A conversation with
Jamesetta Ferguson, president and CEO of Molo Village
By Rachel Reynolds
The Russell Neighborhood has
a huge supporter in the Rev. Jamesetta Ferguson.
In 2011, she founded Molo
Village Community Development Corporation to bring this Louisville neighborhood
back to life and provide much-needed services to its residents.
“The need was to address a
lot of the ills of our community,” says the Rev. Ferguson, who is senior pastor
at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ Louisville. “It is a food desert, there is a high
concentration of addiction, a lack of jobs and a lack of amenities for people
of color. All of these things are part
of a person’s spiritual well-being.”
The Russell Neighborhood was
home to Beecher Terrace, the public housing where the Rev. Ferguson grew
up. Until its recent demolition, the
housing development included 743 units with 2,000 legal residents.
“My hope is that we become a
thriving community with the amenities of many other communities in Jefferson
County,” the Rev. Ferguson says. “I have
a hard time believing that Family Dollar Store is the be-all-end-all to a
person’s shopping needs.”
The church pantry distributes
160,000 pounds of food to 13,000 people each year. Molo Village is a
grass-roots revitalization effort aimed at providing economic development, job
training, reentry from the justice system, nutrition, computer skills, housing and
access to addiction recovery among many other things. Funding for Molo Village comes from
individual donations and some grants.
All staff are volunteer.
The Rev. Ferguson’s
organization will eventually have an office in the “Village @ West Jefferson,”
a new 30,000-square-foot planned development at 12th and Jefferson Streets
downtown. The groundbreaking is scheduled for the first quarter of 2019 and
construction is slated to be completed in early 2020. The building will include first-floor retail,
a cafeteria-style restaurant, coffee shop, health clinic, conference room and
other offices. Louisville Metro Housing
will have a satellite office there and open space is available for training
opportunities. Seventy percent of the
facility is pre-leased, she says.
“It’s about bringing healthy
and positive services to the community,” the Rev. Ferguson says. “We still need a clothing store and a
financial institution like a bank with people, not just an ATM. It looks like we’re on the ground floor of a
revitalization. Our goal is to help
improve the people, no matter what difficulties they’ve had. They are an asset. We don’t give up on people.”