Haven House leader
invited to White House
For release: June 26, 2008
Community Renewal Haven House leader and Hurricane Katrina evacuee Dorothy Wiley has been invited to today's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives National Conference in Washington, D.C.
Dorothy will speak briefly on the way Community Renewal and The Fuller Center for Housing helped her start a new chapter in her life after the hurricane forced her to flee New Orleans and settle in Shreveport. She will also introduce the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Steve Preston.
"I never thought I would do something this big. What? Me? I had fear at first, but then I prayed with a friend and excitement replaced the fear," said Dorothy, who is making her first trip to Washington, D.C.
"This is so exciting and such an honor. I want them to know how Community Renewal has transformed our lives and how we have built community here."
Dorothy spent four days with her family trapped in the New Orleans Superdome after the hurricane. She and her husband now live in Shreveport's Allendale neighborhood, having bought a home through the Building on Higher Ground initiative led by The Fuller Center for Housing. Their house was built in 2006 by the "Hammerin' Irish" - a group of alumni from the University of Notre Dame.
Attended by members of the President's Cabinet, OFBCI Director Jay Hein, and more than 1,000 public and private-sector leaders, the "Innovations in Effective Compassion" Conference will explore and expand the ways the Faith-Based and Community Initiative is transforming government's approach to human need, in partnership with faith-based and community organizations, to solve problems from addiction and homelessness to malaria and HIV/AIDS. President George W. Bush will speak at the conference Thursday afternoon.
Dorothy prepared her own remarks for the event and they include these comments:
"Too often we take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, it forced my family and I to leave. With nothing, literally nothing, but the clothes on our backs, we relocated to Shreveport, Louisiana. Traumatized, devastated and overwhelmed, it was time to start a new life," she said.
"This is when Community Renewal International stepped into our lives. Community Renewal donated land and partnered with The Fuller Center for Housing to build my family and other Hurricane Katrina evacuees new homes. They didn't just build us a home, but they gave us hope and brought back restoration to a neighborhood.
"Community Renewal and The Fuller Center transformed our lives. Their hard work reflects that which God values. I feel truly connected to Community Renewal International and continue to volunteer with their programs to help spread the love I was shown."
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