Oral History

David Caldwell, Jr. - On RENA (clip)

Interviewed by Darius Scott on September 23, 2014

David Caldwell, Jr. (DC): Right now I m the project director and the community organizer. And what I do is special projects that come up, I pretty much organize and get them going and get the community organized into participating. We do a Backpack Back-to-School Bash, where we give our goal is always five hundred backpacks every year to underprivileged kids. At our center, the new center that will be opening, but at our old center we were feeding fifty families twice a month on food we co-partnered with PORCH. We had English and Spanish classes.

We had a summer enrichment camp, where the first year we had fifteen kids. The second year we had twenty-five. This year we had to do it at the church, and we had room for twenty- five, but ended up taking forty. And we pride ourselves on the fact that they come in we have a teacher in our education program, a retired teacher of thirty-plus years, who comes in and helps administer placement tests and that type deal, like the school system does. And our first two years, every one of our kids came in below where they should be. At the end of the six weeks, when they took the test again, every one of them improved. Some went did catch up to where they should be. Not all surpassed, but we had a hundred percent improvement rate, which we were very proud of.

We got the parents involved, which is a big thing. We had the students from UNC that came in. We had a soccer team. And all these things will be coming back in the next few weeks once our new building is done and we move into it, so we re really looking forward to that.

Other than that, and traveling around and talking to other communities and things about what they re doing and how it s going, contracting out UNC has a Health, Motion and Disease Prevention Program that I’ve worked with, and we travel around with community experts around the country. They partner with Vanderbilt, I think, doing that thing, getting back involved with them. I m on the board of directors for the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, where we do the same thing, bringing in, helping people organize, those type deals. So, there’s no time down. We do a tutoring program. Right now, we have capacity, again, like I said, for twenty-five kids. The new building will have a capacity for about seventy-five.

Darius Scott (DS): Oh, wow. And when was this organization established?

DC: RENA was established in the [19]74, [19]75. We’ve been around for about that long.

DS: Okay. And was it in response at all to the landfill?

DC: No, it was a need. We saw a need that our kids needed help. It s like our Back-to- School Bash. Our first Bash was the kids got we gave out eight brown paper bags. It had a pack of notebook paper, a pencil, an ink pen, and an eraser.

DS: Okay.

DC: And that was to get them started. Now, they get backpacks, computers, tablets, composition books, notebook paper, rulers, pencil holders, any stuff to get them started. So, they feel like, Okay, well, I’ve got the playing field is a little bit level now. I ve got the equipment. Now, it s all on me to make it work. So, that s how much we’ve grown, from eight to five hundred. Last year, we did five hundred and sixty. So, this year, we did about four hundred forty, somewhere in that neighborhood. So, it s a good thing. The kids and the parents appreciate it.

David Caldwell, Jr. - On RENA (clip)

Clip_Caldwell, Jr., David (SOHP_0084)_06_QR.jpg

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Oral history interview of Caldwell, Jr., David conducted by Scott, Darius on September 23, 2014 at Chapel Hill, NC.

Citation: Southern Oral History Program, “David Caldwell, Jr. - On RENA (clip),” From the Rock Wall, accessed June 13, 2024, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/david-caldwell-jr-on-rena-clip.

Rights: Open for research. The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) welcomes non-commercial use and access that qualifies as fair use to all unrestricted interview materials in the collection. The researcher must cite and give proper credit to the SOHP. The SOHP requests that the researcher informs the SOHP as to how and where they are using the material.

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