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Gloves with Love Goes Rural
IBC - Gloves with Love San Pierre story – Scott Fields – 8/17/11

When brothers Louis and Koreon Grier heard they were traveling to the small town of San Pierre, Indiana to do community service work, they pictured a community that looked just like Toledo.

“I was surprised at all the open space there,” says 11-year-old Koreon.  “All the farms and cornfields just stretching out.”

 “I thought it would look a lot more urban, more inner city,” agrees 16-year-old Louis.  “I guess I just didn’t know what farm country looked like.  And I sure didn’t think there was going to be anything like blueberry picking.”

Indeed, blueberry picking was just one of the many activities that opened the eyes of the four boys who were first-time participants in the fourth annual IBC community service week held in conjunction with CROPS (Community Rural Outreach Program).  In addition to the Grier brothers, Isaiah King and Gerard Chambers also made their first trek to San Pierre in July.  Second-timers Trayvone Mathis and Cody Houghtalling also joined in, Houghtalling in his new role as Coach Harry Cummins’ part-time assistant.
“I was surprised at the blueberry picking my first time there,” says Trayvone of his trip last year.  “I’d never seen anything like that… I kinda over ate.”

As has been the case in the past, IBC’ers who participated in this year’s San Pierre program earned their spot by garnering the most points in the boxing club’s summer reading program.  

“We set goals at the beginning of the summer and the kids earn points for the number of pages they finish, with bonus points for book reports,” explains Coach Cummins.


Leading the CROP in the Heartland
by Scott Fields

Who’s your town’s sandhill crane?

Rural small town America is dying due to a lack of private capital, government funds and inspired leadership. A group of teen-agers in San Pierre, Indiana are fighting back. Becoming their town’s most precious asset, they are setting an example for small communities across the country.

The day John Egolf met Beverly Santicola was one of those special moments where paths converge in a very big way. It was Memorial Day, 2005, and Egolf was skateboarding down the pockmarked streets of San Pierre, Indiana with a few of his friends. Wearing his usual second hand suit and fedora, Jon’s artsy bent stood out in a town where most 15-year-old boys were budding jocks. Nice kid, people would say. Just a little odd. That went for Jon’s friends too. People just couldn’t understand kids who chose the arts over football.

A big old Chrysler slowed down next to the boys, Jon turning toward a middle-aged woman who he assumed was an out-of-towner about to ask for directions. But Beverly Santicola was no out-of-towner. She had grown-up in San Pierre and was up from Houston to visit her mother and to launch her plan for bringing her hometown back to life.

When Beverly invited Jon and his friends to a meeting at St. Luke’s church basement on the following Sunday to discuss the fate of San Pierre, the teens weren’t quite sure how to respond.

“I didn’t know what to make of her – it took a bit for it to all sink in,” Egolf recalls. “But I remember thinking that something big was going to happen to this town and that this lady was gonna do it.”


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