Drew Lewis Foundation

Theresa Bettmann KSMU

This week, host Linda Regan speaks with Amy Blansit, faculty at Missouri State University and Chair of the Drew Lewis Foundation at the Fairbanks.

Today’s discussion explores adaptations during this year of COVID changes, while continuing to be a vital resource for community. Blansit talks about ongoing need for support, and how community can still be involved in programing and resources.    

Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

Ginger Ramirez was going through tough times, a few years ago. The 33 year old and her children live in Northwest Springfield, Zone 1, which has the city’s highest rate of poverty: “Oh absolutely, there was no hope.  I felt like I was deteriorating, that I was falling apart, and my whole world was crashing. I wasn’t able to work anymore because of child care expenses.  I was living off donating plasma every week, making $70.00 a week.  That was my income to raise children and make a living.”

The Drew Lewis Foundation was formed in the memory of Amy Blansit’s late husband. Before his passing, Blansit and Lewis had purchased a property – the Fairbanks. It now houses programming offered by the Drew Lewis Foundation, standing as a beacon to help connect the impoverished surrounding neighborhood with the resources and education to make the residents more self-sufficient and to get them out of poverty.

Scott Harvey / KSMU

A former school gymnasium in north Springfield, once in danger of being torn down due to its blighted state, is now a point of pride for the Drew Lewis Foundation and owner Amy Blansit.

Dubbed the “cafa-gym-a-torium” by past inhabitants, this refurbished Fairbanks Elementary School gym is part of the second phase in the quest to turn this former education facility into a community resource center.

Blansit, Foundation board members and roughly 100 citizens joined to view a ribbon cutting Wednesday to highlight the construction progress.

Theresa Bettmann / KSMU

Neighbors from the surrounding Grant Beach neighborhood begin congregating inside the warm and festively decorated annex of the Fairbanks for a weekly community dinner.  What was once an elementary school, closed in 2007, continues to be restored in phases to a neighborhood hub.  Its mission is to connect families with needed services through the efforts of the Drew Lewis Foundation and its many partners. 

“We always come around to share food first—so it always begins with a dinner,” Blansit says.

The Fairbanks: Road to Restoration Enters Second Phase

Jun 25, 2015
Theresa Bettmann KSMU

Progress continues on renovations to the former Fairbanks elementary school in Springfield’s Grant Beach Neighborhood.

“We are beginning phase two which includes the auditorium, the teaching kitchen, and the two classrooms,” said Christina Wiksell, director of Community Outreach for the Drew Lewis Foundation.

Theresa Bettmann / KSMU

Fueled by similar projects in cities like Detroit and Chicago, a Springfield organization is striving to create a central neighborhood resource out of an abandoned school building. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann tells us how it impacts the neighborhood and what’s in store for Saturday’s awareness event.