The Randolph Renaissance

One of the great things, among many, about Richmond is the diversity of its neighborhoods. From the colorful row houses of Oregon Hill and the cobblestone streets of Church Hill to the meandering roads and scenic views of Westover Hills, there’s always something to be discovered. Perhaps what stands out most about these neighborhoods is the sense of community and pride you find. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Randolph neighborhood, a thriving, yet unassuming urban residential area just south of the Downtown expressway. Home to many blue-collar families, the Randolph neighborhood has experienced many of the problems of urban poverty and disinvestment typical of urban cities. Though, in more recent years, through the development of mixed-income housing, an active neighborhood association, and an influx of new home-owners, the community has experienced a sort of slow renaissance. One of the bright spots of the neighborhood is the Randolph Community Center, a large public building with a full gymnasium, fitness center, classroom space, and computer lab. The property also includes tennis courts, basketball courts, and public pool. The center is a sort of beacon within the neighborhood, a gathering place for conversation, activity, and play. But, like any public property, the center is in need of constant upkeep. Which is why last Saturday, a group of folks from City Church, banded together with a team of other local volunteers to help the Randolph Community Center continue to shine its light.

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We mulched the garden beds lining the periphery of the building. We scrubbed and painted a rusty exterior wall of the pool. We cleaned up the playground and swept the surrounding area. Seemingly small tasks by any measure, but, in just four short hours, the Randolph Center experienced a renaissance of its own. It looked refreshed, felt more inviting, seemed more alive. By the time the team finished up the last of the mulching and picked up the near-empty paint cans, there were already a group of kids splashing in the pool and a pair of teens ready to shoot some hoops. Reminders of all that this place represents: life, community, relationships.

So, this summer, if you’re looking for another neighborhood to explore, check out Randolph. Take a swim in the pool, meet a new friend, and be a part of the positive change taking place in a great neighborhood just a few block's south from where we worship.

(To see more photos from the July 20th Day of Service, check out this set on our Flickr.)