By Laura Ramos, Community Engagement Associate

 Saint Rest Baptist Church has maintained a footprint in the Fresno community for the last 75 years. They have become one of the largest and most recognized congregations serving Southwest Fresno families. The southwest neighborhood has been an area in Fresno that lacks many opportunities for its residents to thrive. Saints Rest Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), an extension of the Church, was established out of those needs to better serve and improve the wellbeing of those living in Southwest Fresno.

Southwest Fresno has experienced the highest poverty rates, high health issues among residents, and other external environmental factors, according to public review draft by the City of Fresno. 34% of adults and 54% of children in Southwest Fresno are living in poverty, which is more than twice the state average (1). Regarding health risks, adults show increased rates of diabetes and asthma (2). Data shows children living in the area experience worse health issues than others in Fresno (3). By working as the community voice and creating community spaces St. Rest CEDC is working to reserve decades of disinvestment in the neighborhood.

“It’s time to reinvest in southwest.” – Cherella Nicholson, Executive Director of St. Rest Community EDC

Saint Rest CEDC has ignited a movement to revitalize the southwest community. Since the inception, St. Rest CEDC opened St. Rest Plaza on Elm, serving as a space where the community can enjoy a farmer’s market every second Friday of the month from 9 am- 12 pm. Most recently, St. Rest CEDC broke ground on a new youth center and park with plans to be up and running this October.

Central Valley Community Foundation is proud to have St. Rest CEDC as part of the Communities Organized for Resident Engagement (CORE), an initiative made possible with funding from The James Irvine Foundation. Each CORE member organization is featured in “This Day Fresno,” a series of micro-documentaries following eight nonprofits in Fresno, California and the work they are doing to improve their respective neighborhoods. Visit ThisDayFresno.org for more information and to view the other CORE grantees.