Iowa flood recovery team visits Shreveport to learn from Community Renewal
For release: Nov. 3, 2009
A team of four individuals active in flood recovery efforts in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, visited Shreveport Monday to learn about the neighborhood-building strategies of Community Renewal International.
The group also toured the Allendale neighborhood and met with Hurricane Katrina evacuees who now call the area home. Forty houses have been built there for the evacuees as well as local residents by The Fuller Center for Housing, in partnership with Community Renewal. One key to the success of that initiative is the connecting of caring neighbors who work in partnership to build a safe, healthy neighborhood.
"The Block by Block Program (in Cedar Rapids) wants to rebuild community as we rebuild structures, so that neighborhoods are brought fully back to life. When we started searching for an organization that had long-term experience and demonstrated results in that work, Community Renewal International stood out to us. It seems like we can learn a lot from you," said Courtney Ball, one of the leaders of the effort to restore Cedar Rapids.
"I work with neighborhood block leaders and this has been very helpful. Now we have CRI as a resource and that means a lot. To see the transformation occurring here is impressive."
In June of 2008, the city of Cedar Rapids was hit by an unprecedented flood that devastated 10 square miles of the city, causing $5.74 billion in damages. Nearly 6,000 residential properties and 700 businesses were damaged, almost 20,000 residents were displaced and the entire downtown was submerged by the flood waters.
"It wasn't until well after the flood that other people began to realize we need to build community. They are seeing it does make sense to build community as much as it does to build houses. The primary emphasis is relationships," said Clint Twedt-Ball, co-director with his brother Courtney of the Matthew 25 Ministry Hub in Cedar Rapids.
"This is a great model for putting relationships at the center of neighborhood revitalization. You are showing you can reduce crime and rebuild neighborhoods by making friendships and that's huge."
The group headed to New Orleans Tuesday morning to meet with a number of persons there involved in the rebuilding of the city after Hurricane Katrina.
"We are encouraged to have groups like this one come to learn and share, so that we can both become more effective in serving people in our communities. This represents what will be happening across the country as Community Renewal expands to other cities," said Shelley Ryan-Gray, CRI director of partnerships.
Community Renewal works to restore the foundation of safe and caring communities by rebuilding the system of caring relationships. Since its founding, Community Renewal has touched the lives of more than 2,100 at-risk youth. The organization connects caring partners who turn their neighborhoods into safe havens of friendship and support. More than 40,000 people have joined the "We Care" team and more than 1,000 have been trained to serve as Haven House leaders who help renew the city one neighbor and one city block at a time.
Community Renewal International is a nonprofit effort to restore safe and healthy communities through caring relationships. Founded in 1994, CRI 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