Louisville Magazine

OCT 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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30 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 10.18 e late-summer air is no longer air. Just a broth set at simmer. Maybe that's what's keeping the kids away on this Tuesday. "ere's not one single kid," René Douglas says, a bit bewildered. She sits on the concrete stoop of the Baxter Community Center, a 70-year-old brick building on the northern edge of the Beecher Terrace public-housing complex in the West End Russell neighborhood. THE BIT THE PORTRAIT says, rubbing her knee that's locked in a brace due to a decades-old cheerleading injury. "Because my mom and grandma made sure of that. ey were intentional. I want to do that for (these kids). If I can make them grow, learn, pursue some- thing a little more than this four-square block, I've done my job." Douglas loves Russell. But it's not the easiest place to grow attached to children. She has been startled by gunshots while sitting at her desk, has walked up to a murder scene and known whom homi- cide detectives were collected around. "You miss their smile. ey weren't perfect by any stretch, but they were peo- ple," she says. "And they mattered to me. I've gotten to see the side of young adults most people don't see. In here, they are respectful. I get the love back that I give." René Douglas Second Mother Photo by Jessica Ebelhar Inside, popcorn has been popped. Two basketballs await a pick-up game on the court. Douglas likes the center noisy — laughing and hollering and music. It's the day after Labor Day. Maybe kids are just out of their routines, Douglas reasons, because it's now nearly 3:30 in the after- noon and still nobody. Douglas has worked with children nearly her entire adult life. She has run the Baxter Community Center for the last 12 years, organizing sports teams and chess clubs, meals and nature programs, arts classes and conflict-resolution pro- grams, Zumba and activities for seniors. e 49-year-old grew up not far from Beecher Terrace. She knows poverty and believes circumstance does not have to design the future. "I was a project girl who took ballet and piano lessons," she

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