Over 20 years ago Rev. Drew Kramer started thinking about how he could give back to his community and stay active in retirement. He led the First United Presbyterian Church in Belleville for 19 years and had done many mission trips to Montana and Michigan during his tenure to build and restore churches.
Seeing the opportunity in his own community, Rev. Kramer used start-up money from the Major Mission Fund, a fundraising campaign that encouraged congregations to use a portion of their raised funds locally, to buy a Belleville house in need of renovation. He knew there was a need for more home ownership in his home town of Belleville but he also knew many low-income families could not afford to buy a home so they were renting.
The next step was recruiting his construction team. He reached out to many skilled and unskilled members of the community and his congregation to secure a group of volunteers interested in rehabbing the house. As word spread and the team continued rehabbing more houses, local companies began to volunteer their services and even materials.
The group realized they enjoyed working together and were inspired by the good they were doing in the community so they decided to keep going. They created a board, filed some paperwork as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) and became incorporated in 1998. Neighbors for Renewal was born.