EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A non-profit in the Metro East is helping hundreds of young people reach their full potential.

R3 Development says its mission is not about giving handouts, but hand ups.

“When you step into their lives and you look them in the eye and you hear their story and you hear their journey and you see people,” said Dave Kuntz, executive director. “You see humanity you see kids in a community that longs for resources that it never had.”

The group uses the trades of construction to mend minds and partnerships with several local churches and organizations.

When News 4 caught up with the group, they were working on a beautification project through the Department of Justice in East St. Louis.

R3 partners with East St. Louis schools giving teens 14-to-18 years old job opportunities and a lot more.

“They taught me to be a leader basically,” said 16-year-old JaBryan Grisson, “I love doing this. Like, I love working with my hands and we do many different things like working in houses and stuff and that’s what I like to do.”

R3 had been operating for about six years when it saw the need to bring resources to East St. Louis, a community Kuntz said is often abandoned.

“This community is not the way it’s often portrayed. It’s beautiful,” said Kuntz. “Easy to internalize the brokenness around you. So, when you see broken buildings, dilapidation, you can just internalize that and you begin to internalize that identity.”

The mission is to empower young people through resources and skills building a finer future.

“It feels like we’re restoring life back in this community,” said high schooler Jada Washington. “This wasn’t a place to come to where it’s like work, work, work, concentrate. It’s actually a learning curb, like, it’s a family here and enjoyable just being here.”

By renewing neighborhoods in East St. Louis, Kuntz told News 4 the young adults are actually mending their own minds and sharpening success.

“When you step into their lives and you look them in the eye and you hear their story and you hear their journey and you see people,” said Kuntz. “You see humanity, you see kids in a community that longs for resources that it never had. It is easy to internalize the brokenness around you. So, when you see broken buildings dilapidation, you can just internalize that and you begin to internalize that identity.”

To learn more about R3 Development, click here.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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