Esther's Park: Home
Author’s note: The following story was originally written for Comstock’s magazine as part of my recurring “Media File” column, a monthly examination at media-related businesses in the Sacramento region. Comstock’s declined to publish this story.
Walk into Underground Books along Broadway in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood and the first thing you’re likely to notice is that it isn’t your typical bookstore.
Christmas in Oak Park, hosted by St. HOPE, featured photos with “Black Santa” at Underground Books, and more holiday-themed activities at neighboring The Guild Theater, on Dec. 14, 2019, in the historic African American Sacramento neighborhood. See video here.
After a difficult past, the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento has been undergoing a revitalization. One longtime force in this renewal has been a nonprofit, St. HOPE, that has spent 30 years energizing public education and economic development aimed at helping resident families thrive.
Sacramento’s Oak Park transformed: One organization and its $89 million footprint
Sac Bee Article by David Caraccio
Long-time Oak Park resident and activist Robbin Ware remembers that when he moved to the neighborhood, “there wasn’t a damn thing.”
“There wasn’t nothing here but gangs, drugs, drugs being sold,” said Ware, 82.
Nearly 20 years later, Oak Park has become a hotbed of investment and development. One organization in particular has been busy — St. Hope.
One week ago today, at 4 p.m., to be exact, former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his fellow dreamers quietly celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of St. Hope — which started as a summer program in a portable classroom for 12 African-American boys but became an economic and education turbo engine for what had been the historically neglected Oak Park.
New soul food restaurant opening soon in Oak Park. One of its backers is Kevin Johnson
Sac Bee Article by Benji Engel
How does a restaurant capture the flavor of a neighborhood steeped in history that’s simultaneously more in flux than any other part of Sacramento?
Fixins Soul Kitchen went straight to the source: Oak Park residents’ family recipes. When the restaurant opens in St. Hope’s 40 Acres building around the end of July, someone’s grandma’s fried chicken or biscuits will share menu space with creations from executive chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson’s mind, said St. Hope CEO/president Jake Mossawir.
The Class of 2019 will be remembered as one of our most cohesive classes ever to walk through Sac High’s doors. The students from the Class of 2019 are as close as a true family who supported each other throughout the ups and downs of high school, ultimately emerging as graduates. Ninety-six percent of the seniors have been accepted to four-year universities across the nation, including 38 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 21 California State University campuses, all nine of the University of California campuses, and 26 private and out of state colleges and universitie
PS7 Elementary is always dedicated to bringing as many experiences to our scholars as possible. This year, we knew we wanted to increase the number of electives scholars had the opportunity to participate in while at the elementary school, so we added two — art and music. Throughout the year our scholars learned the various elements of art and music enabling them to present their first ever art and music production, “It’s A Creative World.”
The Sacramento Black Book Fair kicked off its 6th Annual event earlier this month in Oak Park and brought together African American authors and artists from all over to the community. This highly anticipated h two-day event included a panel discussion among featured authors, book signings, cultural and food vendors, children’s activities, poetry readings, art displays, and so much more.
As St. HOPE approaches its 30th anniversary serving the Oak Park Community, we can reflect back on the many locations we have called home. Many people still recall the original St. HOPE Academy after school building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, which is now home to the SETA preschool. Others may remember the more corporate office space on 34th Street and 3rd avenue, which has since been completely remodeled and is now home to our friends at Valley Vision.
PS7 Elementary hosted its first ever Career Day on Friday, April 19th! Our students dressed up as their future selves – teachers, pilots, music artists, athletes and more – and were able to explore and hear from professionals in and around the Oak Park community. As part of the learning experience, students had the opportunity to see an actual human brain thanks to researchers from UC Davis; they put in some sweat with a personal trainer; and, listened to each other’s heartbeats with a stethoscope like a pediatric nurse.
Before winning the Transforming Youth through Travel scholarship by Context Travel, the only country outside of America I had visited was my parents’ homeland, Mexico. Paris is not what the movies or people make it seem to be, and it is certainly very different from both America and Mexico. My recent trip to Paris was amazing and life changing because I learned so much about the city’s history.
St. HOPE Public Schools recently celebrated its annual Admissions Lottery along with its first ever Oak Park Block Party held at the newly completed Esther’s Park. The Oak Park community gathered for a day of family-friendly fun, food trucks, and a live DJ. Incoming PS7 and Sacramento Charter High School scholars and families also had an opportunity to meet the St. HOPE staff during the Admissions Lottery.
Last month St. HOPE officially launched its newest development, Esther’s Park! The park, located at 3408 Third Avenue, was created after the unfortunate fall of the historic Esther’s Bakery and will serve as an event space for hosting community gatherings. It is home to a beautiful mural done by Sacramento Charter High School alumni, Aizik Brown, which was part of last year’s Sacramento’s Wide Open Wall event.
This year marks the 15th year anniversary of The Best of Sac High Student Art Exhibition and we are proud to celebrate it with students, their families and the entire St. HOPE team. Throughout the years we have endeavored to keep this wonderful tradition alive, showcasing the outstanding talents our students possess. We once again present to you the best artistic work from the some of our most expressive students at Sacramento High School.
Each year, Sac High prides itself in exposing ALL students to college life, and this year was no exception. In December, students were able to select their annual college trip to a vast array of Northern California universities, including UC Berkeley, Chico State, CSU East Bay, UC Merced, Sacramento State, and Sonoma State. By the time a Sac High student graduates, they have been provided with the opportunity to visit at least four different college campuses – those students involved in EAOP and College Track visit far more!
Although the priority deadline to apply for the St. HOPE Public Schools (SHPS) 2019-2020 Admissions Lottery has passed, the 2019-2020 Admissions Lottery and Oak Park Block Party will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2019 and is sure to be total fun in the sun!
The Block Party will take place at the newly-opened Esther’s Park located at 3408 3rd Avenue from 4:00pm-7:00pm and is free to attend! There will be a live DJ, BBQ, Face painting and so much more! Come hang out with us!
The Oak Park Speaker Series, presented by Underground Books, hosted a special edition of the series featuring Reverend Al Sharpton on March 18, 2019 at The Guild Theater.
Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson highlighted the legacy of Stephon Clark – exactly one year after Stephon’s tragic death – along with special guests, Dr. Tecoy Porter, pastor of Genesis Church and President of the Sacramento Chapter of the National Action Network, along with attorney Benjamin Crump, representative for the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.