“Truly a model that is renewing the entire city”

“Truly a model that is renewing the entire city”

One of the first things that Dianne Schick realized and liked about Community Renewal is that this is a work not just for a few, but for all. “I like that Community Renewal is building relationships that go across the city. This is truly a model that is renewing the entire city,” she said. “Just look at how the crime rate has gone down in the Friendship House neighborhoods. But Community Renewal is not just for those communities – it’s for all communities. We need it in Southern Trace just as much as any other neighborhood does.” Woody and Dianne Schick were introduced to Community Renewal by a friend who suggested they take a tour. He did and then she did. (CRI tours are conducted monthly.) They liked what they saw and got involved. Today they are Haven House leaders and Dianne has hosted a block party, brought friends on CRI tours and helped with other events. “God calls us to love our neighbors and that can be a challenge when people are so busy. But building relationships is important. When you don’t care about your neighbors, that’s when things start to fall apart,” she said. “We all need relationships and especially relationships outside the family. God made us to love and help other people get out of our self-centered souls.” Dianne hosted a block party in her cul-de-sac last fall. Although retired, she and Woody are still busy themselves, including raising their teenage grandson. But she found that the effort it took to put on a block party was well worth it. “We were able to really visit and we...
Meet Syborio Sabbath

Meet Syborio Sabbath

Afternoons at a Community Renewal Friendship House helped turn Syborio Sabbath from a bully into a better person, a young leader who now has plans, goals and a desire to help others rather than hurt them. “When I was younger I would mess with people and bully little kids. I just wasn’t thinking. I was immature and self-centered,” he said. “I like the Friendship House because when I come here I feel good. I love it here. They teach us how to do the right thing and not the wrong thing.” Syborio, 16, is finishing his freshman year this spring at Byrd High School, where he plays on the school basketball team and has aspirations for a basketball career. He lives with his family in Shreveport’s Highland neighborhood and started in the Kids Club at one Highland Friendship House and is now active in the Youth Club at the other Highland Friendship House. “They make me a better person at the Friendship House and then I can help the younger kids do the right thing. They really care about us here. We’re like one big family and that is so good,” she said. Caring relationships from the community coordinators who live in and run the programs at the Friendship Houses have made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of teenagers, including Syborio. He has helped with service projects like neighborhood cleanups and food drives. And through all of these experiences, he is now growing into a responsible young man who is already thinking of ways he can give back to his community. “He is becoming a leader...
Sisters find joy at Friendship House

Sisters find joy at Friendship House

Makaila Reed and her sisters know how dangerous their streets once were and how tempting it has been for other young people to join gangs and get caught up in a life of violence and crime. That’s why the girls and their mother never take it for granted that today they can play without fear on those same streets. Gang fights and drug deals have been replaced by block parties and neighborhood service projects. The No. 1 reason, they say, is the impact of Community Renewal and the two Friendship Houses that are helping to transform the Allendale neighborhood. A Friendship House is a permanent part of the neighborhood, lived in by a CRI employee and their family and serving as a tangible symbol of hope and change in high-crime, low-income areas. “The Friendship House helps keep kids from going out and doing the wrong things and getting locked up. I feel safe with the Friendship House here,” said 12-year-old Makaila. “I like coming here because I have friends here and I am part of the group. I feel like it’s a family here. If the Friendship House was not here I would probably just go home and watch TV and waste my time.” Younger sister, Miracle, 10, feels the same way. “I enjoy the Friendship House because I like being with my friends and learning about God. We have birthday parties here and we help the community get better. I feel safe and happy here.” Felicia Sewell, the girls’ mother, said her children have become more caring and outgoing people because of CRI’s commitment to Allendale. “The Friendship...
Love Wins Out In West Morningside

Love Wins Out In West Morningside

Charlotte Jones Love Wins Out In West Morningside The wailing of police sirens, the shouting across the street, the crashing of glass. Charlotte Jones had heard enough. But instead of hiding behind locked doors, she opened them and neighborswent out to meet the troubles head on – with love and friendship. A resident of Shreveport’s West Morningside neighborhood for more than 10 years, Mrs. Jones credits the Haven House concept for bringing true renewal to her community. “There was conflict in the neighborhood and the police would be called. It was people not knowing each other,” she said. “One time flower pots were broken; one time a car window was broken. There was vandalism. It was an ongoing feud.” Until one day – Christmas Day – when love won out. Without any fanfare, a man who had been anything but friendly took a gift to Christina Johnson, his across-the-street neighbor. The two families had gone through many troubles, but the power of friendship was finally taking hold. “Community Renewal played a very important role in this,” Mrs. Jones said. “The first step was coming to the Haven House training. If you can show somebody a different way, they’ll usually be willing to take that step.” Now Christina Johnson is not only a Haven House leader herself; she is recruiting others. “We Care” signs are sprouting on her street like spring flowers. Today the residents of West Morningside work together on activities like Easter egg hunts for the children, clean-up days and neighborhood yard sales. “I was raised to love my neighbors – that’s in my heart. It’s scary when...
Finding The Path To A Better Life

Finding The Path To A Better Life

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...