2011 Spring Newsletter
Personnel Changes @ Cornerstone #1: Farewell, Matt!
We at Cornerstone Corporation feel a mixture of regret and excitement in announcing that our former Managing Director, Matthew Kimbrell, has retired from this position after seven years of dedicated, diligent, and effective service in this capacity. Matt would be the first to tell you that the job stretched him, challenged him, and encouraged him, as he learned first-hand to share the vicissitudes of life experienced by our tenants.
It is no exaggeration to say that Matt did everything in this job from hard manual labor to negotiating the niceties of city rules and regulations to investing himself in the lives of our tenants–striving, in all these things and more, to imitate Christ. In recognition of the many tools from his own workbench that Matt “donated” to the cause over the years, the Board gratefully presented him with a gift certificate to the Home Depot.
As for our excitement, we are thrilled that Matt has begun to realize his long-standing dream of becoming a teacher by taking a position as adjunct faculty in the English Department of UMSL. We know that he will bring the excellence, grace, hard work, and good humor that he lavished upon Cornerstone’s work to the professional challenges before him–and we wish him Godspeed, along with our best thanks.
Our latest acquisition: 5936-38 Etzel Avenue
We are thrilled to report the purchase of this property in the heart of the Etzel neighborhood, where we already maintain numerous properties. The price was right: we purchased it from the city for less than $4,000 at a tax-auction. We were therefore able to direct funds, already donated for future projects, toward pressing stabilization needs; as this Newsletter goes to press, tuckpointing should be completed and a new roof imminent.
However, there’s more work to be done, which means that we are looking to the Lord’s help as we seek to raise an additional $60,000-$75,000, our estimate of the funding needed to realize our plans for rehabilitating the interior.
Our building plans–that’s where the fresh vision comes in! In the rehabilitation and use of 5936-38 Etzel, Cornerstone feels led to form a partnership with a nearby congregation, Grace and Peace Fellowship, a community of worshippers that has been closely allied with the Corporation from its inception in 1976. More specifically, our vision is to work with the Grace and Peace Winter Women’s Shelter. Those involved with the Shelter have long perceived a need for affordable, smaller units–a need that dovetails perfectly with Cornerstone’s purpose.
The new property has two floors. The top floor will receive mostly cosmetic changes and remain a three-bedroom, one-family unit. We intend to reconfigure the first floor quite dramatically, with the result that it will accommodate two modest but liveable studio units, each suitable for a single resident or a very small family; these are the units that we would like to see made available particularly to women whom the Grace and Peace Shelter identfies as having a pressing need for housing. We also hope that, by accommodating both singles and a family in one building, we can nurture community bonds both within one building and the broader neighborhood.
Pursuant to this vision, Cornerstone has already secured detailed plans for the first-floor renovation (see below). The Corporation’s standing Building Committee has been meeting monthly to think through our plans and deliberate over implementation of our plans. With the aforementioned stabilization needs met, we can concentrate on the next major step: raising the funds we need to see the renovation through. We shall look to God for these monetary needs, as for all others; we shall also make every effort to integrate work-groups from congregations in the rehabilitation work. Please join us in praying for the Lord’s guidance in every phase of this project; we trust that, with his help, we may indeed earn the title of “Repairer of broken walls, and Restorer of houses in ruins.”
Personnel Changes @ Cornerstone #2: Welcome aboard, Josh!
Last fall Cornerstone hired Josh Dodson to be our new Managing Director, to fill the vacancy caused by Matt Kimbrell’s departure. We are delighted to welcome him to the Corporation, and we feel sure that his skill-sets and desire to serve the Lord will enable him to move the ministry forward. As he settles into the position, we thought that a little question-and-answer session might help introduce him to you…
Tell us a little about yourself.
I spent the majority of my formative years in Stillwater, Oklahoma. My wife Caylee and I have lived in St. Louis for 2.5 years and have just welcomed our first child into the world! Though we are both still learning the complexities of the city, we are proud to call St. Louis home.
What attracted you to the Cornerstone Ministry?
A combination of things drew me to Cornerstone. As I have started to better understand the fullness of the Gospel, I have begun to see that Scripture is the continual story of God’s commitment to bringing healing and restoration into the world and to his people. This reality not only changed the way that the Gospel spoke into the brokenness of my own life , but also freed me to see Him at work in the brokenness of the world around me.
Cornerstone was appealing to me because it seemed to be an outwardly focused extension of the restorative love of God through the provision of the physical need of affordable housing and the restoration of buildings and communities, in community.
What sorts of things that you have been learning excite you? And in what ways have you already seen, in the early going, God’s grace evident in what we do?
We serve a God who is actively working to bring healing and restoration and who uses His people to accomplish these things. It has been encouraging to see teams, supporters, and the wider community give their time and energy to make Cornerstone’s vision possible. I not only feel privileged to be here, but excited to know that He has been faithful to many who have come before me and that He will continue to lead.
What kind of vision is taking root in your mind regarding Cornerstone’s future ministry?
I am thankful to have a team of people to work with who know and help me to understand Cornerstone’s vision more clearly. One thing that I would love to work toward as a team and ministry is facilitating a greater sense of community amongst tenants and apartment buildings. I would love to see Cornerstone continue to grow and restore abandoned buildings in order to provide affordable housing and bring renewal into our neighborhood. I’m excited to see where the Lord leads, and my prayer is that our vision would always be His.
Dear reader, if you can make a tax-deductible donation toward our new project, please make a check payable to Cornerstone Corporation and mail it to Cornerstone at 6030 Etzel Ave., St. Louis, MO 63112.