A Community of Influence (Cont.)

Ivan thus was able to refocus his ministerial talents and energy on revitalization of the diversely ethnic, low-income, and rapidly declining neighborhoods pressing against Trinity’s urban campus. His responsibility, first as Trinity’s director of community affairs and later as director of graduate studies and community education, was to “build bridges between the college and the community.” He helped create and administer housing, environmental, educational, and related leadership programs designed to meet increasingly urgent economic, social, and public safety needs of Trinity’s struggling neighbors.

Progress was slow but steady, culminating in 1977 with the organization of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA), a partnership between Trinity and other nonprofit activist neighborhood organizations. In 1980, Ivan was named its first president, a post he held for 17 years, and under his leadership, SINA became a national model for urban neighborhood renewal. SINA partnered with nonprofit housing developers to identify and purchase distressed properties, secure financing, and build and market the finished homes. Main targets were economically and socially distressed neighborhood residents who were offered homeownership classes, credit repair sessions, and financial assistance packaging. Under his leadership SINA also laid the groundwork for building a $112 million “Learning Corridor,” which today comprises four public magnet schools on a 16-acre campus and enrolls 1,400 students.

The mayor’s career as a community leader began in the mid-’70s as the result of another kind of support: a neighborhood priest persuaded him to quit his neighborhood gang and join a youth group. He soon became active in neighborhood job and housing programs, organized many neighborhood advocacy programs, and attracted the attention of Trinity College, which eventually hired him for community liasion responsibilities similar to those previously handled by Ivan, who by then had taken on other community-wide leadership programs and actively recruited Perez for the college job. Perez’s responsibilities gradually expanded, and he followed Ivan as president of SINA, the leading community revitalization organization. The parallel lives of both men continue; both have received awards as distinguished alumni of their respective colleges (the mayor is a 1996 graduate of Trinity).

Ivan continues to put his hope in young people, and was encouraged by his conversations with some recent Moravian graduates last fall. “Not all of them will tolerate the status quo, and I trust that graduates of Moravian College will be among those who continue the struggle for justice, truth, and peace.”

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