When Rev. Dr. Leroy Sanders arrived at Kenwood United Church of Christ the church had fewer than 20 members and a building in disrepair. Rev. Sanders still saw the potential and refused to let the church close its doors. With his vision he rallied community support and raised funds to keep the church open.

Recognizing the pressing issues faced by the residents, he extended the church beyond Sunday and championed initiatives such as affordable healthcare, access to nutritious food, youth services and recreational activities that became cornerstones of his ministry.

Little did he know that Kenwood United Church was one of the founding churches that helped create the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. Rev. Sanders served on KOCO’s board for over a decade continuing to advocate for fair housing practices, opposing the displacement of the Black community from its lakefront neighborhood and collaborating on Back to School and Summer programs.

One of Rev. Sanders’ notable contributions to the Kenwood community includes founding the Norma Jean Sanders Health Clinic in 2001. The clinic, located at 1049 E. 46th Street, offers free, personalized medical care to all individuals. Open on Fridays from 9 am – 2 pm, it addresses various health concerns prevalent in the community, such as asthma, hypertension and heart disease, assists with referrals for dental, eye care and other specialty services and conducts Back to School exams. Call the clinic at (773) 624-8987.

While the clinic temporarily closed after the passing of its former Medical Director, Dr. David Stewart, in 2022, the clinic is now reopened under the leadership of its new Medical Director, Dr. Maurice ‘Mo’ Brownlee. Please help spread the word to ensure that the community can take advantage of its vital services.

Norma Jean Sanders Free Clinic Re-opening. Rev. Boyd, current pastor at Kenwood UCC, Dr. Maurice ‘Mo’ Brownlee, Current Clinic Medical Director, Rev. Dr. Sanders, Pastor Emeritus at Kenwood UCC, and Jaribu Lee, Deputy Director at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

In reflecting on his work, Rev. Sanders emphasized the importance of the community asserting their wants and needs and demanding the resources and opportunities that have too long been denied. “We must address the disparities in education, the lack of community facilities and the challenges faced by our youth. If you don’t speak out, ain’t nothing gonna happen.” says Rev. Sanders, a reminder to us all that it is our duty to use our ideas and talents to improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities.

At KOCO we are grateful for the opportunity to honor and celebrate Rev. Sanders on his 90th birthday as he celebrates 45 years of ministry. We appreciate having worked with Rev. Sanders and Kenwood United Church over the last 4 decades.

We need more principled, honorable, and ethical community pillars like Rev. Sanders. Rev. Sanders has laid a foundation that can be built upon for the next 40 years and beyond. KOCO works to develop new generations of African American leadership that will build stable, viable, and just communities where opportunity is not denied based on race or economic status.