MEET THE TEAM
ROBERT - Founder
"Dirty hands make clean money."
Robert was born in Jefferson County, Mo. and grew up working for his father, who was a stone mason. He always had a passion for building, dismantling, and creating new things.
When he volunteered with Mission: STL he began teaching job skills to at-risk men, an experience that changed Robert's life.
"Born and raised in Jefferson County, as the son of a stone mason in a low income family, I never considered myself to be "privileged" in any way and was accustomed to long hours and hard work. BUT - after I'd spent a month with a class of interns I realized how many skills I had collected throughout my life that I had taken for granted, and the obstacles these men encountered while trying to better themselves. I was immediately confronted by what privilege ACTUALLY looks like and part of me was WRECKED by that realization. Anew Nature became a vision to level the playing field - my attempt at justice."
WILLIAM - INTERNSHIP GRAD/BUILDER
"Working with Anew Nature was one of the greatest experiences of my life." - Will
Before Will met Anew Nature, he served 10.5 years for an armed robbery charge from his youth. While Will was incarcerated he worked towards building his future, his way out of the life that had landed him in prison at such a young age. One year after being released from jail, Will came to the Job and Leadership training program through Mission: STL, after being referred by his parol officer. He signed up immediately for the program, was accepted, and met Robert at the internship job faire. Will completed his internship with flying colors and was immediately hired by Anew Nature, where he worked for over a year. Now Will has a great job with a local tile company that he was referred to from Anew Nature. He's using his logistic skills and hard work ethic to provide for his family. In the next five years, Will wants to own several rental properties and use the skills he learned to buy and flip properties in St. Louis.
"My favorite thing about working with Anew Nature was that I was always learning something new, from Robert or Guy, and working with my hands. My whole thing is bettering myself and expanding my horizons before I leave this place. I'm even getting a CDL certification while I'm working with Stutte Tile." - William
BIDDA - SHOP MOM/FINE PAINTER
"Wherever you are - be all there."
Bidda was born in Nashville, Tn. and is the eldest of nine siblings. When she was in third grade she moved to STL. As she grew up, she developed a very close relationship with her parents. In her early life, Bidda worked with her father who ran a creative ad company, where she developed her love for creativity and writing. She has written a book and created MANY paintings. Her college years were spent in New Mexico, where she had the full 70's experience and loved every minute of it. Then she returned to STL when her father became sick with cancer and was with him, holding his hand when he passed away at 50 years old. Shortly after, she met her husband Bob Karleskint. They married and raised three children in STL, that led to eight grandchildren. In December of 2015, her husband of 30 years suddenly passed away from a heart attack. Ever since, her heart for her city has doubled in size and she volunteers every spare moment she has. She has been volunteering with Anew Nature for 18 months and treats every intern like one of her own children.
"Recent widowhood has made my time with Anew Nature and our interns so precious to me! The environment is FUN, educational, and relational!"
Julie - trainer/office administrator
Julie majored in psychology, with a study emphasis in behavorial modification and stereotypes. Julie takes many of the photos you've seen of Anew Nature and has a real knack for design, layout, and presentation. She is the mother of two wonderful children and has a passionate heart for breaking down boundaries that restrict communal growth and HARD WORK.
"My job with Anew Nature allows me to explore my personal interests. Specifically, working with our interns has given me a better understanding of the many hardships that can hold one back. I enjoy seeing our interns embrace new work skills and work towards a better future." - Julie
Travis - current Intern With Anew Nature
Travis is 25 years old. He was born on Mcree or "the dark side," as it was called when he was growing up. He attended Fort Zumwalt East High and graduated in 2010. Just two years later, Travis was incarcerated in 2012 with a felony conviction and served three years in jail. After he was released in March of 2015, he worked with a temp service but was unable to find steady employment despite all his efforts, hard work ethic, and consistency. Travis began his internship with Anew Nature and LOVES working with us. "I like sanding because you're taking something rough and making it so smooth!"
In five years, Travis wants to be working for Anew Nature, "customizing stuff like Matt does!"
"Prison is part of my past, that's the reason I'm beginning to change myself. I did three years and just got out. The street life isn't for me and I'd rather be doing something positive than dead because of the streets. Making money the wrong way isn't worth me being out of my childrens' lives." - Travis
Torrence - CURRENT INTERN WITH ANEW NATURE
"Keep Pushing." - Torrence
Torrence served five years for a felony conviction, during which he got his GED. After his release he moved from his home town, New Orleans, to St. Louis to get a fresh start. He began taking odd jobs until he was employed at a bodyshop where he worked off and on for nearly two years. Then he was caught in another case and was incarcerated for another six months. Afterwards, he moved in with his parents to figure out what was next for him. His parol officer recommended the Job and Leadership training program with Mission St. Louis and he signed up the same day. Torrence is now interning with Anew Nature as an intern.
"I was a knucklehead, following the wrong crowd. But now with the internship, it motivates me to try to do something better for myself, in the areas I feel like I may be a failure. The employers support and lift you up, and make you feel good."
Derrick - CURRENT INTERN WITH ANEW NATURE
"I have picked up several life long trade skills!" - Derrick
Derrick is 29, born and raised in St. Louis' Peabody Projects. He used to live a life of dealing drugs and claiming gangs. He served his time in the Fed and was just released March of 2016. Ever since, he has been unable to find work. He joined the Job and Leadership Training program with Mission St. Louis and began his internship with Anew Nature.
"I love being a part of the Anew Nature team because not only does it give me something valuable to do but I get to create memories with the team as well as create memories for the people we make furniture for!" - Derrick