National Night Out emphasizes positive news
in once-troubled areas
For release: Oct. 5, 2011
With children giggling and playing around her, and neighbors laughing and visiting beside her, Frances Williams said her Shreveport neighborhood felt like a happy place again, just like it did years ago.
“Cedar Grove is a great neighborhood. Somehow it got run down, but we are building it back again,” she said during the 2011 National Night Out block party that brought hundreds of people to the Community Renewal Friendship House on a beautiful fall evening.
“We are so thankful to have this big National Night Out party. It brings neighbors together.”
O’Brien Energy and Bear Creek Services served nearly 500 plates of fish, chicken, French fries and hush puppies to residents and visitors at the affair, which also featured games for children and other activities.
The event was one of many block parties hosted by Community Renewal Haven House leaders in neighborhoods throughout Shreveport and Bossier City. By bringing residents out of their houses to strengthen friendships with their neighbors, the block parties help restore a positive sense of community in areas that struggled for years with crime and poverty.
Michelle Walter, who serves as a community coordinator in another Cedar Grove Friendship House, has lived in the neighborhood since 2005.
“This was our first really big block party for National Night Out. This draws us all closer together and that reduces crime,” she said.
“People know me as the ‘We Care Lady’ and now they are watching out for each other more. There are a lot of good people here and I feel safe here.”
Cedar Grove resident Dennis Williams enjoyed the block party and said it’s a pleasure to see people outside again – working in their gardens, washing their cars, sharing a barbecue dinner with friends. There was a time people would not come out of their houses because the fear of crime was so intense.
“I applaud this and give it two thumbs up. Some people have felt trapped in their houses and this brings them out. That’s exactly what we need,” he said.
“This is very positive for our neighborhood and I would like for it to be done on a regular basis. It helps keep the kids out of trouble and in a positive environment.”
Abraham Gardner has lived in Cedar Grove more than 50 years. He was helping at the block party and greeting neighbors as they arrived.
“It’s getting more like it was in the 1960s, when it was a good neighborhood. The Friendship House is helping make this a better community because young people today need good role models,” he said.
“The whole neighborhood is becoming like a family. People are not scared to come back into the neighborhood now and that’s wonderful. There is love here – that’s the main thing.”
National Night Out involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, more than 37 million people participated in National Night Out 2010.
National Night Out is designed to:
- Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
- Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
- Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
- Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.