Shreveport native Mack McCarter was honored in Washington D.C. this week.
McCarter, founder and coordinator of Community Renewal International was named Citizen of the Year by the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC).
The award presentation was made by Sterling Speirn, CEO, and Sally Prouty, former interim CEO, of NCoC.
The Citizen of the Year Award recognizes individuals who use their public presence to inspire others and give back to their community.
Mack McCarter was chosen for his leadership and partnership to build hope and renew the spirit of cooperation in every segment of the Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana, community. Evidence of the CRI’s work can be measured in many ways, perhaps most notably that major crime has dropped an average of 52 percent in areas where they operate Friendship Houses.
“With more than 25 years-experience and amazing results in community building and unifying people, the Community Renewal program led by Mack McCarter was an obvious choice,” said Speirn. “The organization, through Mack’s leadership and partnership, connects neighbors and residents to restore the foundation of safe and caring communities, leading to dramatic outcomes. The unity, the love and healing, and the caring that exist in Shreveport-Bossier is phenomenal. I have never seen anything like this in terms of persistence and prevalence and impact.”
CRI looks to build hope and renew cooperation in the community of Shreveport-Bossier by focusing on three strategic areas embodied by the following: the Renewal team, the Haven House and the Friendship House. The Renewal team works with individuals, businesses, faith groups, civic groups, and others to build safer, stronger, and healthier communities. The Haven House initiative brings together caring residents who are willing to reach out to their neighbors. Identified by a Haven House “We Care” sign in their front yard, Haven House leaders are trained volunteers who turn strangers into friends on the block where they live and reweave the relational connectedness across all lines of difference citywide. The Friendship House is a beacon of hope in areas of concentrated disadvantage. Like a community center in a home, a Friendship House is a place for after-school education programs, character building, service projects, GED courses, tutoring, computer training, art and music lessons, family nights andmuch more. Currently, there are 10 Friendship Houses operating in the Shreveport-Bossier community, 60 are needed.
“I am so grateful to witness the results of the work of the dedicated men and women of Community Renewal,” said McCarter. “It is because of this relentless effort that Community Renewal has begun to cure the cancer of division and brokenness we all are experiencing in our cities – by changing our world one block at a time. While caring alone will not produce a loving and caring community, caring together will. Community Renewal truly is a miracle which is unlocking and releasing the best in all of us in the hometown I love. My vision is that all communities will follow its methods to heal our shattered society.”
Representatives from all over the country and the world have traveled to Shreveport-Bossier City to experience CRI’s model at work. In return, the CRI model is being scaled and replicated in communities including Abilene, Texas; Cameroon, Africa; the college campus of Texas Christian University; in Minneapolis; Washington D.C. ; Palestine, Texas; and in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma.