An Open Letter Regarding Allendale and I-49

Dear Friends, Community Renewal International has worked for twenty-one years to build relationships throughout the city to meet the goal of “One community connected together through caring.” Our sole purpose is in uniting people together through our common capacity to care for one another. It is important to comprehend the nature of our work and the goal we have for our community in order to understand the position of Community Renewal International in relation to the current I-49 discussion and an inner-city corridor through the Allendale neighborhood. Recently, as the I-49 issue has taken center stage, we at Community Renewal have heard many people from both sides of the debate state what they have perceived CRI’s position to be on this issue. Community Renewal International has had no official corporate position until the publishing of this letter. We as an organization have taken no steps to either encourage or discourage the building of the inner-city connector. That is not our mission. We are relationship builders and do not participate in political issues as an organization. We never have and we never will. CRI works to heal our divisions whatever they may be or wherever they arise. Political issues can be very destructive to the foundational core of the relational work that we exist to do! We even mandate that every Haven House Block Leader agree not to display political yard signs because it can immediately hinder the work of building positive neighborhood friendships. We are clear on this mandate for our whole organization. Despite this core principle for us, there seems to be some confusion related to CRI and...
Ground is broken for new Highland Friendship House

Ground is broken for new Highland Friendship House

Nine-year-old Landen Legrand couldn’t stop smiling at this summer’s groundbreaking for a new Community Renewal Friendship House. “This is exciting for us and for Mrs. Sandra,” he said. “I like it here. I feel happy here.” The new Friendship House in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood will replace a too-small house that has been in use for 18 years. Construction funds are provided by the annual House for Hope project. “This is so uplifting for this neighborhood and will mean a higher level of excellence for our work,” said Highland Community Coordinator Sandra Simpson, who has encouraged, inspired and motivated more than 600 children at the Friendship House since the doors opened in 1997. 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. “The heart of our city is the Highland neighborhood. this is just so wonderful to build a new Friendship House for the renewal of one of Shreveport’s oldest and finest neighborhoods,” said CRI Founder Mack...

“I am one of the luckiest women you know”

By Claudia Oliver I am one of the luckiest women you know!  It was April 1994 when my husband took me to meet Mack McCarter.  He was outlining a way to save our civilization through intentional caring relationships. Mack is a very charismatic and dynamic speaker – mainly because he was (and still is) convinced that the model of Community Renewal International’s caring relationships is the answer to what is ailing our country and the world.  And we are so lucky to have gotten in on this idea on the ground floor! David and I became involved monetarily and volunteer-wise over the next year with CRI.  Although most of us volunteers still couldn’t describe what it was we were endorsing, we truly believed it could be the answer to what was ailing us! We kept attending meetings, learning more of how this model could work, and hearing success stories of Mack’s “test” in Ledbetter Heights to make friends in a neighborhood where he wasn’t known, or even welcome, through intentional, systematic, caring-by-showing-up-every-Saturday-morning-at-10 am just to meet the people where they were and become friends with them. Fast forward to September 26, 1995 – a beautiful, sun-filled, blue-sky day that had me out the door early to tape two Red River Revel interviews at KTAL-TV that would be aired that week concerning that weekend’s upcoming Revel highlights.  The tapings went well and I was off to run errands and visit my Uncle for his birthday! My first stop was at Kroger, located in the Eastgate Shopping Center on 70th Street at that time, to buy two loaves of low sodium...

Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

Sometimes it’s difficult to measure the success of what we do at Community Renewal. After an incident in Allendale, Emmitt Welch, Community Coordinator Allendale Youth, was able to see how effective our program is to those who are impacted the most by it. Three weeks ago, Emmitt was away from the Friendship House when a fight broke out at the playground next door. The nine girls involved all attend the after-school program at the Friendship House. By the time Emmitt came home to see what was going on, the incident was already over. After one of the Club members showed him the cell phone footage of the fight, all those involved were suspended from Club until further notice. Out of the nine girls involved though, three were voted back to Club, the victim, who was being bullied, and two girls that were not part of the fight, just bystanders. The other six, who are sisters, were still suspended. A couple weeks after the fight, the mother of the seven girls came to the Friendship House with tears in her eyes begging Emmitt to let her girls back in Club. She told him that her family has been lost over the last few weeks. “I worry about them all the time,” said the mother. “We can’t function without Community Renewal.” The mother did not realize how crucial this after-school program was to her daughters until it was taken away. So Emmitt required the girls to write a letter of apology and read it to the Club members in order for them to be allowed back. The girls are all now...
Hilman House Dedicates Property to CRI

Hilman House Dedicates Property to CRI

On Saturday, July 25, the Hilman House, along with surrounding grounds was donated to Community Renewal International during an official ceremony. The Hilman House was named in honor of Dr. Bettina Hilman, Shreveport Cystic Fibrosis specialist. When Shreveport became the place for North Louisiana Cystic Fibrosis patients to receive treatments from one of the nation’s leading Cystic Fibrosis specialists, Dr. Bettina Hilman, families would have no place to stay. With the costs of travel and hospital visits being high, families would sleep in the hospital hallways while their loved ones received treatment. In 1986, five families of Cystic Fibrosis patients founded the Hilman House, with additional funds that were matched by the Community Foundation. It even served as a hospital if patients did not have insurance. Dr. Hilman would visit and administer their treatments while they stayed at the Hilman House. The Hilman House served over 110 families of Cystic Fibrosis patients during the 30 years of operation and service to the community. The Guillory family was one of the many families impacted by the services of the Hilman House. When their daughter, Ann-Marie, was unable to walk up the stairs to get to the living quarters, she would have to be carried. The Guillory family, with help of countless donations, raised money to build a cottage behind the Hilman House where patients that needed handicap accessible arrangements could stay. Under Community Renewal’s ownership, the cottage will remain open to any families traveling to the area for Cystic Fibrosis treatment. When considering the future of the Hilman House, those left in possession of 644 Herndon Street decided to donate the...

CRI Partners with Area Universities to Develop Curriculum

Community Renewal International, Area Universities, and Cameroon sign Multi-Party Memorandum of Understanding Throughout the week of May 11, 2015, Community Renewal International (CRI) and its Center for Community Renewal (CCR) were joined by Valentin Miafo-Dionfack, Director of International Relations for CRI and Jean Nkengsa, coordinator of Africa Community Renewal (ACR), based in Cameroon, for the signing of a Multi-Party Memorandum of Understanding with area higher education Chancellors and Presidents.  This agreement lays the foundation for the development of an educational curriculum to support the replication of the CRI model in Africa as well as communities throughout the United States. Kim Mitchell, Director of CCR, will guide the collaboration of area universities to design and implement an educational credential that will qualify instructors for Africa Community Renewal. The area universities who are party to the MOU include Bossier Parish Community College, Louisiana State University-Shreveport, Southern University of Shreveport, Centenary College, and Northwestern State University. Mitchell stated, “I am inspired by this regional higher education collaborative. The commitment of each party to the MOU is an important step in sharing the CRI processes and model with the rest of the world. This partnership will offer great mutual benefits to both Cameroon and Northwest Louisiana. Curricula development, training programs, student exchange opportunities and additional partners joining this multi-party agreement are among the anticipated outcomes.” Individuals from around the United States visit Shreveport, LA, the CRI demonstration city, to learn more about CRI and how to implement the model into their own communities. Other cities that have replicated the CRI model include Abilene, Texas and Cameroon. Shawnee,  Oklahoma; Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Washington D.C have begun replication of the CRI...