Finding The Path To A Better Life

ARA student stops running, turns life around, earns GED, gives to community

Askari Hinton ran for half of his life before finding the path to a better life.

The new road he is traveling on led him thstudentsrough the CRI Adult Renewal Academy, where this year he earned his GED and added his name to our growing list of success stories.

“I made a couple mistakes when I was young, like many of us do. I ran from my parents and I ran from Shreveport for 17 years,” he said.

“I had the wrong type of role models and I was in trouble a lot. There are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently. But I turned against the world and I ran.”

On Father’s Day of 2003, Hinton sat in a jail cell when he started a reading a poem that his son had written for him. The theme was about a boy following in his Daddy’s footsteps.

“I made a decision to change right then and I made a 360-degree turn in my life,” he said.

Hinton returned to Shreveport in 2006. He soon enrolled in Louisiana Technical College and found full-time work in welding. He has learned to depend on his faith, rather than people he thought were friends, but were not friends at all.

When his sister enrolled in the Distance Learning Program of the ARA, taking classes at Noel United Methodist Church, he saw a way to earn the degree he was missing. He attended the ARA this past summer and earned his GED on his first attempt.

The Adult Renewal Academy was started in 2003 to help adults of all ages broaden their education and earn their GED. Classes in math, reading, life skills and more are taught by certified instructors provided by Caddo and Bossier Parish Adult Education Programs.

“I applaud Community Renewal for that program. If you don’t have a GED, it’s the place to go. They give you words of encouragement and put you in the right frame of mind,” he said.

“The more I learned about Community Renewal, the more I liked it. This is a wonderful vision.”

Hinton was so thankful for the work of the ARA leaders in his life that he wanted to pass on the care he was shown. When a fellow student lacked the funds to pay for the GED test, Hinton paid it for him. “I saw myself in him and I felt like it was the right thing to do. I wanted to pass the blessing on to someone else.”

ARA Coordinator Gloria Millender said Hinton is an excellent example for other students.

“He was diligent and he worked hard and he was so appreciative of the program. He wants to give back to the community and that’s what we want,” she said.

Hinton is doing that through a nonprofit he started – the Blue Goose Blues Foundation, which is devoted to the restoration of a dilapidated area near downtown which was a birthplace of blues music in Shreveport.

“At one time my life was all about me. Now I realize I am a small part of the equation. Jesus lived for others and I try to adopt that mindset,” he said.

“We need to teach people how to be stronger to have strong communities. I’m very grateful for Community Renewal International. This is what the world really needs – people who care.”