“The way the world builds trusting and enduring relationships is primarily around a table,” said Rebecca J. Hatter, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters St. Louis. Creating those relationships – the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters – is why they recently opened Anew, a new event space and test kitchen above its headquarters at 519 North Grand Blvd. in Grand Center.
“The name came from a couple places,” said Hatter. “First of all, the building faces the east, so when the sun comes up in the morning, your day is anew.” Indeed, the patio – no roof or tenting options, event planners – offers a stellar eastern view of Midtown to Downtown.
“Anew” also evokes the way the building has evolved over the years.
“It used to be a building that was a Woolworth’s that had segregated lunch counters, in the ‘50s, and everyone is now welcome at the table where they were not welcome at the counter,” Hatter said.
“We believe that when you sit down and build relationships over food and at the table, your relationships are anew.”
Anew sits on the fourth floor of the current BBBS building on Grand. On the first floor, a private entry takes you to the rooftop and allows access to a test kitchen and another dining space.
The space plays two roles: an event area, and a test kitchen. Originally, the building had three floors – the fourth floor was constructed on top of it.
Hatter hopes that the space will aid in the relationship-building that is fundamental to BBBS, by helping recruit new Big Brothers and Big Sisters for the organization, and by helping community members come together over a table and connect with each other.
Mentor recruitment is urgent, Hatter said – there are never as many Big Brothers and Big Sisters signed up as hopeful Little siblings on the waiting list to match with them.
“Every day we have a thousand kids waiting for a Big Brother or a Big Sister,” said Hatter. “If we make 50 matches this month, another 50 kids will come on.”
So, with events held at Anew, the organization can recruit more mentors – adults from around St. Louis with four hours a month to spare to be an older sibling for a kid who needs one.
“I mean, there’s really no reason why St. Louis can’t show up with a thousand new people,” she said. “I mean, we have all these young people in this community. We have retirees. Everyone can be a Big, and we have a thousand kids waiting.”
Aside from recruitment events, Anew will be used to say “thank you” to the 1,700 active Bigs currently involved in the organization. It will hold thanksgiving dinners for Big and Little siblings to share, and celebrations for Little siblings who experience important life milestones. It will also be open to the entire St. Louis community. The space will be able to host everything from corporate events, to yoga classes, to family celebrations.
Originally, Anew was going to be utilized only by BBBS-affiliated events, but then, Hatter said, “We realized this is such a fabulous space with so many unique opportunities, we should make it available to the community to use!” All of the rent from these community events will go to BBBS.
Another way Anew is interconnected with the community is through its test kitchen, which will employ various St. Louis area chefs. “St. Louis is a foodie place,” said Hatter. Those chefs will be able to use the opportunity to test new concepts, and BBBS hopes to use the space for cooking classes for kids, as well.
“We really believe in this idea that we can come together. We have to come together,” said Hatter.
She sees Anew as a way to create a more interconnected community through the kind of bonding that can only happen around a table.
“If St. Louis is going to be a better place to grow up as a kid, we’re going to have to introduce more people to young people so that they have more opportunities,” she said. “So Anew is really a promise to the community, of hope, of opportunity. That we really, as a community, can come together.”
For more information, call 314-615-1047 or visit http://meetanew.com.