Virginia students find joy as volunteers in Shreveport
For release: April 22, 2010
Morten Wendelbo, a native of Denmark who is studying in the United States, has helped build houses in New Orleans, feed the hungry in Virginia and reach out to low-income families in Shreveport, La.
“If you can make a difference, you should. I like going to sleep at night knowing I did something for someone else,” he said.
“We can give someone an opportunity for a new life. I went to New Orleans last year and did some construction work. When you put in a window for someone and you see them smile, you know you made a tremendous difference for them.”
Morten, 21, is one of 10 students from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., who came to Shreveport this week – National Volunteer Week – on a spring break service trip. They spent two days volunteering with Community Renewal, conducting disaster preparedness surveys and helping at two Friendship Houses. They also painted trim and doors for The Fuller Center for Housing, worked at a neighborhood health clinic and spent a day with the Volunteers of America.
“I like the community-building going on here. That’s inspiring. I’ve never really known my neighbors and now I will make a point of meeting my neighbors wherever I go.”
Elise Parker, 20, is a native of The Philippines who is a sophomore accounting major. Also an active volunteer, she particularly enjoyed helping children with their homework at a CRI Friendship House.
“I like how Community Renewal brings relationships to the forefront and I love the Friendship Houses. They provide a safe place for children and that’s awesome,” she said.
“I have a willingness to serve because I’ve seen that I have the power to help change things. It’s rewarding to give hope to people. That’s very important.”
Summer Sterling, 21, graduates this spring with a major in politics and a minor in poverty studies. The journey to Shreveport was her second school service trip this year.
“I’m passionate about giving back to communities and making that part of my life. I believe strongly it’s something we should do,” she said. “Nothing will happen with the problems in the world unless we take steps to resolve them.
“I think Community Renewal has a great mission and is going the right direction. I like how it emphasizes the whole community. With a strong sense of community, we can all be that much more effective. Mutually beneficial relationships are the key.”
Local alumni of Washington and Lee University proposed the trip to Shreveport and coordinated the volunteer activities.
Community Renewal has many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. In 2009, CRI had 2,091 volunteers who donated a total of 31,351 hours throughout the Shreveport-Bossier City area. For more information, visit the volunteers page at www.communityrenewal.us.
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.
Contact: David Westerfield, director of communications