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 an 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 hometown of Belleville but he also realized many low-income families could not afford to buy a home and were forced to continue renting.
Rev. Kramer believed he could do something about this issue so he started recruiting a construction team. He reached out to skilled and unskilled members of the community and his congregation to secure a group of volunteers interested in donating their time to rehab the house for a deserving local family. The construction crew got to work and when the first house was done it was unanimously decided to continue with another. Word spread about Drew and the rehab projects and as they worked on more houses local companies took notice and began to volunteer their services and donate materials.
The group realized they were on to something. 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.