Community Renewal dedicates new Friendship House
For release: June 17, 2009
With joyful song, words of blessing and prayers of thanks, Community Renewal dedicated and then officially opened its ninth Friendship House in June. The house stands in the Barksdale Annex neighborhood in Bossier City.
Residents of all ages gathered on the front porch of the two-story house to celebrate the addition of a safe, caring haven to the neighborhood. The Friendship House offers after-school and summer programs, educational enrichment, service projects and, most of all, a nurturing environment for children and families who live in at-risk areas of the city.
"I have the best job of all," said builder Curtis Loftin. "I get to work with everybody at Community Renewal. Those folks have a passion for this that is unbelievable. You have no idea the difference this house makes."
The David Toms Foundation provided funding for the construction.
"There are so many children in this community that are underserved. The way to change the world is through the young people, and giving them a better opportunity, and that is what we have tried to do," Toms recently said on a PGA Tour production that featured his work with Community Renewal and was broadcast on both CBS Sports and The Golf Channel.
"Children are our future and if you show them a better life and a better way to go, that's the way they will go. We're trying to get Shreveport to be the model for the rest of the world, changing it from the inside out, one street at a time, one family at a time."
CRI Founder and Coordinator Mack McCarter explained the purpose of Friendship Houses on the nationally broadcast program.
"The key to a Friendship House is not just building a nice home in an area that seems to be disintegrating. The key is to move remarkable human beings into that neighborhood to begin to rebuild the caring infrastructure of that neighborhood," he said.
This is the second Friendship House in the Barksdale Annex, a neighborhood that has seen tremendous positive change since the first Friendship House opened a few years ago. Even taxi drivers who once refused to pick up customers in the neighborhood because of the potential dangers are now doing business on those streets again.
Community Coordinator Manuela Standard and her family have moved into the house, which features a large community room on the first floor. She has a heart for children in the community.
"I don't want them hanging out in the street after school, getting into trouble. I want them to come here where they have a safe place and can do their homework and can make new friends," she said.
"I want all the children to know they are precious. I want them to excel and have a sense of self-respect. I want them to know they have gifts and talents and they are somebody."
Community Renewal International is a nonprofit effort to restore safe and healthy communities through caring relationships. Founded in 1994, Community Renewal reaches at-risk youth through Friendship Houses built in impoverished neighborhoods, strengthens education through the Adult Renewal Academy, partners with The Fuller Center for Housing and connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support.