has a summer and an after school program. They recently expanded their summer program to a site at First Christian Church for older kids. They take field trips and read and finish homework. They sing, dance, and make art. During the summer, every child gets breakfast and lunch each day. During the school year, supper is served to all.
Hope at the BRICK House also hosts a neighborhood party every Friday evening. Monthly neighborhood meetings provide a time for neighbors, police, and elected officials to talk with each other about the joys and challenges experienced in the neighborhood. The program also offers help for families seeking resources, such as housing, health care, child care, work, and budgeting.
Sgt. Andrew Harris, a St. Paul member who is part of community policing efforts in Davenport, is often there on Friday nights and for the monthly neighborhood meeting.
“It is the only neighborhood in Davenport that I know of that has a gathering every single Friday,” Andrew said. “It gives people a chance to sit down with neighbors and discuss how their work week or school week went. We play games and let the kids know that we really care about their journey. Those relationships would not happen if Hope at the BRICK House wasn’t there.”
Andrew has been on the NETS unit with Davenport police for about three years. NETS stands for Neighborhood Energized to Succeed. It’s been about eight years that he and others have connected with the work at Hope at the BRICK House.
“It’s so special what they do with the kids,” he said. “I can’t say enough about Joyce and Cal. You walk in there and you know that the kids in that neighborhood have a safe place to go to during the summer and after school. They have tutors to help them with homework, to get a healthy snack and have a meal. And they learn about the Christian faith.”
Joyce and Cal have lived at Hope at the BRICK House for eight years. “We wanted to be close to the kids. We wanted to be a part of life in this neighborhood.”
The organization is mostly volunteer dependent. Kids are cared for and work projects tackled with a dedicated crew of dozens of volunteers. A variety of churches (including St. Paul) support its efforts financially.
“We couldn’t do what we do without all of our partnerships,” Joyce said. “We are really grateful.”
Every day is different at the brick house on the corner. Crises come along, as do new families. But the steady presence remains. Kids come to be loved.
“Our desire is that this is a place of light and hope, no matter a family’s circumstance,” she said.
Hope at the BRICK House is located at 1431 Ripley Street, Davenport. Learn more at hopeatthebrickhouse.org, or 563-322-0382. Volunteer needs include van drivers and suppers for kids during the school year.
Women of St. Paul fall gathering slated for Aug. 25
The annual fall gathering for women of St. Paul will be Saturday, August 25, 9-11:30 a.m. Joyce Klopp, director of Hope at the BRICK House, will be the featured speaker. School supplies, meal serving items (napkins, compartment plates, plasticware), and snacks (fruit juice, goldfish crackers, cookies) will be gathered for the program. Refreshments will be served, and women will have the opportunity to learn about St. Paul ministries.
Sign up at stpaulqc.org/signups or at the Information Center. Childcare will be available upon request. Contact: Janice Melvin, 563-332-3665, or Carol Moeller, 563-391-3790.