New Friendship House
reaches for the sky
For release: Aug. 24, 2011
Community Renewal’s newest Friendship House is reaching for the sky in Shreveport’s Queensborough neighborhood.
Standing on a gentle slope in the 2800 block of Frederick Street, the house is now under construction – and is already having an impact as a symbol of hope in an area that has seen more than its fair share of crime and violence.
This is the tenth Friendship House in the Shreveport-Bossier City area and the second in Queensborough. CRI also has two Friendship Houses each in the Allendale, Cedar Grove, Highland and Barksdale Annex neighborhoods.
A Friendship House is like a community center in a home, reaching out to at-risk youth and families with after-school programs, community service projects and activities that build positive relationships among family members and neighbors.
The proven impact of a Friendship House ranges from major improvements in education to significant reductions in crime: Major crime in Shreveport’s four Friendship House neighborhoods has dropped by an average of 50 percent. Since the first one opened in 1997, more than 2,700 children and teens have participated in Friendship House activities. More than 160 are active on a regular basis.
Funding for the house came from proceeds of ticket sales for the House for Hope. The Home Builders Association of Northwest Louisiana and KSLA News 12 partner with Community Renewal on the House for Hope each spring.
Homebuilder Curtis Loftin oversees construction of the two-story house, which will be lived in by community coordinator Sabrina Henderson and her family. Each Friendship House has a large community room as well as private living quarters.
“It’s amazing to see the change in the people that live around these houses. When we started the other one in Queensborough, people would walk down the street with their head down and as we started coming up with the house, their heads would come up, too,” said Loftin, who is building his third Friendship House. He said there was no hesitation in taking on another construction project for Community Renewal.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to do this. Through this house, we are going to change broken lives. I’ve got the best job of all, because I get to see the community change as the house comes up. It’s amazing to see.
“This is not just a program coming through. This is a permanent structure. And it works. This was a thriving neighborhood at one time and it can be again.”
Queensborough resident Betty Smith is thrilled to see a second Friendship House going up in the neighborhood.
“This means so much because it means we will reach more children. And once one child comes, they will bring other children. And it will have a beautiful impact on them,” she said.
“They need this Friendship House because it will be a safe haven where they can come and work together. We will show them love and they will come. We get to save more children and that is so exciting. It may be another lawyer or another doctor or even a president. Just to be a part of something like this is beautiful.”
Community coordinator Sabrina Henderson has been holding Kids Club in the other Friendship House, which limits their activities and time together.
“With more space, we can help more children and make a real difference in their lives. This is going to be a safe and loving place. We are here to help in any way we can,” she said. “I want to make a difference in all these children’s lives. My hope is that they will see their lives can be better than they are right now.”