By Michele Marcotte
The (Shreveport) Times
Nettie Pittman stood in amazement Saturday morning as she watched volunteers from the Greater Shreveport Leadership program and a neighborhood Friendship House transform her front yard.
"Look at all that," the Highland resident said, as piles of black trash bags filled with garbage, weeds and fall leaves from her yard accumulated on the curb. "I never could have done all this."
Pittman, who moved into the house with her twin sister, Daisy, after Hurricane Katrina, said she appreciated the help of the volunteers, particularly as she had been frightened a snake might slither out of the debris in the yard.
"When houses look nice, it uplifts the neighborhood," she said.
The outdoor renovation was one of several neighborhood projects volunteers tackled Saturday as part of a community service project coordinated by the 2010 graduating class of the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Shreveport Leadership program and Community Renewal International. In addition to yard work, volunteers painted a community study room and made care baskets for nearby residents.
Jamie Scoggin, a member of the 2009 graduating class of the leadership program, said knowing her assistance was meaningful to neighborhood residents was a real motivation to volunteer.
Many of the volunteers were familiar with the neighborhood projects Community Renewal International conducted regularly and worked with them in the past, said Andrew Mulford, a junior coordinator for the program's 2010 class. He said when the idea of incorporating a community project back into the program surfaced, members agreed Community Renewal International was an ideal choice.
"We knew they had single, one-day projects that had immediate impact on the community like this one," he said.
The organization operates several Friendship Houses in high-crime, low-income areas of Shreveport and Bossier City where a live-in outreach worker coordinates after-school activities, adult education and other events for neighborhood residents.
Jamie Dalton, a neighborhood resident who saw all the activity and came out to volunteer herself, said the presence of the Friendship House has been a big asset to the neighborhood.
"They've cleaned our neighborhood up a lot," she said.