Renegade began in the summer of 2008 as a small Bible study for students attending a middle school adjacent to Dwell’s 4th Street Pavilion. Our earliest meetings featured a short teaching and a fun activity.
During the late summer and fall of 2008 volunteers slowly won the trust of students and our group began to grow. On a bitterly cold night in the winter of 2008-2009, a Renegade volunteer knocked on the front door of a student’s home to take her to a meeting. A 12-year-old opened the door and invited the volunteer inside. Standing in the living room, the volunteer noticed that everyone in the family was bundled up. She could see their breath in the cold air. In the kitchen, an infant was being kept warm by the open door of an electric oven. The child’s mother explained that the gas had been turned off the prior week. Until that night, none of our volunteers fully appreciated the challenges that our low-income students and families face. Sobered by this experience, we began to take a closer look into the day to day challenges these families face. We found that most students were being raised in single parent homes in neighborhoods racked with violence, crime, sexual promiscuity, and abuse. They also encountered issues associated with poverty, including poor diets, limited access to health care, and failing schools.
Over the next few years, a variety of initiatives were launched to enhance our work with students including providing meals, tutoring, summer enrichment camps, weekly Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring, and life coaching. Students came in greater numbers and brought younger and older siblings.
Soon, scores of new students got involved in Renegade, included dozens of middle school and high school students. Since that time, we re-organized and moved the middle and high school students into the Dwell programs for those age groups.
Today, Renegade serves pre-school through 5th grade students. They enjoy exciting Bible studies, lots of fun games, and lunch together.