Antwan Pope of Wellston Loop CDC Empowers Residents and Brightens Streets in the 22nd Ward
On any given Tuesday morning, you can find Antwan Pope of Wellston Loop CDC working to open his doors at 1514 Hodiamont Avenue to offer free breakfast and health services to community members. Pope is a passionate community development professional who works tirelessly to serve his community of the 22nd Ward. As a native of the ward, he understands the unique needs of the community and networks with individuals and other professional community developers to increase access for his neighborhood. His most recent endeavor involves partnering with Better Family Life and disseminating information about a sponsored program, “Operation Ground Zero,” to reduce rates of crime and drug use across neighborhoods.
Pope partners on Hodiamont Avenue with Don Devivo of Devivo Realty. Together, they offer health services like HIV and Hepatitis C testing and provide the community with a space where they can convene and gather important information about upcoming events. Pope works with community partners like The Salvation Army, Job Corps, and Harris-Stowe students. Pope welcomes any and all community development professionals to gather in this space and meet the community he works with.
When asked about the biggest need facing the 22nd Ward, Pope responded that there is a great need for additional community spaces. He expressed a desire to see a community-wide farmer’s market or standalone coffee shop so that residents have better access to healthy foods. Pope would also like to introduce a home renovation program that brings together different interest groups, including residents and developers, to improve infrastructure in the area.
Pope has been building his skills in grassroots community organizing since before he began working with Wellston Loop CDC. In 2013, he led an initiative called Journey Continue to engage neighborhood youth after school and help them with their academics. Pope has enjoyed a strong relationship with James Clark at Better Family Life since 2003 and has collaborated with them on their community outreach work to end violence in the area. Pope also spearheads an initiative called Community Reconnect, where he meets individuals at 10:00 am each Saturday to do block clean-ups of the 22nd Ward. His goal is to clean up, monitor, and promote safety from where Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and Hodiamont Avenue meet all the way to Page Boulevard.
Pope joined the Community Builders Network to increase his capacity to serve his community of the 22nd Ward. He invites other developers in the St. Louis metro area to reach out to him if they have any interest in partnering or collaborating. “I can’t tell you where I’m from,” Pope said, “but I can show you were I work.”
Below are some photos of Pope’s shared office space in the community.
Written by Brendan East, CBN Practicum Student