By Barb Arland-Fye
After school at the “Treat House” in one of Davenport’s lower-income neighborhoods, Ann Schwickerath unzips children’s backpacks, pulls out their assignment books and checks to see what homework needs completing. A couple of young girls lean against the chair Schwickerath sits in, eager for her attention. In an adjoining room filled with cubicles and computers, Carl Callaway assists one student while others concentrate on homework displayed on their own computer screens. Kids from within an eight- or nine-block radius arrive at the Treat House each afternoon to receive a delicious treat and then do homework, with assistance as needed, followed by recreational activities.
This is home away from home, a second family, for these neighborhood children. Project Renewal, which operates the Treat House, has existed since 1974 to serve the neighborhood. Its emphasis, though, is on children and providing them with a stabilizing influence in their lives. Volunteers ranging in age from junior high though college and beyond assist Schwickerath, the director, and her assistant, Callaway, in nurturing some 40 children on a daily basis. The Treat House is open year-round, and provides mentoring and recreational activities in the summer as well.
Funding for Project Renewal comes from direct appeals, private donations, businesses, families, small grant awards and the annual “Run for Renewal,” a recreational event that promotes the neighborhood and encourages healthy activities for kids and adults. “We really need to increase our funding base and this is one way to do that,” Schwickerath said.
This year’s Run for Renewal will be held Saturday, April 21. A 1/2-mile kid’s Treat House Trot starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K run/walk starts at 9 a.m. at Sr. Concetta Park, located at the intersection of Sixth and Warren streets. In addition to awards for age and gender categories, Run for Renewal offers a traveling trophy for a church who has the most members participating and for the fastest member of a church. The fastest Davenport Police Department member also receives a traveling trophy.
“The idea is to bring people here for a positive event in the neighborhood, to provide role models for our children and their families and to promote a healthy lifestyle while supporting a worthwhile program,” Schwickerath said.
A new component of Run for Renewal is its designation as part of a race circuit launched by Michelle Russell’s “Live Uncommon” project. Russell’s interaction with the Treat House kids inspired her to designate Run for Renewal as the second of seven road races in the Revolution Series. Runners affiliated with Live Uncommon will raise money for each of the organizations connected to an event on the race circuit. Funds raised will be distributed among the seven organizations.
“We think we can make a significant impact for (Project Renewal) in just one day’s event,” said Russell, who became acquainted with the Treat House kids after observing them hand out cups of water to runners at the Bix at Six last summer in Davenport. She’d recognized a couple of the kids from previous activities as well. “I found out Project Renewal was behind them and a catalyst in helping them to stay on the right path,” Russell said. Then she spent an afternoon volunteering at the Treat House. “I can’t explain how impressed I am by what they do … I called my mom and my daughter afterwards and said, ‘You really need to come down here; it’s life-altering.’”
Russell said Live Uncommon strives to inspire disadvantaged youths. It does so by introducing them to the world of sports and the value of teamwork during their formative years so that they’ll be prepared to hit the ground running, on an even playing field. That dovetails with Project Renewal’s mission.
Schwickerath is grateful for the support, which reinforces for the children the value of helping others. “I share with them, ‘that’s how the Treat House exists. We have a lot of caring people who keep us going. That helps the kids to realize they need to give back as well.”
What: Run for Renewal
When: April 21 – 8:30 a.m., 1-/2-mile kids’ Treat House Trot; 9 a.m. 5K run/walk; packet pick-up, April 20, 5-7 p.m. and April 21, 7:30-8:30 a.m. at 510 Warren St., Davenport
Where: Sr. Concetta Park, intersection of Sixth and Warren streets, Davenport
Cost: $20, T-shirt guaranteed. Treat House Trot runners will receive a T-shirt
Traveling trophy: Church with most participants, fastest church member and fastest member of the Davenport Police Department
Gold Coast Award: First female and male to reach the top of the “Ripley Rise.”
Other awards: Medals will be awarded for various age and gender categories, and door prizes will be given.
Refreshments: Provided after the race.
Information: Project Renewal, (563) 324-0800 or check online at www.projectrenewal.net